Björk, queen of quirk, has released a new album called Vulnicura and some real talk about her years in an industry that doesn't favor women outside of a bikini.
In an interview with Pitchfork's Jessica Hopper, the Icelandic artist who produces most of her own music dug into how being recognized for that in itself is a battle. Here are some Björk excerpts:
"I have nothing against Kanye West. Help me with this—I'm not dissing him—this is about how people talk about him. With the last album he did, he got all the best beatmakers on the planet at the time to make beats for him. A lot of the time, he wasn't even there. Yet no one would question his authorship for a second. If whatever I'm saying to you now helps women, I'm up for saying it. For example, I did 80% of the beats on 'Vespertine' and it took me three years to work on that album, because it was all microbeats—it was like doing a huge embroidery piece. Matmos came in the last two weeks and added percussion on top of the songs, but they didn't do any of the main parts, and they are credited everywhere as having done the whole album. [Matmos'] Drew [Daniel] is a close friend of mine, and in every single interview he did, he corrected it. And they don't even listen to him. It really is strange."
She also talked about how being a smart woman in the music industry isn't a mind trick, it is a mind fuck:
"I have to say—I got a feeling I am going to win in the long run, but I want to be part of the zeitgeist, too. I want to support young girls who are in their 20s now and tell them: You're not just imagining things. It's tough. Everything that a guy says once, you have to say five times. Girls now are also faced with different problems. I've been guilty of one thing: After being the only girl in bands for 10 years, I learned—the hard way—that if I was going to get my ideas through, I was going to have to pretend that they—men—had the ideas. I became really good at this and I don't even notice it myself. I don't really have an ego. I'm not that bothered. I just want the whole thing to be good. And I'm not saying one bad thing about the guys who were with me in the bands, because they're all amazing and creative, and they're doing incredible things now. But I come from a generation where that was the only way to get things done. So I have to play stupid and just do everything with five times the amount of energy, and then it will come through."
On women doing so much to keep The World running but our efforts often go largely unnoticed:
That's why I was nervous. I've never done an album like this. With Biophilia, I was being like Kofi Annan—I had to be the pacifist to try to unite the impossible. Maybe that was a strange, personal job between me and myself, to show how overreaching I was being as a woman. The only way I could express that was by comparing it to the universe. If you can make nature and technology friends, then you can make everyone friends; you can make everyone intact. That's what women do a lot—they're the glue between a lot of things. Not only artists, but whatever job they do: in the office, or homemakers. Biophilia was like my own personal slapstick joke, showing I had to reach so long—between solar systems—to connect everything. It's like the end scene in Mary Poppins, when she's made everyone friends, and the father realizes that kids are more important than money—and [then] she has to leave. [chokes up] It's a strange moment. Women are the glue. It's invisible, what women do. It's not rewarded as much.
As for American singers, you know who I've loved almost since my childhood? Chaka Khan. I love Chaka Khan. I've totally fallen in love with a remix album of hers from the '80s. I don't know if it's a guilty pleasure. It's just pleasure. Obviously, I really love Joni Mitchell. I think it was that accidental thing in Iceland, where the wrong albums arrive to shore, because I was obsessed with Don Juan's Reckless Daughter and Hejira as a teenager. I hear much more of her in those albums. She almost made her own type of music style with those, it's more a woman's world.
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