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What we learned from Björk’s Reddit AMA

The Icelandic icon discussed her style evolution, maintaining creativity and RuPaul’s Drag Race

With the opening of the Björk Digital exhibition at London's Somerset House, the multi-disciplinary musician and artist delves into technology’s relationship with art in a show harnessing her fascination with virtual reality. And now, in a new Reddit AMA, we’re seeing a bit more of the enigmatic, decades-spanning Icelandic performer. Chatting Death Grips, drag queens and bringing her emotive songs to life in every single mind-blowing performance, here are her best bits in her own words – exactly how she typed it. 

CREATIVITY IS AN ANIMAL YOU HAVE TO TEND TO

In what’s a very Björk analogy, she describes everyone’s inherent artistic nature as a kind of animal, a living creature that needs to be fed and watered, that can go into hiding and cause problems if you don’t fully give yourself to it.

“i think creativity always lives somewhere in everyone but its nature is quite pranksterish and slippery and everytime u grab its tail its found a nu corner to thrive in (sic),” she wrote. “Perhaps the trick is not to force it and put it up against a wall and want it to be in a particular area . but rather w a lot of kindness sniff it out and wonder where it has gone to this time around. if its in sauce recipes, writing theatre plays, papermache improv w nephews, discovering nu hiking routes or simply trying to figure out a family members sense of humour.

“i def dont succeed in this all the time but feel overall things have been more fertile when i trust this creatures instincts and follow it rather than me willfully reforming it into a circus animal colouring by numbers. anyways: as much as youd like to ignore this animal u have to attend it. because if u dont them dark times turn up…”

SHE’S NEVER FELT PRESSURE TO CONFORM AS AN ARTIST

The singer says that growing up in Reykjavík gave her a good perspective on herself. Raised on a hippie commune by her mother, Björk’s work is faithfully linked to her Icelandic upbringing. She said she was “lucky” to have the time to explore her own identity and decide what she wanted to stick by. Whether it be her jewelled masks, a running jump into the mainstream film world with Lars Von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark or the tribal rhythms of Volta.

“We kinda had to make it up ourselves and release it ourselves, so when i have been introduced to restricting claustrophobic routes ive kinda just ignored them. because knew they werent true,” she said. “And selling 3 copies dont scare me, more important to stay true to my nature ....? also coming from punk background corporate companies where the enemy . it is really very clear . and more simple really.”

HER ALBUMS ARE ALL DIFFERENT CHARACTERS

As an artist that traces the lines of punk, indie-pop and darker electronica, unafraid to span music, fashion and art, she calls herself a “private investigator” working out a journey through each of her albums. The wondrous, quirky Debut from a tight-bunned girl somehow flowed to the later, intensely electronic Homogenic with an Alexander McQueen-designed cover. She explains: “The older i get i feel i am better with connecting it all things archetypal and therefore hopefully more universal and relatable. if theres one thing we can def count on it is that we are all always going to be going thru some sort of emotional progression, doesnt matter what race sex or age so we might aswell ride on it... doesnt matter how.”

RESPECTING HER SPACE, GET SWEET MUSIC IN RETURN

A user recalled seeing the singer at K-Bar in downtown Reykjavik, where they were surprised she didn’t attract much attention. “Yes, in iceland we have not much hierarchy and noone is more important than the next one therefore autographs kinda silly . here it is matter of self respect, if u want an autograph make one yourself lol,” she said.

“But also i like a lot how more known people are allowed to be different in how they communicate w their listeners. some people wanna do selfies and some write app albums and wanna teach children music and some do heavy metal tour 300 gigs a year crowdsurf kinda contact, whatever works right ?

“and i feel overall in life for everyone: if u get to choose how u are generous u can give the most? and i think over all the years people in reykjavik and my fans know that that if they respect my personal life and leave me be w my family and friends i will have more equilibrium and be able to write more songs and give way way way more . so its a win win situation !!!!”

HOW SHE GOT INTO DEATH GRIPS

Back in 2014, experimental hip-hop set Death Grips collaborated with Björk for their album Niggas on the Moon. She featured on all eight tracks. Discussing her relationship with the band, she said: “i basically got obsessed with guillotine, the video the song everything!!!!! deathgrips did 2 remixes or remakes to be more accurate of biophilia that were my faves and we have been in touch ever since!!! i just love their punk spirit and admire the whole lack of genre they do.”

SHE ABSOLUTELY LOVES RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE

Björk was asked had she seen the recent series of competitive drag show RuPaul’s Drag Race, where allstar contestants compete in ‘Snatch Game’ – dressing as iconic figures for a game show. Katya, one of the frontrunners, dressed as Björk. “YESSSSSSSS i absolutely loved it,” she said. “Especially when she started humming to herself ha ha ha ha selfishly i was hoping for a more current version like a vulnicura one lol but she nailed the feminist activist tribal volta sincerest form of flattery etc”.

‘Feminist activist tribal volta’ – perfect. We’re pleading with RuPaul to have “Declare Independence” as a lip sync battle.

HOW SHE WRITES HER EMOTIONS INTO HER SONGS

Across her earth-spanning legacy, the singer has performed with a gusto like no other, and an ability to make a track very distinctly ‘Björk’. She mused on how she brings her emotions to life, setting them to music: “i think it depends on the song ... some songs are almost like timeloops and pull u into them when the first notes start. other are more translucent and can weave into them the day and the moment u sing them in . like on a gig some take u back but others easily just add to the particular day u perform them on.

“as a song writer u usually aim for the first type. u try to write a simple but timeless structure , a vessel that is so thousand percent only one emotional location that it is impossible to bend it. and therefore has more interesting entrypoints for listeners. but most of the time u dont succeed , u just do your best and most of the time while youre writing them u dont know if your song has this element or not....? but thats def the reason why it remains exciting to perform them because u never really know... which ones are gonna be relevant and which ones not ....”