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Björk

Name: Björk Guðmundsdottir
Born: 21. November 1965. Reykjavik Iceland (on a Sunday).

FAMILY:

Father: Guðmundur Gunnarsón
Mother: Hildur Runa Hauksdóttir
Son: Sindri, born 8th June 1986.
Daughter: Isadora, born 3th October 2002.
Grandmother: Hallfridur Gudmundsdóttir
Grandfather: Gunnar Gudmundssón
Sisters/Brothers: According to the biography at UI, she has 3 half-brothers and 3 half-sisters, from later marriages and relationships, after her parents divorced when Björk was about 2.
One of her half-brother's is named Arnar (born in 1970, same mother).
Her sister Inga Hrönn sings in a band called Hundslappadrifa. She also sang backups with Björk at a Megas album.
She has a sister Inga, who is her half sister by her father.

Religion:

Björk said: "I'm very religious, Yes. But I have my own religion. In Iceland it doesn't makes sense two people be in the same religion. It's like have the same fingerprint."

Early Career

Björk's musical career began at the age of eleven, when she began studying classical piano in elementary school. One of her instructors submitted a recording of Björk singing Tina Charles' song "I Love to Love" to RÚV, then the only radio station in Iceland. The recording was aired nationally; upon hearing it, a representative of the record label Fálkinn contacted Björk with a record contract offer. With the help of her stepfather, who played guitar, she recorded her eponymous debut in 1977. This album featured several Icelandic children's songs, and covers of popular songs such as the Beatles' The Fool on the Hill, sung in Icelandic. Later it was said to have been a smash hit in Iceland; While this is an exaggeration, the album was still a modest success.

Punk music began to have an influence on Björk; at the age of fourteen, she formed the all-girl punk band Spit and Snot, shortly followed by a jazz fusion group called Exodus in 1979. In 1980, she graduated from music school at the age of fifteen, and in 1981, she and bassist Jakob Magnússon formed another band called Jam-80, and then they turned into Tappi Tíkarrass (which means "Cork the Bitch's Ass" in Icelandic), and released an extended single, Bítið Fast í Vítið in the same year. Their album Miranda was released in 1983.

Björk next collaborated with Einar Örn Benediktsson and Einar Melax from Purrkur Pillnikk, and Guðlaugur Óttarsson, Sigtryggur Baldursson and Birgir Mogensen from Þeyr. After writing songs and rehearsing for two weeks, they (under the name KUKL which means "sorcery" in Icelandic) found they worked well together, and decided to continue, developing a sound that some have described as resembling Goth music. Björk began to show indications of what would become her trademark singing style, punctuated with howls and shrieks.

KUKL toured Iceland with anarchist UK punk band Crass, and later visited the UK in a series of performances with Flux of Pink Indians. The band produced two albums as a result of these collaborations: The Eye in 1984, and Holidays in Europe in 1986, both on Crass Records. In the summer of 1986, several members of KUKL went on to form a band called Pukl but soon changed the name to The Sugarcubes.

Mainstream success

The Sugarcubes

The Sugarcubes' first single, "Afmæli" (or "Birthday" in English), became a huge hit in the UK. They gained a significant cult following in the US and UK, and calls from record companies began coming in. Eventually the band signed with One Little Indian in the UK and with Elektra Records in the United States, and recorded their first album, Life's Too Good, in 1988. The album propelled them into international stardom — the first Icelandic rock band to achieve such popularity. While with the Sugarcubes, Björk participated in a number of side projects. She recorded Gling-Gló, a collection of popular jazz and original work, with the bebop group Trio Guðmundar Ingólfssonar, released in Iceland. Björk also contributed vocals to 808 State's album ex:el, a collaboration which cultivated her interest in house music.

Solo career / Debut

By 1992 the Sugarcubes dissolved. Björk moved to London and began thinking about a solo career; to this end, she began working with producer Nellee Hooper, who had produced for Massive Attack, among others. Their partnership produced Björk's first international solo hit, "Human Behaviour". Her solo debut album, simply entitled Debut, was released in June of 1993 to positive reviews; it was named album of the year by NME, and eventually went platinum in the United States. Debut was a mix of songs Björk had written since she was a teenager as well as newer lyrical collaborations with Hooper.

The success of Debut enabled her to collaborate with other artists on one-off tracks; she worked with David Arnold on "Play Dead", the theme to the 1993 film The Young Americans (which appeared as a bonus track on a re-release of Debut), two songs on Tricky's Nearly God project, also appeared on a track on the 1997 album Not For Threes by Plaid, which was released on the cult Warp Records label, and even wrote the song, "Bedtime Story", for Madonna.

Post

Björk returned to the studio during 1994 to work on her next solo album with Nellee Hooper, Tricky, Graham Massey of 808 State, and electronic music producer Howie B. The album, Post, contained songs based on Björk's relationships and songs about love (one of her favorite subjects), as well as some angry and confrontational material. Like "Debut" it was a collection partly made up of songs she had written in past years.

She wrote the song "Bedtime Story" for Madonna's 1994 album Bedtime Stories (parts of which Björk reused in her song "Sweet Intuition"), and performed on MTV Unplugged during this time. By 1995, the new album Post was ready; it was released in June, reaching number two on the UK's album charts, and also went platinum in the United States. January of 1997 saw the release of Telegram, an album of uncharacteristic remixes of songs from Post.

Homogenic

Later that year, the chaotic, electronic album Homogenic was released and marked a dramatic shift from her earlier "pixie" image cultivated on the Debut and Post albums. Björk worked with producers Mark Bell of LFO and Howie B on the album, as well as Eumir Deodato; numerous remixes followed. Homogenic was her first conceptually self-contained album and is regarded as one of Björk's most experimental and extroverted works to date, with enormous beats that reflect the landscape of Iceland, most notably in the song "Jóga", which fuses lush strings with rocky electronic crunches. The emotionally-charged album contains a string of memorable music videos, several of which received airplay on American MTV, especially the epic "Bachelorette" and "All is Full of Love", which became an alt-rock hit in 1999. The album eventually reached gold status in the States in 2001.

Vespertine

In 2001 the album Vespertine was released. This album saw Björk creating an introverted, internal, personal world of microbeats and tiny rhythms. The album featured chamber orchestras, choirs, very hushed vocals and personal, vulnerable themes. She collaborated with experimental sound manipulators Matmos, a DJ from Denmark Thomas Knak, and the experimental harpist Zeena Parkins for the album. Lyrical sources included the American poet E. E. Cummings and the American independent filmmaker Harmony Korine.

Vespertine spawned three singles: "Hidden Place", "Pagan Poetry", and "Cocoon". America's then-more independent and artistic music video channel, MTV2, played the album's first video, "Hidden Place", pretty heavily, despite its somewhat controversial lyrics and imagery. However, the next video, for "Pagan Poetry", brought Björk to an even higher level of controversy with the channel. The song's video features graphic piercings, blurred sex scenes, and Björk's exposed nipples. As a result, the clip was initially rarely shown by MTV, and certain parts (for example, Björk's breasts) were censored out during the rare occasions when it was played. In 2002, the clip finally enjoyed unedited American airing as part of a late night special on MTV2 entitled Most Controversial Music Videos. Previously banned or censored videos were shown in their entirety during the TV-MA-rated special which aired on MTV2 regularly on weekends between 1 and 5 AM. The video for "Cocoon" also featured a naked Björk, this time with her nipples secreting a red thread that eventually enveloped the singer herself in a cocoon. The video was not aired by MTV, but it was seen by all of Iceland.

Family Tree / Greatest Hits / Live Box

2002 saw the appearance of the CD box set Family Tree containing a "these-are-my-roots" retrospective of Björk's career, comprising many previously unreleased versions of her compositions, including some very quiet work with a string quartet, the Brodsky Quartet. Also released that year was the album Greatest Hits, a retrospective of the previous ten years of her solo career as deemed by the public: The songs on the album were chosen by Björk's fans through a poll on Björk's website. A DVD edition of the CD was also released; it contained all of Björk's solo music videos up to that point. The new single from the set, "It's In Our Hands", charted in the UK at number thirty-seven.

In 2003 Björk released a box set called Live Box, consisting of four CDs containing live recordings of her previous albums and a DVD featuring a video of one track from each CD. Each of the four CDs were later released separately at a reduced price.

Medúlla

2004 saw the release of Björk's Medúlla, in late August. Medúlla had been more of an impromptu piece of work after the two concept albums, but in the midst of production Björk decided the album would work best as an entirely vocal-based album. The majority of the sounds on the album are created by vocalists (although these sounds are often electronically distorted). Björk used the vocal skills of hip hop beatboxer Rahzel, Japanese beatboxer Dokaka, avant-rocker Mike Patton, Soft Machine drummer/singer Robert Wyatt, and several choirs; she again appropriated text from poet E. E. Cummings for the song "Sonnets/Unrealities XI." Medúlla has a raw, guttural, and ancestral feel.

In August 2004 Björk performed the song "Oceania" (from her Medúlla album) at the Opening Ceremony of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. In typical Björk style, her performance was one of the more unusual ones of the event. As she sang, her dress slowly unravelled to reveal a 10,000 square foot (900 m²) map of the world, which she let flow over all of the Olympic athletes. The song "Oceania" was written especially for the occasion and features the vocals of Shlomo, a Leeds based beatboxer, and a London choir. An alternate version of the song began circulating on the internet with additional vocals by Kelis. Though some were confused as to the authenticity of this collaboration, Björk's camp confirmed its legitimacy. The follow-up of "Oceania" was "Who Is It" which charted at number twenty-six in the UK followed by "Triumph of a Heart" in 2005 charting at number thirty-one. A video for the potential next single, "Where is the Line?", was filmed in collaboration with the Icelandic artist Gabríela Fridriksdóttir in late 2004.

Other than these few performances, no concerts or tours were arranged to promote Medúlla. Björk said in numerous interviews that this was because she wished to immediately continue writing and recording yet another new album. She spoke to Rolling Stone in June 2004: "Every album I've done, the minute that it's done, I feel really lubricated and, like, 'Wow, now I can write an album in five minutes'... And I just want to find out if that's just a fantasy or if it's true."

Army of Mixes

After the disastrous tsunami which struck Southeast Asia in late 2004, Björk began working on a new project, Army of Mixes. This new project recruited fans and musicians from around the world as Björk posted on her website the need for the covering and remixing of the 1995 hit, "Army of Me". Björk was overwhelmed with the 600 responses which came flooding in. Out of these Björk as well as co-writer Graham Massey, picked the best twenty to appear on the album. The album was released in April in the UK and in late May 2005 the US. It peaked at number fourteen on the dance albums chart in the UK. As of January 2006, the album had raised around £250,000 to help UNICEF's work in the south east Asian region.

Drawing Restraint 9

On July 25 2005 in the UK and on August 23 in the US, Björk released the album Drawing Restraint 9. It is a soundtrack to her boyfriend Matthew Barney's movie Drawing Restraint 9; Björk explores traditional Japanese music styles to complement the experimental film, where two lovers find themselves on a whaling ship and cut off each other's feet.

On January 10, 2006, Björk earned another BRIT Awards nomination for Best International Female Solo Artist.

Björk performed with Zeena Parkins on November 7 2005 at the Zenkel Hall in Carnegie Hall for Meredith Monk's "Making Music" concert. They performed Meredith's "Gotham Lullaby", a song Björk had also performed during her Vespertine and Greatest Hits tours. Björk and Meredith Monk have been working together on a collaborative piece, which they will perform together in 2006. It is unknown whether this collaboration will appear on Björk's next album.

Signifying her status as one of pop music's true originals and one of the most daring, innovative, and idiosyncratic artists of the last two decades, Björk was awarded the prestigious Inspiration Award at the Annual Q Magazine Awards in October 2005, accepting the prize from Robert Wyatt, with whom she collaborated on 2004's Medúlla album. Björk said in an interview for Q Magazine that she is living in Reykjavík again and is starting work on a new album. Nothing has been said of the content or theme of the album, although Björk has said that she plans to record some of it using the latest computer technology on a round-the-world boat trip with boyfriend Matthew Barney and their daughter Isadora in 2006. She is currently training for the trip.

Björk has also remastered and remixed her five solo studio albums (Debut, Post, Homogenic, Vespertine and Medúlla) and her two soundtrack albums (Selmasongs and Drawing Restraint 9) in 5.1 surround sound for a re-issue in a new box-set titled (____surrounded):.

 

2007 - Current projects

Björk has been recording material for her next album for the past few months. The album is now finished, and it has been suggested that it will be released on May 7, 2007.

( Bjork VOLTA 2007 )

Info: Bj♥rk FAQ & Wikipedia ;

 

 

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