Björk Guðmundsdóttir

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Björk

Björk at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in April 2007.
Background information
Birth name Björk Guðmundsdóttir
Born (1965-11-21) 21 November 1965 (age 46)
Reykjavík, Iceland
Genres Alternative rock, electronica, experimental, ethereal wave, trip hop, jazz, folk, alternative dance, avant-garde, industrial, rave, baroque pop
Occupations Musician, songwriter, music composer, producer, actress, fashion model
Instruments Vocals, keyboards, piano, flute, drums, piccolo, harmonica, harp, oboe
Years active 1977–present
Labels One Little Indian, Polydor, Universal, Elektra, Atlantic, Nonesuch, Warner Bros.
Associated acts The Sugarcubes, Thom Yorke, Tappi Tíkarrass, KUKL, Gling-Glo, Timbaland
Website bjork.com

Björk Guðmundsdóttir (play /ˈbjɜrk/; [ˈpjœr̥k ˈkvʏðmʏntsˌtoʊhtɪr] ( listen); born 21 November 1965), known as Björk, is an Icelandic singer-songwriter. Her musical style is eclectic and she has achieved recognition in rock, jazz, electronic dance music, classical, and folk.[1]

Björk’s 1990s singles “It’s Oh So Quiet“, “Army of Me” and “Hyperballad” charted in the UK Top 10.[citation needed] Her record label, One Little Indian, reported that by 2003 she had sold more than 15 million albums worldwide.[2] She has acquired a high level of critical acclaim.[3] She has won four BRIT Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards, one MOJO Award, three UK Music Video Awards, and, in 2010, the Polar Music Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Music, in recognition for her “deeply personal music and lyrics, her precise arrangements and her unique voice”.[4]

Björk has also been nominated for twelve Grammy Awards, one Academy Award and two Golden Globe Awards. She won the Best Actress Award at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival for her performance in Dancer in the Dark.[5] She was ranked thirty-sixth in VH1‘s “The 100 Greatest Women in Rock and Roll”,[6] eighth in MTV‘s “22 Greatest Voices in Music”,[7] and sixtieth in Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Singers of All Time”.[8]

Contents

[edit] Early life

Björk was born and raised in Reykjavík, Iceland. Her father is Guðmundur Gunnarsson, a union leader and electrician, and her mother is Hildur Rúna Hauksdóttir, an activist who protested against Kárahnjúkar, a controversial hydro-electric development in Iceland.[9]

Her musical career began when she was eleven with her study of classical piano in elementary school. One of her instructors sent a recording of Björk singing Tina Charles‘ song “I Love to Love” to RÚV, then the only radio station in Iceland. The recording was broadcast on radio nationally; after hearing it, a representative of the record label Fálkinn contacted Björk to offer a record contract. An album, Björk, was recorded and released in 1977.

In her teens, Björk was influenced by punk; at 14 she formed the all-girl punk band Spit and Snot, shortly followed by the jazz fusion group Exodus in 1979. In 1980 she graduated from music school. In 1981 she and bassist Jakob Magnússon formed another band called Jam-80, which later became Tappi Tíkarrass (which means “Cork the Bitch’s Ass” in Icelandic), and released an extended single, “Bítið Fast í Vítið” in the same year. Their album, Miranda, was released in 1983.

Björk collaborated with Einar Örn Benediktsson and Einar Melax from Purrkur Pillnikk, and Guðlaugur Óttarsson, Sigtryggur Baldursson, and Birgir Mogensen from Þeyr. After writing songs and rehearsing for two weeks, the new band, KUKL (“sorcery” in Icelandic), developed a sound described as Gothic rock. Björk began to show indications of her trademark singing style, which was punctuated by howls and shrieks.

KUKL toured Iceland with anarchist UK punk band Crass, and later visited the UK in a series of performances with Flux of Pink Indians. They produced two albums as a result of these collaborations: The Eye in 1984, and Holidays in Europe in 1986, both on Crass Records.

The band eventually dissolved, in part due to the closure of their label, Gramm. In mid-1986, several members of KUKL and the surrealist group Medusa got together to create the arts collective Smekkleysa (Bad Taste). They created a musical division, a band again called KUKL, but soon changed the name to The Sugarcubes.

[edit] The Sugarcubes

The Sugarcubes’ first single, “Ammæli” (meaning “Birthday” in Icelandic), became a surprise hit in the UK after being declared single of the week by Melody Maker. The Sugarcubes were immediately signed up by One Little Indian, a new label set up by Derek Birkett, the former bass player of Flux of Pink Indians. They gained a cult following in the US and UK, and calls from larger record companies began coming in. They rejected all these offers, and instead chose to have complete creative control by remaining with a friend’s label. Björk is still signed to this label. The Sugarcubes also signed a distribution deal with Elektra Records in the United States, and recorded their first album, Life’s Too Good, in 1988. Its release propelled them into international stardom—an unprecedented success for an Icelandic rock band. While with the Sugarcubes, Björk participated in several side projects. She recorded Gling-Gló, a collection of popular jazz and original work, with the jazz group Trio Guðmundar Ingólfssonar, released in Iceland. Björk also contributed vocals to 808 State‘s album ex:el, with whom she cultivated her interest in house music. She contributed vocals on the songs “Qmart” & “Ooops” which was released as a single in the UK and was later included on 808 State’s “Best Of” album, 808:88:98. She also contributed vocals to the song “Falling”, on the album “Island” by Current 93 and Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson.

[edit] Solo career

[edit] 1992–96: Pop-dance beginnings, Debut and Post

Björk performing in Japan with The Sugarcubes

In 1992, The Sugarcubes split up. They remain friends and are all still involved in the management of Smekkleysa/Bad Taste. Björk moved to London to pursue a solo career; she began working with producer Nellee Hooper (who had produced for Massive Attack, among others). Their partnership produced Björk’s first international solo hit, “Human Behaviour“, a clattering dance track based on a guitar rhythm sampled from Antonio Carlos Jobim. In most countries the song was not widely played on radio, but was widely seen on MTV, accompanied by an influential video by Oscar-winning film director Michel Gondry, who would become a frequent collaborator for Björk.[10]

Her solo debut album, Debut, was released in June 1993 to positive reviews; it was named album of the year by NME, and eventually went platinum in the United States.[11] Debut was the leap Björk made from being in numerous bands during her teens and early twenties, to her solo career. But although this was far from her real debut as a singer and musician, having released her first solo album at the age of 11, she named the album Debut to signify a start of something brand new. Debut had a mix of songs Björk had been writing since she was a teenager, as well as more recent lyrical collaborations with Hooper. Although the music was mostly dance-oriented, it was varied in instrumentation. One single from the album, “Venus As a Boy”, featured a Bollywood-influenced string arrangement, Björk covered the jazz standard “Like Someone in Love” to the accompaniment of a harp, and the final track, “The Anchor Song”, was sung with only a saxophone ensemble for accompaniment.

At the 1994 BRIT Awards Björk won the awards for Best International Female and Best International Newcomer.[12] The success of Debut enabled her to collaborate with other British and artists on one-off tracks. She worked with David Arnold on “Play Dead”, the theme to the 1993 film The Young Americans (which appeared as a bonus track on a re-release of Debut), collaborated on two songs for Tricky‘s Nearly God project, appeared on a track on the 1997 album Not For Threes by Plaid, which was released on the Warp Records label, and co-wrote the song “Bedtime Story” for Madonna‘s 1994 album Bedtime Stories.

Post was Björk’s second solo studio album. Released in June 1995, the album was produced in conjunction with Nellee Hooper, Tricky, Graham Massey of 808 State, and electronica producer Howie B. Building on the success of her previous album Debut, Björk continued to pursue different sounds, taking particular interest in dance and techno. Production by Tricky and Howie B also provided trip hop/electronica-like sounds on tracks like “Possibly Maybe” and “Enjoy”. It was these producers’ influence along with older friend Graham Massey, that inspired Björk to create material like the storming industrial beats of “Army of Me“. Post however also included more subtle and playful moments than Debut, with deeper jazz and orchestral arrangements on some tracks and a mood of intimate contemplation toward the end.

The album was ranked number 7 in Spins “Top 90 Albums of the 90′s list, and number 75 in their “100 Greatest Albums, 1985–2005″ list.[13][14]Post and Homogenic were placed back to back on Pitchfork Media‘s “Top Albums of the ’90s” list at numbers 21 and 20, respectively.[15][16] In 2003, the album was ranked number 373 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[17] Although again Bjork received more mainstream attention for her videos than her singles, Post included several UK pop hits and was eventually certified platinum in the US.[11]

[edit] 1997–2002: Embracing beats, strings, Homogenic and Vespertine

Björk performing at Ruisrock, Turku, Finland, 1998.

In 1997, the album Homogenic was released. It marked a dramatic shift from her earlier “pixie” image cultivated on the Debut and Post albums. Björk worked with producers Mark Bell of LFO and Howie B on the album, as well as Eumir Deodato; numerous remixes followed. Homogenic was her first conceptually self-contained album and is regarded as one of Björk’s most experimental and extroverted works to date, with enormous beats that reflect the landscape of Iceland, most notably in the song “Jóga“, which fuses lush strings with rocky electronic crunches. The album was certified gold in the US in 2001.[11]

The emotionally-charged album contains a string of music videos, several of which received airplay on MTV. The video for “Bachelorette” was directed by frequent collaborator Michel Gondry, while “All Is Full of Love” was directed by Chris Cunningham. The single “All is Full of Love” was also the first DVD single to ever be released in the US, which paved the way for other artists to include DVD video and other multimedia features with their singles.

In an interview with Spin magazine, Radiohead singer Thom Yorke called the song “Unravel” from this album his favourite song ever, claiming “I’m trying to get Radiohead to do a cover because I think it’s one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard.” In November 2007, the band covered the song as part of a live webcast. The video can be seen on YouTube.[18]

Björk performing at the Radio City Music Hall in 2001.

In 2001, Björk released the album Vespertine. The album featured chamber orchestras, choirs, hushed vocals, microbeats made from household sounds, and personal, vulnerable themes. She collaborated with experimental sound manipulators Matmos, Denmark-based DJ Thomas Knak, and the experimental harpist Zeena Parkins for the album. Lyrical sources included the works of American poet E. E. Cummings, the American independent filmmaker Harmony Korine and English playwright Sarah Kane‘s penultimate play, Crave. To coincide with the album’s release, Björk released a coffee table book of loose prose and photographs titled Björk.[19] Björk embarked on a tour of theatres and opera houses in Europe and North America in support of the album, accompanied by the musicians Matmos, Zeena Parkins and an Inuit choir, whom she had held auditions for on a trip to Greenland prior to the tour.[20] At the time Vespertine was Björk’s quickest selling album ever, having sold two million copies by the end of 2001.[21]

Vespertine spawned three singles: “Hidden Place“, “Pagan Poetry“, and “Cocoon.” MTV2 played the album’s first video, “Hidden Place”, which was subsequently released as a DVD single. However, the next video, for “Pagan Poetry“, brought Björk to an even higher level of controversy with the channel. The song’s video features graphic piercings, Björk’s exposed nipples, and simulated fellatio.[22] As a result, the clip was initially rarely shown by MTV, and certain parts (for example, Björk’s breasts) were censored during the rare occasions when it was played. In 2002, the clip finally enjoyed unedited American airing as part of a late night special on MTV2 entitled “Most Controversial Music Videos”. The video for “Cocoon” also featured a seemingly naked Björk (actually wearing a close fitting bodysuit), this time with her nipples secreting a red thread that eventually enveloped the singer in a cocoon. The video was directed by Japanese artist Eiko Ishioka, and was not aired by MTV.

2002 saw the appearance of the CD box set Family Tree containing a retrospective of Björk’s career, comprising many previously unreleased versions of her compositions, including her work with the Brodsky Quartet. Also released alongside Family Tree was the album Greatest Hits, a retrospective of the previous 10 years of her solo career as deemed by the public: the songs on the album were chosen by Björk’s fans through a poll on her website. A DVD edition of the CD was also released; it contained all of Björk’s solo music videos up to that point. The new single from the set, “It’s In Our Hands”, charted in the UK at number 37. The video, directed by Spike Jonze, features a heavily pregnant Björk.

Björk performing at the Fuji Rock Festival in 2003.

[edit] 2003–06: Medúlla and vocal development

Björk and the Brodsky Quartet recorded a composition written, especially for her, by composer John Tavener called “Prayer Of The Heart” in 2001 and it was played then for a slide show presentation in 2003 for the American photographer, Nan Goldin.

In 2003, Björk released a box set called Live Box, consisting of four CDs containing live recordings of her previous albums and a DVD featuring a video of one track from each CD. Each of the four CDs were later released separately at a reduced price.

In August 2004, Björk released Medúlla. During production, Björk decided the album would work best as an entirely vocal-based album. However, this initial plan didn’t materialize exactly that way, as the majority of the sounds on the album are indeed created by vocalists but several feature prominent basic electronic programming. Björk used the vocal skills of throat singer Tagaq, hip hop beatboxer Rahzel, Japanese beatboxer Dokaka, avant-rocker Mike Patton, Soft Machine drummer/singer Robert Wyatt, and several choirs; she again appropriated text from e. e. cummings for the song “Sonnets/Unrealities XI”. At the time Medúlla became her highest charting album in the US, debuting at number 14. It has since been surpassed by Volta, which debuted at number nine in the US.

In August 2004, Björk performed the song “Oceania” at the Opening Ceremony of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. As she sang, her dress slowly unfurled to reveal a 10,000 square foot (900 m²) map of the world, which she let flow over all of the Olympic athletes. The song “Oceania” was written especially for the occasion and features the talents of Shlomo, a Leeds-based beatboxer, and a London choir. An alternate version of the song began circulating on the Internet with additional vocals by Kelis. It originally appeared on the promotional “Oceania” single released to radio stations and later became available to the public as a B-side of the “Who Is It” single, which charted at number 26 in the UK. This was followed in early 2005 by “Triumph of a Heart“, charting at number 31. A video for the potential next single, “Where Is the Line?“, was filmed in collaboration with the Icelandic artist Gabríela Fridriksdóttir in late 2004. This was initially a sequence from an art installation movie of the artists, but was released exclusively on the Medúlla Videos DVD as an official promo for the track.

Other than these few performances, no concerts or tours were arranged to promote Medúlla. Björk said in numerous interviews that this was because she wished to immediately continue writing and recording yet another new album. She spoke to Rolling Stone in June 2004: “Every album I’ve done, the minute that it’s done, I feel really lubricated and, like, ‘Wow, now I can write an album in five minutes’… And I just want to find out if that’s just a fantasy or if it’s true.” Also, Björk thought it would be too difficult to play the songs live.[23]

Björk DJing on her computer in June 2006.

In 2006, Björk remastered her first three solo studio albums (Debut, Post, Homogenic) and her two soundtrack albums (Selmasongs and Drawing Restraint 9) in 5.1 surround sound for a re-issue in a new box-set titled Surrounded, released on 27 June. Vespertine and Medúlla were already available in 5.1 as either DVD-A or SACD but are also included in the box set in repackaged format. The DualDiscs were also released separately.[24]

During this era, Björk earned another BRIT Awards nomination for Best International Female Solo Artist.[25] She was also awarded the Inspiration Award at the Annual Q Magazine Awards in October 2005, accepting the prize from Robert Wyatt, with whom she collaborated on Medúlla.[26]

Björk’s former band, The Sugarcubes, reunited for a one-night-only concert in Reykjavík on 17 November 2006. Profits from the concert were donated to The Sugarcubes’ former label, Smekkleysa, who according to Björk’s press statement “continue to work on a non-profit basis for the future betterment of Icelandic music”.[27]

[edit] 2007–10: Volta and global collaboration

Björk contributed a cover of Joni Mitchell‘s song “The Boho Dance” to the tribute album A Tribute to Joni Mitchell, released on 24 April 2007.

Björk’s sixth full-length studio album, Volta, was released on 7 May 2007. It features 10 tracks primarily written and produced by Björk herself, and intended as more direct and extroverted than her past few albums, but featuring a wide range of collaborators and cross-cultural musical elements. Volta features input from acclaimed hip hop producer Timbaland, singer Antony Hegarty, poet Sjón, electronic beat programmer Mark Bell, kora master Toumani Diabate, pipa player Min Xiaofen, and on several songs, brass compositions by an all-female ensemble from Iceland. It also uses the Reactable, a novel “tangible-interface” synthesizer from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, which on Volta is played by Damian Taylor.

The first single from the album, “Earth Intruders“, was released digitally on 9 April 2007 and became her second-ever Billboard Hot 100 entry in the United States. Volta debuted at number nine on the Billboard 200 albums chart, becoming her first Top 10 album in the US, netting week-one sales of 43,000. The album also reached number three on the French albums chart with sales of 20,600 albums sold in its first week, and number seven in the UK Albums Chart with 20,456 units sold. The second single from the album, “Innocence“, was digitally released on 23 July 2007, with an accompanying music video chosen from a contest conducted through her official website. “Declare Independence” was released on 1 January 2008 in a super deluxe packaging including 2 x 12″ Vinyls, a CD and a DVD featuring Oscar-winning French director Michel Gondry‘s “Declare Independence” video.[28]Wanderlust” was subsequently released in a similar format, featuring Encyclopedia Pictura’s short film directed for the track, shot in stereoscopic 3D. The fifth single released from the album was “The Dull Flame of Desire“, featuring vocals by Antony Hegarty. Upon its 27 September 2008 digital release, it topped the Billboard Hot Dance Singles Sales chart and reached number three on the Billboard Hot Singles Sales chart.[citation needed]

Björk then completed an 18 month world tour, having performed at many festivals and returning to Latin America after nine years, playing in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Curitiba, Guadalajara, Bogotá, Lima, Santiago de Chile and Buenos Aires as part of different events. She also returned to Australia and New Zealand for the first time in 12 years in January 2008, touring the nations with the Big Day Out Festival. She played a one-off intimate show at the Sydney Opera House, as part of the Sydney Festival.

Announced via an eBay auction, a new Björk track was discovered under the title “Náttúra“. Björk commented the song was “composed especially to encourage active support for a more environmental approach to Iceland’s natural resources than those suggested by parties who are aloof and blind to the consequences of their actions.”
The song was initially labeled as a new single by Björk with backing vocals from Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke. Björk’s official website later confirmed that the single would be released on October 27, 2008, through iTunes,[29] however the track was eventually made available at nattura.grapewire.net, exclusively.[30]

Damian Taylor has mentioned collaborating with Björk on her new album using instruments like the Reactable and the Tenori-on.[31]

According to an October 2008 interview with Pitchfork magazine, Björk plans to take the next three to four years to record her next album.[32]

In a statement released by bjork.com, a limited edition boxset entitled Voltaïc from One Little Indian Records was announced, with a release date in North America of April 20, 2009 (later delayed to mid-June). The release consists of various live recordings of performances in Paris and Reykjavík. The live set was also recorded at the Olympic Studio in London. The release is available as Standard, Deluxe and Deluxe Vinyl, including up to four discs, depending on format. Disc 1 (AUDIO) Songs From The Volta Tour Performed Live At Olympic Studios Disc 2 (DVD) The Volta Tour Live In Paris, Live in Reykjavik Disc 3 (DVD) The Volta Videos and the video competition Disc 4 (CD) The Volta Mixes. [33]

In May 2010, the Royal Swedish Academy of Music announced that Björk was to receive the prestigious Polar Music Prize alongside Ennio Morricone.[34] A month later, Björk, along with Dirty Projectors, announced that they would be collaborating on a joint EP entitled Mount Wittenberg Orca, which was released on 30 June, to raise money for marine conservation.[35] In September 2010, Björk released “The Comet Song” as part of the soundtrack for the movie Moomins and the Comet Chase. Also in 2010, she dueted with fellow Icelander (and One Little Indian labelmate) Olof Arnalds on a track called “Surrender” from Arnalds’ new album, Innundir skinni[36] and performed a duet with Antony and the Johnsons on the album Swanlights. The song is titled “Flétta”.[37]

On 20 September 2010, Björk performed her version of “Gloomy Sunday” at designer Alexander McQueen‘s memorial in St. Paul’s cathedral in London. On 7 December 2010, a previously unreleased song was released by Björk soundtracking a film made by Nick Knight as a tribute to McQueen, with whom Björk collaborated on multiple occasions.

Björk appeared on Átta Raddir, one of Jónas Sen’s TV shows.[38] The episode aired on February 27, 2011.[39] The shows are produced by The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service.[40] In the show Björk performed eight songs, including “Sun In My Mouth” which had not previously been performed live.

[edit] 2011–present: Biophilia, music, technology and nature

Björk, along with long-time collaborative partner, Michel Gondry, were originally announced to collaborate on a 3-D “scientific musical”. Gondry states that it will be a 40-minute IMAX museum project.[41] On 3 December 2010, in an interview with Pitchfork, Björk was asked if she was “working on anything at the moment”, and replied “Yes, it will be ready in [a] few months.”[42] On 17 February 2011, Pitchfork reported that Björk would release a collaboration with Syrian musician Omar Souleyman. The project will be available “on limited 12-inch, CD, and digital download sometime this year”.[43]

On 17 March 2011, Björk confirmed details about her next project, Biophilia. The new project will combine music with technological innovation and themes of science and nature, including an “app album”, educational collaborations with children and specialized live performance, kicking off in Manchester, United Kingdom at the Manchester International Festival on 30 June. She will perform at the event for six nights. It is expected that the special project Biophilia will see her tour a select number of cities with extended residencies.[44] Björk performed at Bestival on 11 September. The press release stated that this would be her only outdoor concert of the year.[45] She is also scheduled to perform six shows, among which two during the Iceland Airwaves Festival, at Harpa in Iceland from 12 October to 7 November.[46]

In June 2011, the first single off Biophilia, “Crystalline“, was released.[47] The song was composed using complex breakbeats along with only one of several specialized instruments custom built for the project, the “gameleste”, a celesta modified with elements of gamelan. Other instruments used on the album and in Bjork’s live performances harness lightning to create sound.

A central part of Biophilia is a series of interactive iPad apps made by leading programmers and designers, one app for each of the 10 songs on the new album. Bjork discussed how the apps would represent the scientific and natural ideas within the songs and enable people to play and understand the songs and ideas in different ways, such as “Virus”, a love song between a virus and a cell, in which the “Virus” app will stop playing the song if you are successful in stopping the destructive relationship. Two of the apps, “Crystalline” and “Cosmogony”, were released on 19 July 2011, along with a music video for “Crystalline”, directed by Michel Gondry. However, the album was released in usual form as a series of 10 music tracks as well, including a CD release, on 10 October 2011, and Bjork said it is designed to work as music just as any of her other albums are.

In a June 2011 interview with Stereogum, Björk stated that her contract with her international record labels had ended since all promotions for Volta concluded and that she has signed with both National Geographic and Nonesuch for Biophilia.[48][49]

[edit] Music and voice

[edit] Compositions

Björk’s music style tends to be quite eclectic and often challenging. She has embraced many genres throughout her career, creating a varied range of pieces, from big band music to sound art. Björk’s lyrical themes range from personal matters to scientific, natural, or social topics.

[edit] Voice

Björk possesses a soprano vocal range.[50] Her vocal range covers three octaves, going from F3 to E6, but she tends to use her chest and mid voice more often, using her head voice particularly during vocal games in live concerts. Her singing style is largely based on improvisation and natural expression, letting her voice perform long vocal acrobatics while performing. Classical composer John Tavener has praised Björk as being “more intelligent than most opera singers”, music critic Alex Ross has cited Björk as one of the most gifted voices nowadays. The National Public Radio counted Björk among its list of “50 Great Voices” and MTV included her on its countdown “22 Greatest Voices in Music”.

Currently, Björk trains her voice with vocal coach Maureen Scott from the British Voice Association.

[edit] Björk in film

Björk at the 2001 Academy Awards, wearing her swan dress

Björk’s intermittent acting career began in 1986, when she appeared in The Juniper Tree, a tale of witchcraft based on the Brothers Grimm story of the same name. Björk played the role of Margit, a girl whose mother has been killed for practicing witchcraft. Björk also had an uncredited role in 1994′s Prêt-à-Porter.

In 1999, Björk was asked to write and produce the musical score for the film Dancer in the Dark, a musical drama about an immigrant named Selma who is struggling to pay for an operation to prevent her son from going blind. Director Lars von Trier eventually asked her to consider playing the role of Selma, convincing her that the only true way to capture the character of Selma was to have the composer of the music play the character.[51] Eventually, she accepted. Filming began in early 1999, and the film debuted in 2000 at the 53rd Cannes Film Festival. The film received the Palme d’Or, and Björk received the Best Actress Award for her role.[5] It was reported that the shoot was so physically and emotionally tiring that she vowed never to act again. Björk later stated that she always wanted to do one musical in her life, and this was the one.[52]

The soundtrack Björk created for the film was released with the title Selmasongs. The album features a duet with Thom Yorke of Radiohead titled “I’ve Seen It All“, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song and was performed at the 2001 Oscars, while Björk was wearing her celebrated[53] “swan dress,” which was recently auctioned off for charity on eBay. She was invited to record “Gollum’s Song” for the film The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers but declined the invitation, as she was then pregnant; the song was instead recorded by another Icelander, Emilíana Torrini.

Björk also appeared in the 2005 documentary Screaming Masterpiece, which delves into the Icelandic music scene. The movie features archive footage of The Sugarcubes and Tappi Tíkarrass, and an ongoing conversation with Björk herself.

Her partner Matthew Barney is a contemporary artist based in New York. Björk collaborated with him on the experimental art film Drawing Restraint 9, a dialogueless exploration of Japanese culture. Björk and Barney both appear in the film, which was released in 2005. She is also responsible for the film’s soundtrack, her second after Selmasongs.

Director and previous collaborator Michel Gondry asked Björk to star in his film The Science of Sleep, but she declined.[54]

She collaborated with SHOWstudio and founder Nick Knight in 2010 by providing music for an Alexander McQueen tribute.

[edit] Charitable work

After the tsunami which struck Southeast Asia in late 2004, Björk began work on a new project entitled Army of Mixes to help raise money for a relief fund. This project recruited fans and musicians from around the world to either cover or remix the 1995 track, “Army of Me”. From over 600 responses Björk and her co-writer Graham Massey picked the best twenty to appear on the album. The album was released in April in the UK and in late May 2005 in the US. By January 2006, the album had raised around £250,000 to help UNICEF‘s work in the south east Asian region.[55] Björk visited Banda Aceh in February 2006 to view some of UNICEF‘s work with the children who were affected by the tsunami.[56]

On 2 July 2005 Björk took part in the historic Live 8 series of concerts, headlining the Japan show with Do As Infinity, Good Charlotte and McFly. She performed eight songs with Matmos, a Japanese string octet and Zeena Parkins.[57]

Björk has also taken an interest in environmental issues in her native country. In 2004 Björk took part in the “Hætta” concert in Reykjavík, organised in protest against the building of Alcoa aluminium smelters in the country, which would make Iceland the biggest smelter in Europe. She founded the organization “Náttúra” which aims to promote Icelandic nature and grassroots industries. On October 28, 2008, Björk wrote an article for The Times discussing the state of the Icelandic economy, and her thoughts on the proposed use of natural resources to get the country out of debt. Björk, in collaboration with Audur Capital, set up a venture capital fund titled “BJÖRK” to support the creation of sustainable industries in Iceland. She has written the foreword to the English translation of the Iceland bestseller by Andri Snaer Magnason entitled “Dreamland.” On May 21, 2010, Björk wrote an open letter in the newspaper Reykjavík Grapevine, calling on the Icelandic government to “do everything in its power to revoke the contracts with Magma Energy“, the Canadian company who now has complete ownership of Icelandic geothermal company HS Orka.[58]

[edit] Protégés

Over her extensive career, Björk has frequently used her position and influence to help launch new acts, or mentor them as they establish themselves as recording artists.

The first example of this was most evident with Iranian born electronica producer, Leila Arab. Leila was initially recruited to play keyboards and provide backing vocals on Björk’s first international solo tour in 1993 in support of Björk’s Debut album. In 1995, Björk recalled Leila’s to be part of her second touring band for her next tour in support of the Post album. This time Leila was given the opportunity to experiment with the live output mixing from the stage, rather than playing keyboards. This was to be Leila’s first encounter with live mixing, and would later form the basis of her own solo music career where she has integrated live mixing into her own compositions and live shows. Leila has gone on to release three international solo albums throughout the 1990s to present, on the influential electronica labels, Rephlex Records, XL Recordings and Warp Records.[59]

In 1998, Björk established her own short-lived record label, Ear Records, which operated under the One Little Indian Records umbrella. Her only signee that received a release was her long-time friend, Magga Stína. Magga Stína recorded her debut solo album under the production of Björk’s longtime collaborator, Graham Massey (of the British electronica act 808 State.) The album was simply titled ‘An Album’ and featured just one single release, ‘Naturally’. In 1998, Björk invited Magga Stína to perform as her support act on the Homogenic world tour, and in 2004 Stína contributed to the production of Björk’s Medúlla album. Stína is presently still performing and recording in Iceland.

In 2001, Björk heard of a Canadian Inuit Throat Singer called Tagaq and invited her to perform on several dates of Björk’s Vespertine world tour as a special guest. In 2004, Tagaq was invited to collaborate on the a cappella album Medúlla, in which the duet ‘Ancestors’ was recorded. ‘Ancestors’ was later featured on Tagaq’s first solo album, Sinaa in 2005.

In 2004, Leila discovered the work of Finnish multimedia artist Heidi Kilpeläinen, who had taken her combination of Lo-fi, homemade electro pop with her own self-produced music videos, and combined them under the alter ego character, HK119. Leila soon referred HK119‘s work to Björk, who quickly and excitedly started mentioning HK119 in various press and interviews. In 2004, Björk announced HK119 as her favourite act of 2004, and cited her as “The Perfect Blonde Woman”.[60] HK119 was soon signed to Björk’s parent label One Little Indian Records, who released her debut HK119 album in 2006. HK119 and Björk appeared in a joint interview in Dazed & Confused magazine in 2006, where Björk stated about HK119′s work “It’s unique. Even if I gave you $3million, you couldn’t improve on it… Their simplicity is their strength.”[61] HK119 later released her second album, Fast, Cheap And Out Of Control in 2008 on One Little Indian Records, and is currently recording her third album.

In 2009, Björk used her website and various radio interviews throughout the year to express her enthusiasm for two more new acts. The first was fellow Icelandic musician, Ólöf Arnalds, who is also a member of Icelandic folktronica band múm. In 2006, Arnalds released her debut solo album Við Og Við in Iceland, which Björk citied as one of her favourite recent new acts of the last few years during a radio interview, and encouraged One Little Indian Records to reissue the album in the UK and Europe in 2009. On the same radio show for the American NPR channel, Björk also praised the works of emerging British artist Micachu and the more obscure, Omar Souleyman. Björk later used her official website to host the premier of Micachu‘s debut video on the Rough Trade Records, ‘Turn Me Well’.[62]

[edit] Personal life

[edit] Family

Björk’s father, Guðmundur Gunnarsson, is a well-known union leader in Iceland and was nationally recognized before his daughter became famous. Her mother, Hildur Rúna Hauksdóttir, has also been politically active.

Björk and her partner, artist Matthew Barney, have a daughter, Ísadóra Bjarkardóttir Barney, born 3 October 2002. Björk also has a son, Sindri Eldon Thórsson, born 8 June 1986, with Thór Eldon, who was her band mate in The Sugarcubes. Sindri is a journalist and has his own solo project simply called “Sindri Eldon”.

[edit] Paparazzi and controversies

Björk has complained of being hounded by paparazzi. In 1996, Björk arrived at Bangkok International Airport with her son Sindri after a long haul flight when Julie Kaufman, a female reporter, greeted Björk with “Welcome to Bangkok”, which was then followed by Björk attacking her and knocking her to the ground. Björk has said that the reason for the attack was that the reporters in the airport started talking to her son, saying such things as “It must be hard to be the son of a pop star.” Björk’s record company also said that the reporter had been pestering Björk for four days. Björk later apologized to Kaufman, who declined to involve the police. On 13 January 2008, Björk attacked a photographer who had photographed her arrival at Auckland International Airport in New Zealand for her scheduled performance at the Big Day Out festival.[63] Björk allegedly tore the photographer’s shirt down the back, and in the process she fell to the ground.[64] Neither the photographer nor his employer, The New Zealand Herald, lodged a formal complaint, and Auckland police did not investigate further.[65]

[edit] Political views

Björk’s years in KUKL aligned her with the left-wing, specifically anarchist, Crass Collective.[66] While she has since been hesitant to be seen as an overtly political figure, and has said so on her website,[67] she is strongly supportive of numerous liberation movements across the globe, including support for independence for Kosovo.[68]

She dedicated her song “Declare Independence” to Greenland and the Faroe Islands, which caused a minor controversy in the Faroes. When Björk twice dedicated “Declare Independence” to the people of Kosovo during a concert in Japan,[69] a planned performance of hers was cancelled at Serbia‘s Exit Festival, reportedly due to safety concerns.

In 2008, Björk set off an international controversy after she dedicated “Declare Independence” to the Tibet freedom movement during a Shanghai concert, chanting “Tibet! Tibet!” during the song. China’s Culture Ministry issued a denunciation through state news agency Xinhua stating that Björk “broke Chinese law” and “hurt Chinese people’s feelings”, and pledged to further tighten control over foreign artists performing in China. A later statement accused Björk of “whipping up ethnic hatred”.[70]

[edit] Sexuality

In an interview with Diva magazine in October 2004, she said:

I think everyone’s bisexual to some degree or another; it’s just a question of whether or not you choose to recognize it and embrace it. Personally, I think choosing between men and women is like choosing between cake and ice cream. You’d be daft not to try both when there are so many different flavors.[71]

Björk has accumulated a large homosexual fanbase over the years; in an interview with Instinct magazine in 2004, she acknowledged it, saying:

I like to think of people who buy my records as equals. Don’t think of them as gay or black or young or old. They’re just people who enjoy my music. I’ve had so many close gay friends all my life, it’s not that big of a deal with me. But I’d be lying if I said there weren’t things I find easier to talk about with gay guys.[72]

[edit] Stalker

On 12 September 1996, obsessed fan Ricardo López mailed an acid-spraying letter bomb to Björk’s London home and then killed himself, but the package was intercepted by the Metropolitan Police Service.[73] López filmed himself in the process of making the acid bomb which was intended to severely scar the singer’s face and torso. The nearly 18 hours of videotape described López’s obsession with Björk, the construction of the device, his thoughts on love and other subjects, including racial remarks against Björk’s then-boyfriend Goldie. The video footage continues after his mailing the bomb to Björk’s London home and ends as López shaves his head, applies face paint and commits suicide by shooting himself on camera.[74]

In her few public comments on this event, Bjork later said it was hard emotionally, and it disrupted her life and work in London, explaining in part why she chose to leave the UK scene for good, reject her cute image, and began to write more personally with Homogenic (1997).

[edit] Discography

[edit] Awards and nominations

[edit] Filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1987 The Juniper Tree Margit
2000 Dancer in the Dark Selma Ježková Also composer of the Soundtrack Selmasongs

2005 Drawing Restraint 9 Occidental Guest Also Composer of the Soundtrack Drawing Restraint 9
2007 Anna and the Moods Anna Young
(voice)

[edit] Cameos and Soundtrack Appearances

Year Title Notes
1982 Rokk í Reykjavík Cameo with the Tappi Tíkarrass
1983 Nýtt Líf Features music of the Tappi Tíkarrass
1994 Prêt-à-Porter Cameo as a Model (Uncredited)
2005 Screaming Masterpiece
2005 Arakimentari Documentary on Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki
2006 Matthew Barney: No Restraint Documentary on the making of Drawing Restraint 9
2010 Moomins and the Comet Chase Features the original song The Comet Song

[edit] Bibliography

  • 1984 – Um Úrnat frá Björk (free distribution)
  • 1995 – Post
  • 2001 – Björk (Little-i)
  • 2003 – Björk Live Book

[edit] Related bibliography

  • Post, by Sjón Sigurðsson/Björk Ltd. Bloomsbury (1995).
  • Björk – The Illustrated Story, by Paul Lester. Hamlyn (1996).
  • Björk – An Illustrated Biography, by Mick St. Michael. Omnibus Press (1996).
  • Björk Björkgraphy, by Martin Aston. Simon & Schuster (1996).
  • Björk, Colección Imágenes de Rock, N°82, by Jordi Bianciotto. Editorial La Máscara (1997).
  • Dancer in the Dark, by Lars von Trier. Film Four (2000).
  • Lobster or Fame, by Ólafur Jóhann Engilbertsson. Bad Taste (2000).
  • Army of She, by Evelyn McDonnell. Random House (2001).
  • Human Behaviour, by Ian Gittins. Carlton (2002).
  • Björk: There’s More to Life Than This: The Stories Behind Every Song, by Ian Gittins. Imprint (2002).
  • Wow and Flutter, by Mark Pytlik. ECW (2003).
  • Björk, by Nicola Dibben. Equinox (2009).

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Down time: Bjork The Sunday Times, Robert Sandall, 23 March 2008
  2. ^ Inside Björk DVD documentary (2003). Documentary spanning Björk’s musical career.
  3. ^ The Best Music of the Decade – Metacritic. Features.metacritic.com. Retrieved 2011-02-28.
  4. ^ “Björk”. Swedish Royal Academy of Music. http://www.polarmusicprize.org. Retrieved 2011-01-04. 
  5. ^ a b “Festival de Cannes: Dancer in the Dark”. festival-cannes.com. http://www.festival-cannes.com/en/archives/ficheFilm/id/5140/year/2000.html. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  6. ^ The Greatest | Show Cast, Episodes, Guides, Trailers, Web Exclusives, Previews. VH1.com. Retrieved 2011-02-28.
  7. ^ MTV’s 22 Greatest Voices in Music. Listology. Retrieved 2011-02-28.
  8. ^ “Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Singers”. Rolling Stone.
  9. ^ “Selective justice at Kárahnúkar says Björk’s father”. Iceland Review. 2005-03-08. http://www.icelandreview.com/icelandreview/daily_news/?cat_id=28304&ew_0_a_id=147579. Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  10. ^ “Michel Gondry”. Filmbug. Archived from the original on 2012-03-15. http://www.webcitation.org/66AWLmMKk. Retrieved 2012-03-15. 
  11. ^ a b c “RIAA Searchable Database”. RIAA. http://www.riaa.com/goldandplatinumdata.php?table=SEARCH. Retrieved 23 December 2011. Note: reader must define search parameter as “Bjork”.
  12. ^ The Brit Awards. everyHit.com. Retrieved 2011-02-28.
  13. ^ “SPIN Magazine’s Top 90 albums of the 90′s”. Spin. http://rateyourmusic.com/list/unj/spin_magazines_top_90_albums_of_the_90s. Retrieved 23 December 2011. 
  14. ^ “125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years”. Spin. 30 November 2010. http://www.spin.com/spin25/125-best-albums-past-25-years#page=6. Retrieved 23 December 2011. 
  15. ^ “Staff Lists: Top 100 Albums of the 1990s”. Pitchfork Media. 17 November 2003. http://pitchfork.com/features/staff-lists/5923-top-100-albums-of-the-1990s/8/. Retrieved 23 December 2011. 
  16. ^ “Staff Lists: Top 100 Albums of the 1990s”. Pitchfork Media. 17 November 2003. http://pitchfork.com/features/staff-lists/5923-top-100-albums-of-the-1990s/9/. Retrieved 23 December 2011. 
  17. ^ “500 Greatest Albums: Post – Bjork”. Rolling Stone. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/500-greatest-albums-of-all-time-19691231/post-bj-246-rk-19691231. Retrieved 23 December 2011. 
  18. ^ Radiohead Testcast: Entanglement (pt 2 – Bjork’s Unravel). YouTube (2007-11-08). Retrieved 2011-02-28.
  19. ^ Björk : book, A project by Björk Official Bjork website. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
  20. ^ “Bjork Gets Orchestric: Bjork”. Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 28 February 2011. http://web.archive.org/web/20080106221048/http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/bjork/articles/story/5933169/bjork_gets_orchestric. Retrieved 6 August 2001. 
  21. ^ Q Magazine, February 2002, Q Concert Review, “Björk – Haskolaboi, Reykjavik”, by Nick Duerden.
  22. ^ NSFW! – It’s The 18 Most Explicit Music Videos Ever. Nme.Com. Retrieved 2011-02-28.
  23. ^ “Bjork Voices “Medulla”". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 28 February 2011. http://web.archive.org/web/20071203011319/http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/bjork/articles/story/6184996/bjork_voices_medulla. Retrieved 15 June 2004. 
  24. ^ Bjork news 2006 Official Bjork website. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
  25. ^ björk.com/news Bjork news 2006 Official Bjork website. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
  26. ^ “Q Awards Play Safe”. BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/6music/news/20051010_Q.shtml. Retrieved 23 December 2011. 
  27. ^ Bjork news 2006 Bjork official website. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
  28. ^ Björk releases brand new single ‘Declare Independence’ on New Year’s Eve Side-Line Music Magazine. 17 Dec 2007. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
  29. ^ björk.com/news 2011. Bjork.com. Retrieved 2011-02-28.
  30. ^ Thom Yorke Magazine – News, Reviews, Albums and Videos. Idiomag.com. Retrieved 2011-02-28.
  31. ^ News Björk Uses Tenori-on. Sonic State. Retrieved 2011-02-28.
  32. ^ Phillips, Amy (23 Oct.). “Bjork [part two"]. Pitchfork. http://pitchfork.com/features/interviews/7404-bjork-part-two/ 
  33. ^ Bjork news 2009 Official Bjork website. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
  34. ^ Copsey, Robert (17 May 2010). “Björk wins prestigious Polar Music Prize”. Digital Spy. Retrieved 2011-02-28.
  35. ^ “Björk and Dirty Projectors announce collaboration EP tracklisting and release details”. Nme.Com. http://www.nme.com/news/bjork/51636. Retrieved 2011-01-09. 
  36. ^ “Ólöf Arnalds – Innundir skinni”. Onelittleindian-us.com. http://www.onelittleindian-us.com/new/2010/geary21oa/. Retrieved 2011-01-09. 
  37. ^ “Antony and the Johnsons news”. Antonyandthejohnsons.com. http://www.antonyandthejohnsons.com/news/news.html. Retrieved 2011-01-09. 
  38. ^ Jónas Sen
  39. ^ “Átta Raddir – Islande – Ruv”. Bjork.fr. http://www.bjork.fr/Atta-Raddir-Islande-Ruv. Retrieved 2011-07-24. 
  40. ^ The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service
  41. ^ Michaels, Sean (18 March 2010), “Björk and director Michel Gondry to create ‘scientific’ film”. The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-02-28.
  42. ^ “Björk Talks About Icelandic Energy Controversy”. Pitchfork. http://pitchfork.com/news/40844-bjork-talks-about-icelandic-energy-controversy/. Retrieved 2011-01-09. 
  43. ^ “Björk Collaborates With Omar Souleyman”. Pitchfork. http://pitchfork.com/news/41616-bjork-collaborates-with-omar-souleyman/. 
  44. ^ http://www.dazeddigital.com/music/article/10006/1/björk-unveils-live-residency
  45. ^ “Bjork is to headline Sunday night at Bestival 2011″, BBC Radio 1, 1 July 2011
  46. ^ “Special Björk Biophilia Performance at Iceland Airwaves”. Midi.is. http://midi.is/concerts/15/79/. Retrieved 2011-07-22. 
  47. ^ Terr (26 June 2011). “Listen to Björk’s new song Crystalline”. Up Venue. Retrieved 2011-10-19.
  48. ^ “Stereogum Q&A: Björk Talks Biophilia. Stereogum. 29 June 2011. http://stereogum.com/744502/stereogum-qa-bjork-talks-biophilia/top-stories/lead-story/. Retrieved 2011-10-19. 
  49. ^ Empire, Kitty (2 July 2011). “Björk: Biophilia – review”. The Observer (London). http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/jul/03/bjork-biophilia-manchester-festival-review. Retrieved 2011-10-19. 
  50. ^ “GCSE Bitesize Western Voice Classification”. BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/music/western_tradition/music_voices1.shtml. Retrieved 9 December 2011. 
  51. ^ Why she decided to act, bjork.com
  52. ^ Why she won’t make another movie, bjork.com
  53. ^ Khan, Urmee (2008-10-09). “Liz Hurley ‘safety pin’ dress voted the greatest dress”. The Daily Telegraph (London). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/celebritynews/3167702/Liz-Hurley-safety-pin-dress-voted-the-greatest-dress.html. 
  54. ^ Björk Plays the Recluse The Guardian. 11 February 2007
  55. ^ björk.com/news 2006
  56. ^ Björk visits UNICEF’s work in Banda Aceh photo gallery, 2008
  57. ^ björk.com/news 2005
  58. ^ grapevine.is (2010). “Björk On Magma Energy”. http://grapevine.is/Features/ReadArticle/Letter-From-Bjork-About-Magma-Energy. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 
  59. ^ words in edgeways with leila arab « wears the trousers magazine :: a women in music compendium. Wearsthetrousers.com (2009-09-10). Retrieved 2011-02-28.
  60. ^ interrupting yr broadcast: hk119 « wears the trousers magazine :: a women in music compendium. Wearsthetrousers.com (2008-10-15). Retrieved 2011-02-28.
  61. ^ HK119 & Björk Interview, Dazed & Confused
  62. ^ björk.com/news 2011. Bjork.com. Retrieved 2011-02-28.
  63. ^ “Bjork attacks photographer”. The Age (Melbourne). 14 January 2008.
  64. ^ “Bjork attacks photographer at Auckland Airport”. 3 News. 14 January 2008. http://www.3news.co.nz/Bjork-attacks-photographer-at-Auckland-Airport/tabid/423/articleID/43421/Default.aspx. Retrieved 2011-09-20. 
  65. ^ “Charges unlikely after singer attacks Herald photographer”. The New Zealand Herald. 14 January 2008. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10486789. Retrieved 2011-09-20. 
  66. ^ Vidar Ringstrøm. “Kukl”. Hanshan.org. http://www.hanshan.org/musikk/kukl.php. Retrieved 2011-01-09. 
  67. ^ “Statement”, björk.com/news 2008, 4 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-05.
  68. ^ nme.com (2008). “Bjork Serbian gig cancelled over her pro-Kosovan stance”. http://www.nme.com/news/bjork/34703. Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  69. ^ Asia-Pacific | Bjork makes ‘free Tibet’ gesture. BBC News (2008-03-04). Retrieved 2011-02-28.
  70. ^ Entertainment | Western acts ‘welcome’ in China. BBC News (2008-03-13). Retrieved 2011-02-28.
  71. ^ Summer BiMedia. Bi Community News. Retrieved 2011-02-28.
  72. ^ “Björk – On… gay fans”. Instinct (per official Björk website). 1 September 2004. Archived from the original on 2010-01-01. http://web.archive.org/web/20100101052308/http://bjork.com/facts/about/right.php?id=1744. Retrieved 2009-12-18. 
  73. ^ J. Reid Meloy; Lorraine Sheridan, Jens Hoffmann (2008). Stalking, Threatening, and Attacking Public Figures. Oxford University Press US. pp. 97–101. ISBN 0195326385. http://books.google.com/?id=2ODOTxgmJgEC. Retrieved 2009-05-24. 
  74. ^ Björk 1 May 2001

[edit] External links

Persondata
Name Guðmundsdóttir, Björk
Alternative names
Short description Icelandic musician
Date of birth 21 November 1965
Place of birth Reykjavík, Iceland
Date of death
Place of death

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bj%C3%B6rk

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