We spoke to the First Lady of Crazy about the new album, working with Timbaland and that nutty Oscars swan dress thing…
We heard that when you first came to London, you didn’t understand it until you watched French and Saunders… [Note to non-Brits: French and Saunders was the sketch show that launched Ab Fab.]
I think I was saying that when I lived there I didn’t really watch television except for comedy. But that’s England for you. Comedy is so important there.
Did you see when Dawn French did that piss-take of you rolling around in the back of a lorry?
Yeah, it was when I was there. I sent her a letter and thanked her.
You weren’t insulted?
No! Come on! You’ve got to have a laugh, right?
So, the new album. And collaborations with Antony of …and the Johnsons and Timbaland…
With Antony it was quite organic ’cause we have mutual friends and I heard about him a few years ago and it sort of became almost gradual until it was like, ‘Shall we do something then?’
With Timbaland it was completely different. We wrote those songs a year ago and after that his life got incredibly busy. He wend and did the Justin Timberlake thing and the Nelly Furtado thing and just didn’t have a lot of time so I ended up finishing the songs myself, which wasn’t a bad thing and I felt honoured that he trusted me. Me and Timbaland have this long-distance respect thing. Even if we didn’t know each other, we’d been listening to each other’s records a lot and there was this small sectin where both Bjork and Tim can live. And it was interesting going into the studio and in three hours we had seven songs or something.
It’s like speed dating.
Yeah, I thought, ‘I’ve never worked like this: how fast!’ and he said to me, ‘I’ve never worked like this: how fast!’
Why did you choose to live in New York when you used to live in London?
A mix of things. It’s not somewhere I’ve wanted to live all my life or anything like that. it’s different from London in that London was always the big city next to Iceland and I remember going to London when I was 16 with all my pocket money. I really did love London but there was a time when I had the paparazzi hanging outside my bush.
That sounds rude!
That was a mistake [laughing]. You could take it that way as well if you want. I’m not judging people who thrive on that sort of attention but i don’t.
Did you feel invaded?
It made me feel like expanded into this monster and if I blinked my eyes then fifty people would know about it. I find it a very interesting thing. I can read about it. All this about Anna Nicole Smith in the papers, I’m fascinated by it. I just don’t want that to be myself. Another of the reasons I ended up in New York was I don’t get followed around here, which is amazing. And my boyfriend’s from here…
People still talk about your amazing Oscars dress, don’t they?
For me, going to the Oscars, it just felt ridiculous. It was just so tacky. Maybe tacky’s not the right word but because I’m not an actress… The songs that win the Oscars are like Phil Collins doing jungle music for a Disney cartoon. It’s like, respect but it’s got nothing to do with me so I really didn’t feel I fit into this world and I guess it sort of backfired on me. I was trying to be a bit tongue-in-cheek with that dress. I brought these six ostrich eggs and I was placing them on the red carpet and all these lifeguards [bodyguards] for the stars kept running up to me and going, ‘Excuse me ma’am, I think you dropped something.’ And I just thought the whole thing was really funny. If I’d gone to the BAFTAs and on the red carpet I’d left these six eggs, they would have just taken the piss out of me, obviously, because I’m an easy target. The joke’s on me. But you should have a sense of humour about yourself.
The album Volta is out now.