24 November

Bjork’s new album: and what if we took stock of the Icelandic star?

 

 

The eccentric fairy-pixie-genius-artist, always avant-garde and always witty, celebrates her 52nd birthday this year along with the release of a new album that’s as out there as it is bewitching, Utopia. The ideal moment to look back at a character in perfect harmony with the sweet madness of her music, and who’s headlining the We Love Green festival in Paris on June 3rd 2018…

By Violaine Schütz

  • She’s feeling much better

     

    Bjork’s last record Vulnicura was a dark album reflecting her fragile state recorded in the wake of her split from the father of her daughter, cult artist Matthew Barney – who left her for trendy painter Elisabeth Peyton. But don’t worry about this volcano of energy, the singer seems to be back on form as she recently told the New York Times: “If optimism ever was like an emergency, it’s now. This album is supposed to be like an idea, a suggestion, a proposal of the world we could live in”. She’s calling Utopia, a much more peaceful album than usual, “a love letter” and her single “Blissing Me” (sung over harps about “two nerds obsessed with music, swapping songs and falling in love”) reveal her to be the Minnie Riperton 2.0. One of the apostles involved with this smooth sounds? None other than Venezuelan electro prodigy Arca with whom she has written 14 tunes between New York and Reykjavik. The two mischief makers even treated themselves to the luxury of an ensemble of 13 flutes (you might change your mind about this instrument) which we hear on “The Gate”. A door to the fourth dimension? Or maybe the cosmos…

     

     

     

    She’s calling Utopia, a much more peaceful album than usual, “a love letter”

She never stops experimenting visually

 

In terms of fashion and beauty, Bjork has tried everything, for better or for worse (or for laughs as her detractors might say). With every record comes a precise look and hairstyle and a slew of videos hankered after by adventurous photographers who enthusiastically add to her creative dementia. The musician, a fan from the beginning of Martin Margiela, Walter Van Beirendonck and Alexander McQueen, also wears young designers (such as Marjan Pejoski) who she thrust into the spotlight like a protective fairy godmother to fashion freaks. Slightly verging on cosplay, she has undergone a new transformation for Utopia. She wears a sumptuous Gucci dress in the video for “The Gate” that took 550 hours to complete, and on the front cover of the album the artist and embroiderer James Merry accompanied by Berlin drag queen and make-up artist Isshe Hungry have muted her with a silicon flower dotted with pearls. An organic, animal or bionic creature? Bjork seems once again to have escaped the human race.

 

 

Slightly verging on cosplay, she has undergone a new transformation for Utopia.

 

The punk phase

 

 

 

Before joining the Sugarcubes, as a teenager she was a member of the punk formation Tappi Tíkarrass from 1981 to 1983, where she added overtones of funk and jazz to their “no future” sound. Bjork’s incredible stage dynamics during her concerts seem to echo her behaviour in real life. She stole a children’s paddling pool and put a bird in her mouth to eat during that time, among a litany of other silly and anti-establishment acts. In 1984 she released a rather odd book of DIY poems that she illustrated herself. The young woman was also part of a goth-anarch-punk group called Kukl, meaning “witchcraft” in medieval Icelandic. The tattoo that adorns her right arm (a sort of compass) like a Viking symbol comes from a 16th century book of Icelandic magic. It’s supposed to prevent madness and suffering and stop women from becoming witches. It hasn’t however stopped the singer from becoming a professional enchantress.

 

 

Bjork’s incredible stage dynamics during her concerts seem to echo her behaviour in real life.

Taboo-free sexuality

 

Her bedside reading has long been the violently erotic Story of the Eye by George Bataille and she often talks about sexuality in her interviews, declaring herself as everything but normcore in this area (as in others). For the shoot accompanying Utopia we see her swathed in blue fringes, pink silk fins and a futuristic strap-on. After the vulva which stole the show in her artwork for Vulnicura, could this be a message directed at Lars Von Trier who she recently accused of sexual harassment on the set of Dancer In the Dark? Or a tribute to the singer Peaches and her provocations directed at the patriarchy? She who wears the trousers in the music business has nicknamed Utopia her “tinder album” and thinks that everyone on Earth is bisexual. One day she said, “I think choosing between men and women is like having to choose between cake or ice-cream. You’d be crazy not to try both when there’s so many different flavours available.” Bon Appetit.

 

 

 

Bjork has nicknamed Utopia her “tinder album” and thinks that everyone on Earth is bisexual.

 

She refused an island from the Icelandic government

 

 

The singer has done a great deal to put her country on the world map of music. Well aware of her participation in helping Iceland to shine abroad, the government wanted to offer her an island. Called Elliðaey and nicknamed “Bjork Island” it was graciously offered to her in 2000. Tempted to build a house on this piece of uninhabited land, the artist finally decided to refuse the offer in spite of her fierce will to maintain maximum privacy and freedom.

 

 

Bjork recorded her first record aged 11. 

 

 

She was a child star

 

Justin Bieber can go pull his hoodie up. While he was singing his first track publicly at the age of 12, Bjork has already recorded her first record aged 11. After having taken classical piano lessons and sung on Icelandic radio, an eponymous album of covers (The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Tina Charles) as well as tracks she’d composed herself was well received by the general public.

Her influences are as original as her

 

 

For a young woman of her age, Bjork’s influences are far from banal. She often cites Stockhausen, Kraftwerk, Brian Eno, Mark Bell and Sir David Attenborough as her great musical heroes. And she still shares tips with the Aphex Twins who also advise her on material. And yet her songs remain utterly unique, untouched by any resemblance to anything on our planet. When you spend your life as a sonorous trailblazer, you have to know how to combine substance with form. With this in mind Bjork has decided that from its release on November 24th Utopia will be purchasable using crypto-currencies like the Bitcoin, Audiocoin, Litecoin and Dashcoin. 

She has simple dreams

 

With her outfits, videos and songs all eccentric to the extreme – we’re always wondering how she’ll outdo that swan dress – Bjork’s needs and desires are simple. She recently told the magazine Dazed and Confused, “Being in love, in the countryside, in the middle of nowhere, with a lake and the sky. That’s all. You don’t need anything more than that.” Living off love, fresh air and shimmering sun-hued bird of paradise dresses…

 

Björk – Utopia (One Little Indian/Believe)

Unique concert in France at WE LOVE GREEN
Sunday June 3rd the Bois de Vincennes, Paris 12th

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