Björk at Torhout/Werchter '96 (Belgium)

At Torhout (Saturday, July 6th)


"Thousands of fans arrived at the secondary stage in Torhout to see Björk, but sadly, they will have to wait until about 0:30 [instead of the scheduled 21:50], when Neil Young has stopped and Björk can start, with a drummer of course, because the reason for this delay is that his airplane was canceled, so he couldn't arrive on time in Torhout.
I went to see Björk in her dressing room. She looks fantastic, she's got some kind of blond-orange hairstyle, she's wearing a yellow jacket, cute shoes, looking a bit like a Chinese girl. She looks very small, actually. I went to ask her a question about Neil Young. Everyone here considers him to be the father of rock'n roll, and I asked Björk what Neil Young meant to her."

"Well, I... I don't know his music. And also, er, for me, because my parents listened so much to rock music, and mostly - well they didn't listen to Neil Young, that's why I don't know him [she laughs] - they listened to people like Jimmy Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Cream, erm, you know, all the hippy bands and erm... So for me, it was natural reaction, when I was seven, to start to rebel against that. And erm, try to find out a new music. And then, I'm just that generation, you see. It's nothing personal. And so, to start in a punk - punk came when I was 12 - and I started in a punk band when I was 12 and er, played the drums and had shaved all my hair off and it was anti-rock, you know. So, what I'm doing now, is erm, trying to discover something that is not based on that, you know."

"Who were your heroes at the time, then?"

"Well, I never really had musical heroes. It's always been different people. Because I was very lucky I was introduced to so much music, from the age of one years old. My grandparents played jazz all the time, my parents played whatever was fashionable, like the hippy in the sixties and seventies. It was music 24 hours in my house. And I was always cued by the recordplayer. The minute one record was finished, there was another one who was on and everything on ten. And then I went to music school when I was five, and from five to fifteen I was introduced to classical music, so er, I got introduced to everything. And there's very few people - I don't like very much when people make people that do music into god or goddesses. And they do one song and they think everything they do is great. And I think it's rubbish. I think it's a lot of good songs that some people have done - maybe 90% of what they've done is terrible, but they've done maybe 10% which is great. But there's no person that I like everything they did.

"Björk, imagine that you would be the boss of this festival and you had to choose the line-up, here today on this festival. Who would perform on the festival then, if you could say and decide who were to be the bands to perform here?"

"Well I'm pretty happy with what's going on, you know. I'm not that puritanist. I'm very curious. I like to see everything."

"Have you seen anything today yet?"

"No, I've been to busy, I also had a panic-attack because my drummer is not here, but now I have swapped with Neil Young. Neil Young was very very kind and offered to swap with us. So they are going on when I go on and then I go on after and maybe my drummer will be here then. So I've been running around sweating. I really like Sepultura. I would love to see them. I still haven't seen them. I'm gonna try to see them tomorrow.

"Björk, in normal circumstances - I mean if the drummer is here and everything is OK - how do you prepare to a gig like tonight?"

"When my voice is not so good, I have acupuncture - and I already had acupuncture today. Sometimes I do warm-ups with my voice, but it's just if my voice is not good. If my voice is OK, I don't do anything, because I think it's... I'm very devoted to popmusic in heart [she says "heart" with a determined, rolling Icelandic "r"] and as a principle that popmusic should be something that anybody can do anytime. And I would love to just live a regular life and laugh and go on stage."

"I wish you a lot of success tonight and thanks for talking to us."

Björk [very timid]:
"Thank you."


"Björk started about ten minutes ago. We had to wait til the end of Neil Young's "Rocking in the free world", before Björk could begin. And she did so in a scenery of plastic cactuses, or something like that, with a half circular white screen against the background of the stage. Between all that was Björk, in a smashing lightshow. She started a capella, to continue with "Army Of Me", and that's about all I've seen of Björk today, so I expect to see the whole performance tomorrow, as the time-table will be followed then."

At Werchter (Sunday, July 7th)


"The public had to wait very long, from around ten o'clock to half past midnight, but it was worth it, because Björk was simply fantastic. She does her thing in a very weird scenery, including plastic trees, and visuals are projected on a big white screen at the back. She started a capella, followed by a collection of hits, like "Violently happy" and "Isobel" and "Big Time Sensuality", and it all ended with "It's Oh So Quiet", which was a bit of a lie, since immense fireworks were let off, ending Rock Torhout."


"We just saw exactly the same opening ritual as yesterday ; that was a music fragment in which you hear a kind of child's voice, singing a French song, and then Björk who continues a capella, while the lightshow starts impressively. With a crowd that is going completely bonkers, you have no idea! The people are enjoying themselves like crazy. Björk only has to make the slightest movement to make everyone cheer, it's great to watch. And on stage, we see the same thing as yesterday, people pushing buttons and a drummer who was on time this once and who does his job very restrained, because Björk's music is based on subtleties. After a while, after a song or three I think, three long curtains are lowered. It's a pity, but unfortunately we are not allowed to broadcast any music, as madam Björk has a rather strict management and today it was impossible to do any interviews ; photos can be made, but television broadcasts were absolutely out of the question, and they didn't allow the concert to be recorded."


"Björk has just ended her gig and the fireworks are already occuring.
The fireworks have ended and I left just in time, as it was very dangerous there. It was not recommended to run around there without earplugs, directly after the secondary stage. This brings me back to Björk, the flowergirl, the Ice Princess. I only have superlatives for Björk. I find her an amazing woman. I have seen her perform live a couple of times now, and she really is amazing. I am completely mad about her, I would actually want to hug and kiss her."


"What the people of MTV have done, is leave for Bruges, because Björk didn't like to do interviews backstage here at Werchter. So they left with Björk to film her in a chocolate factory. She was permitted to make chocolate herself, among other things. The people of the factory had made her name out of huge chocolate characters. Then, Björk had submerged herself completely in the chocolate, with her face covered in fondant and it was all very amusing. She arrived two hours late and the workers had to be present in the factory, even if it was Sunday, and they were all standing there in their uniform. So, very soon on your MTV channel, Björk in Belgian chocolate."

Translated from Belgian radio station Studio Brussel, by Thomas Stevens.

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