Last night Iceland’s national mascot Björk stopped by The Colbert Report for a quick interview and to treat everybody to “Cosmogony,” from her album Biophilia. The interview between the seemingly-real-but-fake Stephen Colbert and the seemingly-fake-but-real Björk could’ve been an utter mess of uncomfortable non-sequiturs, but it ended up being enlightening and entertaining. Björk explained the multi-platform Biophilia was born out of her desire to write an album on a touchscreen, which she felt was more intuitive than writing music with a mouse. This being Björk, we can’t be entirely sure she didn’t mean the rodent variety.
She also admitted she’s not able to sing while playing the guitar or piano, “…like those troubadour people,” but with the touch screen, “Finally [she] can be a troubadour.” We also learned the Icelandic singer loved math and physics as a child (aw, nerd!), so she wanted an album integrated with scientific themes (sample song titles: “Dark Matter,” “Virus,” “Crystalline”). Eventually these ideas morphed into the album/app pack/multimedia project that is Biophilia.
This is all fascinating, but at some point you have to strip away the apps and whistles and actually perform the songs. To the YouTube viewers at home, Björk’s live performances of Biophilia have proven to be somewhat grandiose, performed with a whole caravan in tow — a choir, a pipe organ, even a lightning machine, and oh yeah her giant ginger poof. For Colbert, she swapped out the lightning machine for the world’s quietest four-touchscreen (four iPads?) drum machine. Wearing a shiny blue dress with what appeared to be avant-garde hemorrhoid pillows fastened to it (natch), Björk willed us to get lost in the delicate “Cosmology.” But the most interesting part of the performance was the female choir. Each member had her own microphone, and this multitude of voices gave their chants an ethereal, quavering quality, as if their vocals were being warped.
Overall it was a subtle, technical exhibition, exactly the type of stuff music and comedy nerds could geek out about.
Watch Björk’s chat with Colbert below: