At the time Bjork was at what most critics consider to be her creative peak (the late ’90s and early ’00s), she was part of a group of female musicians that, no matter how stylistically different, tended to be lumped together. PJ Harvey, Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, and dozens of other women from the era were constantly stacked up against each other and even worse, says Bjork in a recent interview with Pitchfork Media, discredited by the media in favor of the men who collaborate with them.
“I’ve sometimes thought about releasing a map of all my albums and just making it clear who did what. But it always comes across as so defensive that, like, it’s pathetic. I could obviously talk about this for a long time.”
With her newest album Vulnicura, Bjork decided that it was time to put an end to the widespread notion that she was a bystander in her own artistic expression. When Bjork first announced that a new album was on the way, it was attributed to the young Venezuelan produce Arca, who had co-produced the album with Bjork. Finally, she decided it time to speak out.
“I didn’t want to talk about that kind of thing for 10 years, but then I thought, ‘You’re a coward if you don’t stand up. Not for you, but for women. Say something.’ So around 2006, I put something on my website where I cleared something up, because it’d been online so many times that it was becoming a fact. It wasn’t just one journalist getting it wrong, everybody was getting it wrong. I’ve done music for, what, 30 years? I’ve been in the studio since I was 11; Alejandro had never done an album when I worked with him.”
This newest instance of Bjork’s music being attributed to the man by her side is far from the first. She specifically remarked that critical smash 2001 album Vespertine was largely accredited to her friend and co-producer Matmos, despite the fact that he also tried to voice that he merely cleaned up tracks that Bjork had already largely laid out. Bjork points out that another musician, self-proclaimed genius Kanye West, has never faced such criticism despite the fact that he flatly contracts other people to write beats for him.
“I have nothing against Kanye West. Help me with this—I’m not dissing him—this is about how people talk about him. With the last album he did, he got all the best beatmakers on the planet at the time to make beats for him. A lot of the time, he wasn’t even there. Yet no one would question his authorship for a second.”
Bjork is, however, hopeful about the possibilities that women in music have in the future now that the problem is being addressed.
“I want to support young girls who are in their 20s now and tell them: You’re not just imagining things. It’s tough. Everything that a guy says once, you have to say five times.”
Bjork’s new album, Vulnicura, is now available on iTunes after a rush release following its leak earlier this week.
[Image via Walter Logeman, Flickr]