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What we learned from Dazed’s Instagram AMA with Björk

The multidisciplinary musician and artist talks ageing, the future of the music industry, and how to look after yourself on tour

On Tuesday, ahead of the London leg of her Cornucopia tour, and just after being announced as our new cover starBjörk took time out to answer fans burning questions in an AMA on the Dazed Instagram account.

Over the course of 14 questions the Icelandic superstar spoke about being on tour, the future of the music industry and how she’s comfortable with the prospect of growing old.  Here are some of the main takeaways from the session, while the full AMA can be viewed here.

WOMEN IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY STILL HAVE IT BAD

The underrepresentation of women in the music industry is well documented. From male dominated festival line ups, to a 2018 report that found women amount to only 22 per cent of artists, 12 per cent of songwriters and two per cent of producers – it’s clear the industry has much to do in order to combat gender inequality. When questioned as to what challenges she has faced, and still faces, being a women in the music industry, Björk replied that it “still seems easier for people to imagine women as participant than an author of their work”.

SHE APPROACHED SONGWRITING DIFFERENTLY WHEN SHE WAS IN A BAND

Björk shed some light on her creative process, and the way in which she wrote songs when in bands. After rising to fame with The Sugarcubes in the late eighties, Björk embarked on her solo career in the early nineties, releasing the critically acclaimed Debut in 1993. One difference between the two experiences, it seems, is how songs were penned: “when i was in band we always co-wrote. when i felt like sharing my own songs my instinct was to step away, bringing a song into rehearsals would not have felt right…”

SHE ISN’T WORRIED ABOUT AGEING

As a culture it seems we are increasingly preoccupied with the idea of youth, and with those who are young and successful. However, when Björk was asked if she had any worries “about getting older cause everyone is so obsessed with youth”, the singer replied simply, “no not really”.  She continued, and referred to the Icelandic writers that she idolised as a child. These writers would often not produce their best works until there were in their “sixties , seventies”, Björk explained, “up til then was just rehearsals”. It seems Björk is committed to longevity, in both life and work. In response to a separate question, “is there an art form you haven’t mastered, or tried, that you want to?”, she expressed a desire to keep making music for “hundreds of years”. Another century of Björk!? We’ll drink to that.

TOUR LIFE CAN BE TOUGH 

Not even Björk is immune to the struggles that tour life can present. However, she shared some words of wisdom on how to stop feelings of homesickness and claustrophobia from getting you down while on the road. “i will walk a lot . try to find waterfront , harbours , parks i walk in and warm my voice up .” Björk stated. However, finding places of zen isn’t the only way in which the singer grounds herself when travelling. She continued, “i watch films from the region i am in …. south american when in south america , japanese in japan and so on . roots me to where I am”

SHE LIKES BEDROOM POP… SORT OF 

When asked the question “What’s the best way to make something beautiful if you have no money” Björk replied that she likes to “hike and sing”. It is true that both singing and hiking are free activities that can offer up beautiful results, be it a sweet melody or a glorious view, but it was the next part of her answer that was most exciting. “.... some of my favourite music i have found online recorded in bedrooms,” the singer elaborated.  Improvements in technology mean it’s now easier than ever for artists to record at home, indeed a whole genre was created around it, ‘Bedroom Pop’. The idea of Björk trawling through YouTube listening to homemade records is very wholesome, and we’ll keep our fingers crossed for that Björk x Clairo collab in the future.

MUSIC STREAMING SITES NEED TO TAKE SOME TIPS FROM NETFLIX

In a year where there was a 21 per cent decline in music download revenue, a 10 per cent drop off in revenue from CD and vinyl, and in an environment where some artist’s relationships with streaming sites remains frayed, it can be hard to feel enthusiastic about the state of the industry.  However, in response to the question “Do you think the music industry has a future now that no-one buys music anymore”, Björk sounded optimistic. She replied simply enough, “yes”, but also offered up some advice for streaming site executives. “would be incredible if music streaming sites would be like netflix , make albums and pay”, the singer continued. In a year where Netflix are expected to spend around 15 billion dollars on original content, it seems Björk believes the likes of Apple Music and Spotify should follow suit and start funding artist’s ventures.