Bjork Gudmundsdottir

Bjork is credited as the original songwriter for the song Mama that Annie Lennox covered for the charity album Ain't Nuthin But A She Thing.

was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1965, where she grew up in a communal household (though not a hippie commune, she's keen to point out). Music was played 24 hours a day. "I remember a queue by the record player," she says. "The record would finish and you'd be ready to put another one on." At the age of five she was enrolled in music school where she studied flute and piano for ten years. Then at the age of eleven she made an album with the help of her mother and friends. A big hit in Iceland, the eponymously titled Bj?rk featured only one song written by Bj?rk herself, though she became an Icelandic celebrity on the strength of its success. "I felt a lot of guilt," she admits. "I promised myself that I would never front anything unless I was the one who did it." So at the age of 13 she started forming punk bands. First came Exodus, then Tippi Tikarrass, then K.U.K.L., a band that recorded two albums for the label run by the legendary UK anarchist band, Crass. "When I was a punk there was no such thing as Icelandic music," she says. "We had to invent it." In 1987, Einer ?rn, Siggi Baldurson and Bj?rk formed a new band, called The Sugarcubes, with Th?r Eldon, Magga ?rn?lfsd?ttir and Bragi Olafsson. From their first single, "Birthday", they were a band with unique qualities, combining a raw post-punk feel with touches of experimental sonority, affecting melodies and Bj?rk's extraordinary, exultant singing. The Sugarcubes put Icelandic music on the world map, with Bj?rk's personality, dress sense and vocal style tailor made for an increasingly faceless music scene in desperate need of strong, innovative and self-determined individuals. By 1992, after 4 albums, The Sugarcubes were ready to split. Their last release - a remix project - reflected Bj?rk's growing involvement in the UK dance scene. Beginning a lengthy professional relationship with Graham Massey, she had recorded with 808 State, singing on two tracks on their EX:EL album. Then Debut, released in July 1993, changed everything. Produced by Nellee Hooper, emerging as a leading producer after an apprenticeship in Bristol's vibrantly eclectic hip-hop scene and massive success with Soul II Soul, and featuring the string arranging and tablas of Talvin Singh and brass arrangements by Bj?rk and Oliver Lake, the album introduced Bj?rk as one of the most unusual solo artists and distinctive vocalists to appear in years. "With Debut I was obviously a beginner," Bj?rk admits. Her producer set up strange recording environments - a beach at night, a cave full of bats - in which she could test her limits. "Nellee Hooper was very supportive in helping me to deal with the world," she says, "the studio, my sense and longing for adventure." Despite the experimentation, more likely because of it, Debut was full of hugely accessible songs such as "Human Behaviour", "Venus As A Boy", "Big Time Sensuality" and "Violently Happy", that still rank as favourites. Since Debut, her work has always followed her heart. Early days in Reykjavik listening to her grandparents' jazz collection, her mother's rock records, her classical music education, the songs, sagas and poetry of Iceland, anarchist punk bands and arguments about art were all carried with her into the musical vibrancy of London's stylistic, ethnic and artistic mix. Debut sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide and was followed in 1993 by Post, an even bigger success that added Graham Massey, Howie B and Tricky to Nellee Hooper's production skills. More big songs emerged from the album, including "Army Of Me", "Isobel", "Hyperballad", "Possibly Maybe", "I Miss You" and "It's So Quiet", a rare cover version that became Bj?rk's most successful record. After Post's bigger beats, deeper sub-bass and the cartoonish big band outburst of "It's Oh So Quiet", Homogenic , released in 1997, was more experimental in its contrasting textures, more bold in its intensity and structure. Produced by Bj?rk with Mark Bell, Guy Sigsworth and

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