Iceland's finest export talks music, tech and getting old
Your latest album Vulnicura is quite emotional. How are you feeling now? I feel very, very different now. I wrote those songs a couple of years ago, which is a long time in affairs of the heart. Vulnicura was extreme. It was like, ‘How melodramatic am I being here?’ I decided that if I went all the way, it’d be tidiest in the long run. If I go really messy now, the mess will be done.
When you listen back to Debut and the tracks from Post that made you famous, such as ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’, what do you think? I have a good relationship with my old songs. Obviously I can’t say that they couldn’t have been better. But I did my best at the time, and you can’t do any more than that. I also feel that each was very much a child of its time. I have an obligation to be the person of the age I am. At 49, I’m going to do a very different album than when I was 25.
Has making music become less mind-boggling? Every single time it’s going to be as difficult to solve the mystery – like, ‘Who am I?’ There are more hindrances because I’m a woman. Being the sort of topsy-turvy prankster I am, that makes me even more excited about the impossible riddle of that. Not many women singers have documented themselves after the age of 60.
How can you do that without pretending you’re 25? I have this beautiful album by [French artist] Louise Bourgeois where she’s singing – when she’s 70 or something – French children’s songs. And coughing between and smoking. I love it.
Your 2011 album Biophilia was released alongside a series of iPad apps. Can you imagine doing another album that’s multi-platform? I can see that happening. I’m just not sure what it is yet. It would have to be from a totally different angle. I’m flattered because people think of me as this really techy person, but I’m actually not.
Really? I’m a messenger of the average person. The way I use technology has always been waiting for it to come to me. I worked for such a long time in studios, and I see it quite a lot, people learn one gear and they get really good at it, and it starts directing the songwriting. The tool becomes the leader. I’m a singer, that’s my main tool, so that directs me a lot. With the Biophilia apps it was like, ‘Wow, now it’s so simple. I understand it.’
You had surgery on your vocal cords last year. How’s your voice holding up? Since the operation, I have some of the high notes better than I have had for a while, but also I’ve got some deep notes that I didn’t have before. And I haven’t used them. I’d like maybe to do an EP just with the deep notes. Vulnicura is available on www.apple.com/ae/itunes