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Björk (2013)
Björk's logo

Björk Guðmundsdóttir  [ ˈpjœr̥k ˈkvʏðmʏntsˌtoʊhtɪr ] (born November 21, 1965 in Reykjavík ) is an Icelandic singer , record producer , composer , songwriter and actress with a broad interest in different types of music, including pop music , electronic music , trip-hop , alternative rock , Jazz , folk music and classical musicPlease click to listen!Play . So far she has sold over 20 million albums worldwide.

Childhood and youth

Björk's signature (1997)

Björk was born on November 21, 1965 to Hildur Rúna Hauksdóttir and Guðmundur Gunnarsson. From 1970 she attended the music school Barnamúsíkskóli Reykjavíkur , where she a. a. was taught singing , piano and flute .

Early career

At the age of eleven, Björk learned to play the piano at elementary school . One of the teachers sent a recording of Tina Charles's song "I Love To Love" to the Icelandic radio station "Radio One". While the recording was being broadcast across Iceland, an employee of the Icelandic record publisher Fálkinn became aware of Björk and offered her a contract. With the help of her stepfather, who played guitar , she recorded her first album in 1977, which is simply called Björk . It contained various Icelandic nursery rhymes and covers of popular titles such as B. "Fool on the Hill" by the Beatles (in Icelandic "Álfur Út Úr Hól"). The album became a huge hit in Iceland but went unnoticed outside the island.

Björk soon became interested in punk music. When she was 14, she founded a girls' punk group “ Spit and Snot ”, which was followed in 1979 by the fusion jazz group “Exodus”. In 1980 she left the music school and founded the group Tappi Tíkarrass in 1981 together with Jakob Magnússon, the bassist of "Exodus" . In the same year they released the single Bitið almost í vitið , two years later the first album, Miranda .

Then she worked with the musicians Einar Örn Benediktsson and Einar Melax from the music group Purrkur Pillnikk and Guðlaugur Óttarsson, Sigtryggur Baldursson and Birgir Mogensen from Þeyr. After writing and practicing songs, they called themselves KUKL , which means “ witchcraft ” in Icelandic . They quickly found their own sound, which one could best compare with Gothic . Björk began to develop her unmistakable singing style at KUKL.

KUKL toured Iceland with the English anarcho-punk group Crass , later visiting England and in 1984 or 1985 West Berlin , where they performed in front of 20 spectators in a venue called NOX and later in an occupied house . Max Goldt describes these appearances in detail in one of his books. KUKL also performed with the band Flux of Pink Indians . This collaboration resulted in the two albums The Eye (1984) and Holidays in Europe (1986, both on Crass Records ). This is how they met Derek Birkett (bassist with Flux) and Tim Kelly (guitar), who founded the One Little Indian Records label in 1985 . In the summer of 1986 Björk and some members of KUKL formed a new group called Pukl, which was soon renamed The Sugarcubes .


The Sugarcubes' first single, "Ammæli" ("Birthday"), was an instant hit in England , and the group quickly achieved cult status in the US and England . Soon after, calls from record companies followed. The group signed to One Little Indian in England and Elektra Records in the United States, and recorded their first album, Life's Too Good , in 1988 . The album brought the Sugarcubes international fame within a short period of time. This made them the first Icelandic band to become popular worldwide. While at Sugarcubes, Björk worked on various other projects. On the album Gling-Gló , which was released in Iceland, she and the bebop group Tríó Guðmundar Ingólfssonar recorded a collection of popular jazz pieces in Icelandic, e . B. Ó Pabbi Minn (O my papa) or Ég veit ei hvað Skal segja. In 1991 she sang a song on the Iceland album by Current 93 and Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson alias HÖH . She also provided the vocals for the album Ex: El by 808 State . With this collaboration, her interest in house music grew .

When tensions built up between Björk and Einar Örn in 1992, they decided to go their separate ways. Björk moved to London and considered a solo career. She started working with Nellee Hooper , who had albums for music groups such as B. produced Massive Attack . Together with him she produced her first international solo success “Human Behavior”, which was followed in June 1993 by her solo album debut, which was simply called “ Debut ” and was very well received by the critics. Named "Album of the Year" by the New Musical Express , it achieved platinum status in the United States . It contains songs that Björk wrote as a teenager, as well as songs that were composed with Hooper.

Björk 2003 at the Hurricane Festival

The success of Debut prompted Björk to work more closely with other artists, e.g. B. with David Arnold on the track "Play Dead", which was used as theme music in the film The Young Americans . In 1994 she returned to the studio to work on her next album. This time helped her Nellee Hooper, Tricky , Graham Massey of 808 State and electronic music producer Howie B . The album Post contains mostly songs about love and relationships, including angry and confrontational tracks. Like the ones from Debut , some of the songs by Post were written years earlier.

Björk also wrote the song "Bedtime Story" for Madonna's album Bedtime Stories . Madonna would have liked to have material for an entire album, but Björk refused. Björk also declined their invitation on the grounds that the meeting should take place by chance and not under cramped circumstances. In 1995 the album Post was completed; it was released in June, peaked at number 2 on the UK charts and once again became platinum in the United States. In 1996 the remix album Telegram was released, which contained uncharacteristic remixes by Post . For the Telegram photos , Björk worked for the first time with her favorite photographer , the Japanese Nobuyoshi Araki . This was unusual in that Araki usually only photographs Asians. He made an exception for Björk after she wrote him a passionate letter.

In 1997 Björk finished her album Homogenic in Spain . She worked with Mark Bell from LFO , Eumir Deodato and Howie B on this. Stylistically it is a very extroverted album that reveals an emotional side of Björk. Her music also shows her strong connection to Iceland's landscape and nature. Homogenic achieved gold status in the United States in 2001 .

Björk 2007 in Paris

In 2001 the album Vespertine was released , stylistically very introverted again . Björk used here complex rhythms , Inuit - choirs , sounds of the experimental groups Matmos and Oval , by Thomas Knak from Denmark , the harpist Zeena Parkins and a chamber orchestra . The sources of inspiration were the texts of the American poet EE Cummings and the work of the independent filmmaker Harmony Korine . Three singles emerged from the album: "Hidden Place", "Pagan Poetry" and "Cocoon". Since the videos of these singles (especially that of “Pagan Poetry”) showed some controversial images (including Björk half-naked), some of them had to be censored in order to be played in the USA. The video for “Cocoon” wasn't even broadcast there. Vespertine was premiered on May 26, 2018 at the Nationaltheater Mannheim in a new arrangement for solo voices, choir and orchestra on the opera stage, directed by the Danish artist group Hotel Pro Forma.

Family Tree , a kind of “Greatest Hits Box”, was released in 2003 and contained CDs and DVDs that traced the various creative phases from the first ten years of her solo career.

In August 2004, the album Medúlla was released . According to Björk, the aim was to move from the predecessor albums, which were increasingly epic in sound, to the absolute core ("Medúlla" means the marrow of an organ, e.g. bone marrow ) of the music: the human voice. In the middle of the work on the album, Björk consequently decided that it would be best if the individual songs only consist of vocals; therefore she removed almost all of the instrumentation from the previous recordings. When she invited vocalists, among other hip-hop - Beatbox Artists Rahzel , Mike Patton ( Faith No More ) and Robert Wyatt to contribute one. Even extraordinary things like Inuit throat singing were integrated into the songs. For the lyrics she was again inspired by EE Cummings (Lied Sonnets / Unrealities XI ).

In August 2004 Björk sang the song "Oceania" from the album Medúlla during the opening ceremony of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens . As usual, the appearance was rather unconventional. As she sang, her dress unfolded into a 900 square meter cloth on which a map of the world was shown. The card was spread over all athletes. Shortly after the Olympics, the song Oceania was released as a radio single. In addition, a slightly modified version of the song was circulated on the Internet , on which Kelis' vocals can also be heard (this version of the song was later released commercially on the single "Who Is It?"). After the tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia , Björk started the “Army of Me-Xes” project in which she called on her fans and musicians to remix the 1995 hit “Army of Me”. A new album was released with the 20 best of the total of 600 submissions, in their opinion. The proceeds from the album went to UNICEF .

In 2005, "The Music from ' Drawing Restraint 9 '", a soundtrack composed by Björk for the film of the same name by her former partner Matthew Barney , was released. The album consists mainly of song miniatures, which are counteracted with vocals.

In May 2007 her sixth studio album Volta was released . At the end of 2008 she made a guest appearance on the Icelandic comedy series Dagvaktin , with Jón Gnarr in the lead role.

The studio album Biophilia was released in Germany on October 7th, 2011 (Europe-wide start was October 10th and October 11th in North America), which consisted of a multimedia package of apps , installations, live shows, workshops , specially made instruments and a film documentation and a website with 3D - animation is accompanied. The single Cosmogony and Crystalline were previously released from it. Crystalline also appeared as Remix - EP in cooperation with the Syrian Dabke musician Omar Souleyman . The EP also contains the two titles Mawal and Tesla . Biophilia followed a world tour that began in 2011 and the last concert of which took place in early September 2013 in London's Alexandra Palace . A tour also followed the studio album Vulnicura , which was released on January 21, 2015.

The Rolling Stone listed Björk as 60th of the 100 best singers and 81st of the 100 best songwriters of all time .

Björk in films

Bjork in 2000 at the Cannes Film Festival

As early as 1990 she played in the film Juniper Tree , which tells a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm . In 1994 she made a cameo in Prêt-à-Porter . In 1999 she was offered the opportunity to write the score for Dancer in the Dark . Thereupon Lars von Trier offered her the main role of Selma. Björk wanted to take part in a musical since she was a child , but for a long time refused to accept the role. In an interview , she said she was stubborn and could say no for ten years. Finally she admitted that she fell in love with Selma and felt from the bottom of her heart that Selma had to be heard. Without a solid acting education, Björk finally achieved an award-winning performance by, as she said, becoming Selma herself while filming. Lars von Trier on this: "It was not acting, it was feeling." (German: "That wasn't acting, that was empathy")

At the Cannes Film Festival 2000 she received the award for best actress, as well as at the European Film Awards ceremony in the same year. She was also nominated for a Golden Globe for best actress in a drama . The soundtrack for the film was released under the title "Selmasongs". The piece "I've Seen It All" received a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination in the category of best film song.

After the exhausting role of Selma, Björk didn't really want to appear in any film. She later took on a role for the experimental film Drawing Restraint 9 by her former partner Matthew Barney ; she also wrote the soundtrack .

On June 27, 2013, the 60-minute documentary The Nature of Music with David Attenborough was shown on British Channel 4 , in which he and Bjork talk about the history and cultural significance of music.


Björk is usually only mentioned by her first name. This is common in Iceland, where family names are the exception and patronymic the rule - Guðmundsdóttir means "Guðmundur's daughter".

She was not only artistically but also privately for some time with the British musician Tricky . This was followed by an affair with the British musician Goldie .

Björk is a mother of two. With the former guitarist of the Sugarcubes, Þór Eldon Jónsson, with whom she lived in the 1980s, she has a son (born June 8, 1986). She has a daughter (born October 3, 2002) with her former partner, the US media artist Matthew Barney . On her album Vulnicura (2015) she addressed the separation from Matthew Barney.

Björk has set up a fund together with the venture investment company Auður Capital, with which donations have been collected to save the economy of their home country.

In 2000, then Icelandic Prime Minister Davíð Oddsson suggested donating the Icelandic island of Elliðaey to Björk in order to thank her for her contribution to increasing Iceland's international reputation. However, he withdrew his proposal after local protests.

Björk represents feminist positions. She says: “In everything I do, I always try to remember that I am not lagging a single step behind the achievements of feminism. We often forget the struggles the feminists waged in the last century to achieve equality ... I stand on the shoulders of giants ... “She herself has repeatedly encountered sexist accusations by repeatedly denying her authorship of her music . The music press erroneously referred to the co-producer Arca , whom Björk had called in to work on the album Vulnicura , as the "sole producer", the sole producer of the album. In doing so, the press questioned Björk's authorship of her music - a behavior that does not occur at all with musicians like Kanye West , who works not only with Arca, but a whole range of other producers, and is therefore sexist. The wrong attribution of credits on Björk's album Vespertine was similar : Björk worked on the production of the album for three years. Matmos added some percussion in the last few weeks and were then named the sole producers of the album. Despite Matmos' denial, the actual extent of Björk's authorship and production would not have been noticed by the music press. As a direct reaction to these incidents, Antye Greie-Ripatti started and curated a visibility campaign for electronic musicians and producers.




Studio albums

year title Top ranking, total weeks, awardChart placementsChart placements
(Year, title, rankings, weeks, awards, notes)
1977 Bjork - - - - -
First published: December 18, 1977
1990 Gling-Gló - - - - -
First publication: September 1990
with Tríó Guðmundar Ingólfssonar
1993 Debut DE24 (44 weeks)
AT27 (18 weeks)

(17 weeks)CH
Double platinum
× 2
Double platinum

(79 weeks)UK

(31 weeks)US
First published: July 5, 1993
Sales: + 1,945,000
1995 post Office DE6 (21 weeks)
AT13 (16 weeks)
CH5 (13 weeks)

(46 weeks)UK

(20 weeks)US
First published: June 13, 1995
Sales: + 2,050,000
1997 Homogenic DE10 (20 weeks)
AT5 (10 weeks)

(17 weeks)CH

(17 weeks)UK

(9 weeks)US
First published: September 24, 1997
Sales: + 1,550,000
2001 Vespertine DE3 (10 weeks)
AT5 (9 weeks)

(8 weeks)CH

(4 weeks)UK
US19 (10 weeks)
First published: August 27, 2001
Sales: + 280,000
2004 Medulla DE5 (7 weeks)
AT6 (7 weeks)
CH3 (7 weeks)

(3 weeks)UK
US14 (7 weeks)
First published: August 30, 2004
Sales: + 170,000
2007 Volta DE9 (5 weeks)
AT5 (5 weeks)
CH3 (10 weeks)

(6 weeks)UK
US9 (5 weeks)
First published: May 2, 2007
2011 Biophilia DE14 (3 weeks)
AT17 (3 weeks)
CH9 (4 weeks)
UK21 (3 weeks)
US27 (2 weeks)
First published: October 7, 2011
2015 Vulnicura DE11 (4 weeks)
AT19 (4 weeks)
CH6 (9 weeks)
UK11 (7 weeks)
US20 (1 week)
First published: January 21, 2015
2017 Utopia DE26 (2 weeks)
AT23 (1 week)
CH12 (3 weeks)
UK25 (2 weeks)
US75 (1 week)
First published: November 24, 2017; Quarterly List 1/2018 ( German Record Award )

gray hatching : no chart data available for this year


Tappi Tíkarrass :

  • 1982: Bítið Fast Í Vítið
  • 1983: Miranda


  • 1984: The Eye
  • 1984: KUKL à Paris September 14, 1984 (concert recordings, only released on MC and in France )
  • 1986: Holidays in Europe (The Naughty Nought)

The Sugarcubes :

  • 1988: Life's Too Good
  • 1989: Here Today, Tomorrow, Next Week
  • 1992: Stick Around for Joy
  • 1992: It's It
  • 1998: The Great Crossover Potential (Greatest Hits)

Dirty Projectors :

  • 2011: Mount Wittenberg Orca

Death Grips :

  • 2014: Niggas on the Moon


Tours and special appearances

  • 1993 (August – December) - Debut Tour (17 concerts in North America and Europe )
  • 1994 (February – July) - Debut Tour (19 concerts in Iceland, North America, Europe, Australia and Japan)
  • 1994 (September 7th) - Björk gave her MTV Unplugged concert in London .
  • 1995 (January) - Debut Tour (11 concerts in North America and Europe)
  • 1995 (August – November) - Post Tour (36 concerts in Iceland, North America and Europe)
  • 1996 (January – October) - Post Tour (52 concerts in Iceland, North and South America , Israel , Europe, Australia, Thailand , Japan and the People's Republic of China )
  • 1997 (June 8) - Bjork played at the Tibetan Freedom Concert in New York . World premiere of the songs Hunter , Joga and All Neon Like .
  • 1997 (September) - Various small homogenic promo concerts in small clubs in Europe. Among other things, she played in the "Mandarin Lounge" in Munich .
  • 1997 (November) - Homogenic Tour (14 concerts in Europe)
  • 1998 (April – December) - Homogenic Tour (38 concerts in North and South America and Europe)
  • 1999 (January) - Björk gave her last two homogenic concerts in Reykjavík .
  • 1999 (December) - Björk played two acoustic concerts with the Brodsky Quartet at the Union Chapel in London.
  • 2001 (March 25) - Björk appeared at the 73rd Academy Awards in Los Angeles in a swan costume and presented I've seen it all, nominated for best song, from the film Dancer in the Dark (directed by Lars von Trier ).
  • 2001 (May – December) - Vespertine Tour (36 concerts in North America, Europe, Iceland and Japan)
  • 2002 (January – March) - various Vespertine promo appearances (including the Jonathan Ross Show and the Harald Schmidt Show )
  • 2002 (April 27) - Björk gave her first Greatest Hits concert (12 months before the official tour start) at the Coachella Festival .
  • 2003 (May – October) - Greatest Hits Tour (30 concerts in North America, Europe, Russia and Japan)
  • 2004 (August 13) - Björk sang the song Oceania at the opening of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens .
  • 2004 (October) - various Medúlla promo appearances; Among other things, she gave a small concert in St. Denis (France) (Tracklist: Sonnets / Unrealities XI , Show Me Forgiveness , The Pleasure Is All Mine , Desired Constellation , Who Is It , Vökuró) .
  • 2005 (July 2nd) - Björk performed at the worldwide Live 8 benefit concerts in Tokyo (Tracklist: Pagan Poetry , All Is Full Of Love , Desired Constellation , Jóga , Generous Palmstroke , Hyperballad , Bachelorette , It's In Our Hands (Soft Pink Truth Mix)) .
  • 2005 (November 6) - Björk performed at the Meredith Monk Tribute Concert in New York and sang the cover of Gotham Lullaby .
  • 2006 (January 7th) - Björk played 3 songs at Hætta! Festival in Reykjavík (Festival against the destruction of Icelandic nature).
  • 2006 (November 17th) - 14 years after their separation, the Sugarcubes give a one-time concert with Björk in Reykjavík on the occasion of the 20th birthday of their successful single Birthday .
  • 2007 (April – December) - Volta Tour (43 concerts in Iceland, North and South America and Europe)
  • 2008 (January – December) - Volta Tour (35 concerts in Australia, Japan, China and Europe, including the Melt ! Festival, Björk's only Germany appearance in 2008)
  • 2009 (May 8) - Bjork plays a suite with the band Dirty Projectors in New York's Housing Works Bookstore Cafe.
  • 2011 (June 27 - July 16) - Biophilia installation at the Manchester International Festival, a preview show and six concerts at Campfield Market Hall (MOSI)
  • 2011 (October 12th - November 7th) - Biophilia concerts and workshops in Reykjavík at the Harpa Concert and Events Center
  • 2013 (September 7th) - Berlin Festival
  • 2015 (August 2nd) - Citadel Music Festival, Berlin


Web links

Commons : Björk  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Björk ( Memento from April 9, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  2. Marking the years in the history of Björk Guðmundsdóttir ( Memento from October 4, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  3. The lukewarm hands of the gods in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung of October 2, 2011, p. 28
  4. Biophilia. (No longer available online.) Spex .de, October 10, 2011, archived from the original on November 19, 2011 ; Retrieved November 21, 2011 .
  5. Omar Souleyman reworks Björk. Electronic Beats, July 26, 2011, accessed July 29, 2011 .
  6. Alice Vincent: Björk, Alexandra Palace, review. In: The Telegraph . September 4, 2013, accessed January 30, 2017 .
  7. Dave Simpson: Björk review - singer shines in achingly personal, stripped down performance. In: The Guardian . July 7, 2015, accessed January 30, 2017 .
  8. 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. Rolling Stone , December 2, 2010, accessed August 7, 2017 .
  9. The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time. Rolling Stone , August 2015, accessed August 7, 2017 .
  10. Klaus Winninger: CD review: Björk: "Homogenic" , In: , October 17, 1997
  11. Björk from Iceland is now single ( Memento from June 21, 2014 in the web archive )
  12. Christian Werthschulte, Pain as a Chance for Healing , In: of January 22, 2015
  13. ^ New Musical Express (English) of February 14, 2000 ( Memento of March 24, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  14. Max Dax: I stand on the shoulders of giants . Björk, in: Spex No. 359, 2015, p. 49
  15. ^ Forrest Wickman: It's Not Just Björk: Women Are Tired of Not Getting Credit for Their Own Music. In: Slate, January 21, 2015
  16. VISIBILITY: female: pressure is an international network of over 1400 female artists from 65 countries in the wider fields of electronic music. This blog was inspired by Bjork's Pitchfork article in January 2015 where she notes the lack of photographic documentation of women at work. Here we offer a visual catalog of female producers, DJ's, media artists and electronic music performers at work. , Tumblr blog by female: pressure, accessed May 5, 2015
  17. Database query on the website of the President of Iceland , accessed on July 6, 2020.
  18. Chart sources: DE AT CH UK US