The avant-pop star talks new projects, music education, punk teendom, and tour snacks
In 2010, when we were programming this and were kind of almost done, the iPad arrived, so we were like, 'wow!' It'd be silly just to record these songs and put them on a CD because we'd already written all these programs, we might as well share the programs, and put them with some more poetic, natural things — the moons, the tides, things like this. It was a very gradual thing.
SFBG And now it's been brought in to educate children at schools throughout Iceland, but also there are related events where you're touring, as well?
Björk It differs from city to city. So far it's been in Manchester, Iceland, New York, Buenos Aires, and Paris, and now it's going to be in California. Some places, like for example, New York Library and the Children's Museum of Manhattan, took on the curriculum for a few months, and the middle school of Reykjavik, the 10 to 12-year-olds, they have it now in their curriculum for the next three years. It's looking like it's going to go to more countries. It sort of keeps growing.
SFBG It seems like you've long been ahead of the curve, as far as creating music with new technology, is that something you grew up with as well?
Björk I'm actually really bad with technology. I think that's why I'm so excited about, for example, the touch screen, because it's like I waited until technology caught up with me, for it to be simple enough. You have your imagination, and whatever helps you express yourself, I'm all for it, if it's the violin or piano or singing. Or what has been really helpful for me, since I started doing my own solo albums, the computer has made me a lot more self-sufficient. I guess that comes from being in bands for 10 years, where things are more democratic. It was always drums and bass and keyboards and guitars in every single song [laughs], which is great. But then when I started doing my own album, I was like a kid in a toy shop, I wanted to have every single noise. And this is great, using the computers to do this yourself. It's quite empowering, especially for a girl. You don't have to go through this whole hierarchy of whatever, you can just be self-sufficient.
SFBG Some of your early groups were punk bands [Tappi Tíkarrass, and KUKL, which toured with Crass], I was wondering how you discovered punk as a teen, and ended up working with Crass?
Björk I was hanging out with kids that were older than me, like the other guy who used to sing in the Sugarcubes and another guy who was friends with Crass. They played our country, and then we would go and visit them at their farm [Dial House in Essex], and for me what was most important was that one of the bands that was on Crass' label, a band called Flux of Pink Indians, had a bass player called Derek Birkett and he helped the Sugarcubes release their first album, just from his bedroom. And he's my manager still today. So I've worked with him for like, 30 years now.
It's pretty much DIY, especially now when the labels are not really functional like they used to be. It's pretty much just three of us that do most of my stuff.
SFBG Do you have any other long-term goals with Biophillia, or are you working on your next project?