Björk is an enigma and an undisputed icon of the music industry whose career spans over four-decades of ever-changing genius. The only thing that the Icelandic pioneer has continued to practise over this time-span is pure originality. She is a keen student and avid fan of the wondrous world of creativity in general, whatever form it takes she will find a way to use it as her muse.
Having been a part of the music industry since the tender age of 11, Björk grew up within an intensely creative and unforgiving business. To be surrounded by the artists that have swirled around her own journey has affected her in a beautifully positive manner. Ever since she first gained international recognition as the lead singer of the alternative rock band the Sugarcubes, Björk has always kept moving and never dared rest on her laurels. Her shapeshifting career has made Björk one of the most dynamic artists to have ever graced the planet; she is much more than just a musician and continuously looks to push barriers within her work.
Björk has always been an early adopter of technology and, rather than looking backwards, the singer blends her timeless voice with futuristic machinery that allows her to develop her artistry continuously. As the Icelandic musician is always exploring new ideas to integrate within her music, she rarely looks towards music for inspiration. Instead, Björk looks within the wildest of corners, to places where her contemporaries wouldn’t even contemplate blending into their work.
A handful of artists can compete with having such a wide range of inspirations as Björk and, in 2016, she opened up to The Guardian about some of her favourite creative talents, ranging from musicians to drag queens. A left-field source of inspiration for the wondrous singer is Robin Hunicke and Jenova Chen, two talents that are far from household names, but, their work has had a considerable impact on Björk’s art. The duo is the brains behind independent video games such as Journey and Flower, which the singer almost runs out of superlatives discussing.
“Before we did the ‘Stonemilker’ video, my friends said, ‘[Journey] is a game you would actually like, it’s different to all the other ones.’ I tried it and loved it,” Björk explained. “I thought it was brave, it’s trying to map out a spiritual place. And it belongs in this medium, it’s not just murdering, killing and hell. I feel strongly about that. I’m up for murdering, killing and hell films and games and TV series being 50% of stuff, but now it seems about 95%, and I’ve had it.”
She continued: “Another game Jenova and Robin did, Flower, you’re just floating above fields of flowers forever, and if you manage to touch enough flowers you create this synergy between them and you get a halo, almost like this enlightenment. It sounds hippy but it’s beautiful and profound. I talked to them and they were telling me how many people contacted them, that the games stopped people from committing suicide and got them through rough patches in their lives.”
Visual artist Jordan Wolfson is another creative who Björk was totally taken aback by, stating: “When I go to galleries, I find it hard that things are always cerebral. Maybe I’m a bit old-school but I like things that are emotional and visceral or primordial. Or maybe I’ve just been at so many music events where the main exchange or currency is feelings. [His recent robot sculpture] was so interesting to me.
“It was a physical thing that felt human, it had layers, it had sadness and death and had a will to live, that fight going on, which I was hypnotised by, I could watch it forever.”
While Ru-Paul may be one of the most familiar faces in entertainment, sometimes a section of light-hearted viewing can be the perfect source of escapism as Björk can attest to first-hand. “Recently I was looking for something to watch with my daughter, and over the last few months we watched all eight series,” she told the publication. “It’s uplifting how [RuPaul] builds up the queens, he gives them tough love and they blossom throughout the series. It’s really life-affirming. But on top of everything else, it’s obviously hilarious. I know all the queens now by name; we quote it left, right and centre.”
Whilst Björk can seemingly find inspiration in anything, the art form that she primarily practices is still one that she constantly admires and is where her heart lies. Musicians like Texan artist, Rabin, Katie Gately, Sadaf and fellow Icelandic singers, Jofriður Akadottir make it onto her list of inspirations. Another musician who Björk commends is R&B star, Jeremih, noting: “He has that purity and joy in his voice that Michael Jackson had when he was at his best. Out of all these R&B guys he’s my favourite, when I want a really pure, happy R&B song about celebrating life, I put Jeremih on.”
Check out her full-list of inspirations, below.
Björk’s biggest inspirations:
- Samantha Shay and Káryyn
- Margrét Vilhjálmsdóttir
- Clio Barnard
- Claire Hentschker
- Robin Hunicke And Jenova Chen
- Katie Gately
- Harry Evans
- Maholo Uchida
- Crispin Best
- Jordan Wolfson
- Jofriður Akadottir