Björk is back with a new album, Utopia, and her eccentric brilliance is once again on full display. The dress from the video for “The Gate” took 870 hours to make. You probably know that Björk is from Iceland and that she is famous for once wearing a swan dress on the red carpet. But there is much more to the woman whose birth name is Björk Guðmundsdóttir.
1. Björk has two children. Sindri Eldon Þórsson is a 32-year old journalist and musician. Her 16-year old daughter Isadora Bjarkardottir is her child with the visual artist Matthew Barney.
2. Although people pronounce the name “B’york,” the real pronunciation is “Beyerk.” People really need to study their Icelandic!
3. Björk first gained worldwide fame as the singer of the band, The Sugarcubes, but she had already performed in many bands by the time they were formed in 1986. She grew up in a commune in Reykjavík with her activist mother and union leader father. She learned to play flute and piano in school. In her teens, she was a member of several punk bands, including all-girl band Spit and Snot, and Tappi Tikarrass (Cork the Bitch’s Ass). She used her classical training to form some jazz bands, including a jazz fusion band called JAM80 and another called Exodus. Björk formed a gothic rock group called Kukl (Sorcery) before finally forming The Sugarcubes and scoring a hit single, “Birthday.”
4. Although some believe Björk only started acting seriously in 2000 in Lars von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark, she has been acting for almost as long as she has been a singer. In 1986 she started in The Juniper Tree, a movie based on a Brothers Grimm story, where she portrayed Margit, whose mother was killed for practicing witchcraft. Björk turned down the role of Jet Girl in the 1995 film Tank Girl, an adaptation of the comic book.
5. Björk is known for many unusual songs, punctuated by shrieks. One of her most unusual songs is very popular in Iceland around Christmas. “Jólakötturinn” (“The Christmas Cat”) was written for an Icelandic Christmas album. It tells the folkloric tale of Yule Cat, who eats children who don’t get new clothes for Christmas. The song’s lyrics were written by Jóhannes úr Kötlum, an Icelandic poet.
6. Björk is often controversial and has made many compelling music videos Acclaimed director Michel Gondry directed a video for “Army Of Me” that was banned by MTV in 1995. In the video, she places a bomb next to her lover, who is sleeping inside an art museum. MTV felt it was insensitive because of the Oklahoma City bombing the same year.
7. Björk is definitely considered more of a performance artist, but she has had many pop hits. Thirty singles reached the Top 40 charts, including 22 Top 40’s in the UK. She has sold between 20 and 40 million records.
8. Björk is an acclaimed actress, having won the Best Actress award at Cannes for her performance in Dancer in the Dark. she was also nominated for an Academy Award and two Golden Globes.
9. The album Medúlla is entirely vocals backed occasionally by electronic programming. Throat singer Tanya Tagaq, beatboxer Rahzel, japanese beatboxer Dokka, and avant-garde rocker Mike Patton are among the featured vocalists, accompanied by multiple choirs. Medúlla was her highest-charting album in the US, debuting at 14 in 2004.
10. Björk has continued her mother’s environmental activist, protesting the creation of an aluminum plant for Alcoa and founding a nonprofit called “Náttúra”, which promotes Icelandic nature and grassroots industries. She also undertook the unusual task for creating a venture capital fund, called “BJÖRK”, to support the creation of sustainable industries.