Björk Continues Fighting for Iceland's Natural Resources, Makes Music on the Side
Published Dec 03, 2010When it comes to her native Iceland, Björk has a lot to say. As far as her homeland's current controversy surrounding Canadian energy company Magma's almost total takeover of the geothermal resource management company HS Orka goes, the singer, as well as her countrymen, isn't exactly pleased. She believes that Iceland's energy should be controlled by the nation itself, not foreign investors.
An interview with Maclean's last month had Björk lambasting Magma CEO Ross Beaty for his allegedly sketchy business practices. Following its publication, Magma threatened Maclean's with a defamation suit.
"Companies owned by Ross Beaty have a bad reputation for breaking serious humanitarian and union laws in South America -- not giving farmers shares of profit they had promised and so on -- but this is normal. This is the kind of beast you're dealing with," Björk said in the original piece.
Maclean's has since retracted much of the feature, alleging that Björk's claims could not be proven. A new interview with Pitchfork now finds the performer defending her statements, clarifying that, while she was speaking of another of Beaty's companies, American venture Pan American Silver, the principle of still applies. Björk also alleges that the reason for the lawsuit had to do with her questioning the amount of geothermal power Magma could actually provide.
"I said there were rumours that Ross Beaty's other company, Pan American Silver, had broken humanitarian, union, and environmental rights/laws in South America. Maclean's said they couldn't keep it on their website unless it had been proven in court," she told Pitchfork. "My gut feeling, though, is that the real reason Ross threatened to sue was because, in the interview, I corrected two things he has not been telling the truth about in the foreign press, things the Icelandic people know and the Icelandic media write about differently. He has said that geothermal energy lasts for a thousand years and that his company has access to 400 megawatts in Iceland. This is not true. With the sort of methods they use it will probably last around 50 years and he only has access to about 150 megawatts."
The energy issue is complicated by the fact that Magma owns 98.5 percent of HS Orka. Björk has since started a petition against the Magma deal, which has currently over 20,500 supporters hoping to overturn the deal. This, along with the announcement this week that 25 Icelanders will start rewriting the country's constitution next year, may influence how Iceland could alter the situation and how it will deal with foreign investors in the future. Following the country's financial collapse, Björk feels that Iceland just needs to find its footing and remain independent.
"It is not long since we became independent, 60 years, and we are still learning. A little clumsy at times but stubborn and persistent," she said.
The Pitchfork interview also reveals something much lighter: Björk is almost finished her new record. There aren't too many details about the follow-up to 2007's Volta, but the singer says "it will be ready in few months." Just let her focus on something a little more serious for a bit.
"It is hard for me to say while I am in the middle of it but it is impossible for me to just stick gum in my ears and blindfold myself while finish my new album," she said. "There is a revolution going on in Iceland right now."