47-year-old Björk Guðmundsdóttir, born and bred in Reykjavík. By her own Facebook admission, classified as alternative rock, electronica, trip-hop, jazz and baroque pop. Recording artist renowned for dreamy soundscapes, occasional sharp edges, outlandishly beautiful stage garb and a powerful set of pipes.
Arguably Iceland’s most famous mononym, Björk has ascended to living national treasure from somewhat rebellious beginnings as an alternative rocking member of The Sugarcubes and anarcho-punk specialists KUKL. Nominated for 13 Grammy awards, the singer-songwriter and muso has garnered four BRIT Awards, four MTV Music Video Awards as well as the Royal Swedish Academy of Music’s 2010 Polar Music Prize – as “No other artist moves so freely between avant-garde and pop.”
Why She’s a Wonder Woman
The ultimate slashie, the Icelandic superstar bagged the Best Actress accolade at Cannes for her work on Lars von Trier’s 2000 film, Dancer in the Dark and an Academy Award nomination for her musical contribution (I’ve Seen It All). Ms Guðmundsdóttir also lends her support when needed, getting behind tsunami relief with the collaborative 2004 recording Army of Me: Remixes and Covers’ as well as environmental causes in her native land. Perhaps the fans say it best though: “björk makes me laugh, cry, get angry & dance like an idiot! i love this extraordinary woman ![sic]”
Least Likely To Say…
“To be honest, I don’t really know what I’m doing.” Something the eclectic songstress has shared with us are her thoughts on solitude, namely, “I never really understood the word ‘loneliness’. As far as I was concerned, I was in an orgy with the sky and the ocean, and with nature.” Similarly disseminated via her Facebook account is the notion, “Every time I start an album, I’m in a place I’ve never been.” Considering her penchant for the abstract, intensely personal lyrics and nonsensical videos, audiences would be hard-pressed for a better guide to the world of Björk.
Who’d Play Her In ‘Iceland: The Musical’?
Actually, Björk has already played herself; Ari Alexander Ergis Magnússon’s 2005 documentary, Screaming Masterpiece features candid interviews with the singer. Discussing Icelandic identity, Björk describes late 70’s British punk as a catalyst for patriotism – “…we were infected by it and we discovered that what mattered wasn’t what you could do but what you really did. And we used this power to state a musical declaration of independence.”
Let’s Go On Tour…
Calling her first solo effort for precisely what it was, Björk released Debut in 1993. She later described the experience as “very much for me like a virgin trying to express herself, i mean a virgin musically. and that’s why i named it “debut”. and people who knew i had been around for many years just thought i was taking a piss or something…but for me it was very much like the songs i had kept in darkness and locked in my little diary, only to be seen by myself. the first time they were out on there own and had to figure out how to survive their own way [sic].” Cut to 2011, which heralded the launch of Biophillia – the world’s first ‘app album’ in conjunction with Apple.
In between, the queen of quirk has been no stranger to controversy. From infamous swan dresses to alleged fisticuffs with paparazzi, nothing compares to her often conceptual but always envelope-pushing videos. The Nick Knight directed clip for 2001’s Pagan Poetry attracted a ban from stateside MTV, based on its sexual imagery and graphic body piercing sequences. On stage, Declare Independence goes hand in hand with backlash (most famously due to the songbird’s dedication to the International Tibet Independence Movement – in Shanghai).
When It’s Oh So Quiet
…you probably won’t find Björk out on the town. She’ll be mentoring emerging musical artists, reading, spending time with her kids, absorbing heavy metal by osmosis or sporadically answering fan questions.