about : Vulnicura
Björk à propos de Atom Dance

Biophilia. a little bit, but I felt it could live on Vulnicura because it could be like once you have healed then you’re out of the pain, the healing process. The destination of the celebration of love could be, uh, a good one. So, uh, maybe it’s a song that could live in both places. And also I tried to arrange “Atom Dance” for organ and gameleste and it sort of didn’t work. It needed more energy. So it was actually perfect to put the strings on it. ’Cause then you got energy. ’Cause it’s a very strange song, it’s kind of slow, but it needs to be slow and fast at the same time.

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Björk à propos de Atom Dance

I wanted to write a song about love in the most kind of universal way. Not in a personal way, like, uh, ode to love and I wanted to find the common thread in like Sufi and Vikivaki. And so I wrote the song in like 5/4 so it’s cyclical that could turn round and round and round kind of how some of the Sufi whirling dervishes when they’re turning in circles, the sort of trance you get into. This is actually the one song on Vulnicura which I spend most time in. And actually the oldest song in Vulnicura I wrote it, it almost made it to Biophilia. So it was when I was thinking about different rhythms and cyclical patterns and math. And then it didn’t make it to Biophilia because basically it took me like three years to write this one. Not constantly but I kept going back to it and improving it and improving it. I wrote the lyric with Oddny Eir and Anoni was singing it. I asked her to sing it with me.

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Björk à propos de Stonemilker

I was walking on a beach and I was walking back and forth and the lyrics came along without me really editing them. The strength of this album is really simplicity and the thinking out loud feeling. And I shouldn’t be too clever. It would work against it. So, I kind of just went with the first words that came … [they’re] probably the most obvious lyrics I’ve ever written.”

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Björk à propos de Stonemilker

It’s about someone who’s trying to get emotions out of another person. The whole song is emotionally about wanting clarity, wanting simplicity, and talking to someone who wants things to be really complex and foggy and unclear. And you saying, ok, I’ve got clarity : want it or not ? So it’s sort of celebrating simplicity and clarity...

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Björk à propos de Stonemilker

I’m mostly a singer, but I think the way I sing is I usually wait for a day that I’m kind of probably more impulsive than other days in one way or another [laughs]. So when I sing, I go to this place where it’s more similar to when I’m doing a concert — I will not have so much of my brain in there [laughs]. I’ll just warm up my voice, have a coffee and jump in the deep end, where you’re more a performer.

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Björk à propos de Stonemilker

It was very important that the strings were cyclical, this chord cycle that gives you this feeling it can go on and on in circles. It gives you this feeling of equilibrium, like the person who’s singing the song is showing some sort of harmony to someone as an example. ... It’s trying, in the most harmonious way possible, to prove a point [laughs]. Because I think staying emotionally open, it’s a choice. I think it’s equally hard for all of us, and we’re just all doing our best, but there’s also a choice : Do you want to try, and maybe fail ... or is it your choice to not even try ?

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Björk à propos de Vulnicura

C’est un album plus traditionnel que Biophilia du point de vue de l’écriture. (…) Il parle de ce qui peut arriver à une personne à la fin d’une relation. Il raconte les dialogues qu’on peut avoir dans la tête et dans le cœur, le processus de guérison, ce genre de choses.

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Björk à propos de Vulnicura

It was my choice with Vulnicura to do the predictable : be a girl and moan about my boyfriend. I was like, there’s going to be three years of talking about this and it’s going to take a lot time to get out of that too. Once you play that game, they just want you in that role for a long time. It took me two years to write the album then I was like, OK let’s just do it and take it on. It will take me a while to undo it, but I will just take it on.

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Björk à propos de Vulnicura

J’espère que cet album documentera le cheminement intégral. Au final c’est une libération. Une fois sorti, il se révèle être un processus de guérison, c’est comme ça que je l’ai vécu.
Avec cet album, c’était une grosse surprise. Quand j’ai écouté les chansons, c’était presque comme un journal intime.

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Björk à propos des cordes de l’album

It was kind of perfect timing – I mean, I’d given strings a 12-year break,’ she reflects. ‘When I came back to them, I felt a lot more confident, and arranging and transcribing felt much more natural. It’s the first time I’ve really done all the arrangements myself : coming up with the melodies, but also distributing the parts and printing out the scores. Oh yeah, and “doing the Italian” !

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Björk à propos du leak

Well, the leak happened just a day after the record was mastered, so, the album was ready, you know ? I probably would have reacted differently if it hadn’t been, if the songs were half finished or the sound was off. But this just seemed right. It’s been such an unusual record for me, both in terms of the subject matter, and also just how quickly I made it. I started working with Alejandro [Ghersi, Arca, Björk’s collaborator on ‘Vulnicura’], and all of the sudden we had a record, before we knew it ! So when this happens, we’re just, “let’s release it, then !”
Everything about this record was a bit impulsive.

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Björk à propos du titre Black Lake

I felt almost embarrassed about some of what’s on that album. Like with Black Lake. It’s so full of self-pity. However, it feels a little different if I can say : “that song was written three months after the divorce—give me a break ! I was maybe feeling really sorry for myself and filled with cowardice when I wrote that, but a few months have passed—I’m doing better now !”
So there’s also humour in it. But I could barely stand to play it for my friends. I felt embarrassed.

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Björk à propos du titre Black Lake

J’étais vraiment gênée par cette chanson. Je peux encore difficilement l’écouter.

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Björk à propos du titre Black Lake

I think I was mostly focused on emotion. This is the record’s hardest song for me. It was written three months after the divorce. I flew to Japan and didn’t manage to adjust to the time difference, because… you know…
It was really the bottom for me, in that process. I had checked into this wonderful health retreat to recover from the jetlag, it was just me and James [Merry, Björk’s assistant] and his boyfriend Jón, acting silly and having laughing fits. And there were these hot springs and everyone was wearing Samurai clothes, as if we were in a Japanese animé.
I would operate on Icelandic time, sleeping through the day, spending my nights soaking in the hotsprings by myself. And I wrote this song, insanely jetlagged, and I had to work through this feeling…
It’s like, when you’re trying to express something and you sort of start, but then nothing comes out. You can maybe utter five words and then you’re just stuck in the pain. And the chords in-between, they sort of represent that. Those minutes of stuttering silence. Then, you maybe manage a few more words, and then you’re stuck again.
We called them “the freezes,” these moments between the verses. They’re longer than the verses, actually. It’s just that one emotion when you’re stuck. It is hard, but it’s also the only way to escape the pain, just going back and having another go, trying to make another verse.
Black Lake also employs a method that I used a long time ago, in a song off Post that’s called Possibly Maybe. In that song, each verse was named after a month, it was nine verses for nine months. Actually, some of those verses wound up being cut, and of course it’s not at all as dramatic, but it shares with Black Lake a… a temporality ? As in, the song progresses through time. The first verse happens a month after… I can’t remember for sure, but the second verse is maybe a week later, and the next verse is a week after that.
By the time we reach the last verse, something has changed, something is different.

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Björk à propos du titre Quicksand

I’d been trying to put some beats to Quicksand and nothing worked,” Björk says. “It’s a song about my mother who had a heart attack and she was in a coma for six days – she’s much better now – so it’s in a different category to all my other songs because I’d never written a song about my mother before.
“I heard John’s beat online and I knew immediately that it would fit exactly with the song. I contacted him and it was very awkward because I had never worked like this before. I said to him, ‘it seems like I’ve made a mash-up of your song and my song and this is what we got. Are you okay with this, can I release it, how do you feel about this ?’ John said yes and we put it on the album. I was really lucky that he was up for it.

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Björk à propos du titre Quicksand

It’s my turn or something, and then I have to deal with it — the black lake in me,” she said. “Because when a relationship falls apart, you have to. . . . It’s pretty hard-core stuff.

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Black lake

i remember writing black lake in
a hot spring rural spa in japan
this was the bottom of my heartbreak
and that combined with jetlag
i han"’t been able to sleep for a week or so
so at night i would walk down this geo thermal creak
and add a verse after verse to this song
it was the absolute surrender
i wanted the strings in the beginning
and at the end to be almost like an old painting
where the canvas was coming a part
so you could see through it
and still today when i ask players to play it
i ask them to do it kinda left handed
or if their hand is broken. .....
...then there are the freezes :
long chords where you are so paralysed
with sorrow you cant move
but in the middle of the song you
have gathered the courage
to express yourself passionately
but still : hopefully the music
a little like an old painting
seen through a
21st century screen

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History of Touches

history of touches is a poem
about when the first time
in a relationship
(that you had gathered
essence to last 5 lifetimes)
is about to end
so instead of looking at it
forwards into the future
you stand at the end point and look back
the brain does a funny self survival thing
that it goes through all you memories
like a filofax
and restores them
so i could see all the times
we made love flash infront of me
and i kept hearing the sound
like fingers stroking through filofaxes
and we tried to base the arrangements
on that sound :
that brain hick-up
of trauma

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in lionsong i had rented a cabin just outside reykjavik
in heidmörk. and i was walking in
the protection of the trees
opening up my throat and
tilting my head back thinking
i wanted maximum air to flow
through my body and without
hindrance out of my mouth.
i spent aeons on the string arrangement
based on vocal improvisations..
i guess i wanted to move up a step
with my arrangements and base
them more on the narrative form
of my voice rather than background chords.
the arrangement is probably also
influenced by the crooked birch forest
i was walking through.
first song in human scale trees
after the galactical scale of biophilia

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Mouth mantra

the orchestra for vulnicura was unusual in the way that it had 5 cellos
5 violas and 5 violins. ...
(most orchestras have around 30 violins, 12 violas and 6 cellos )
this was because i wanted a dark muddy sound, to match the
heavyness of sorrow on a heartbreak album .
mouth mantra is not about heartbreak though, it is a song i wrote
about having to go to a vocal nodule surgery
the lyric is about all the moments i have sung and all the high notes
my throat has allowed me to sing and the gratitude for that
appreciate all the air that has gone through it
so in this song, i decided to add to the timbre of the album as a
and this be where i would make these muddy deep strings as dense
as possible
and spent months making it more rhythmic, added friction
and thick thick chords
like nodules

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notget is the last and sixth song of
the heartbreak saga on vulnicura
i wanted it to be the manifesto
of someone who believes in love
that if you merge into love
then you experience "the forever"
but if you don’t love, you fear death
(kinda an albino goth song, i guess.
this song was the first song
in mine and arca"s collaboration,
where we met 50/50
i edited an already made song of hers
together with mine and
then arranged strings
inspired by moments in both
on the co-ordinate
where venezuela and iceland meet

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when the mother is the pessimist
and the daughter the optimist
i wanted the arrangement to be a lazerbeam of light
almost blindness from too much brightness
then go so over-the-top encouraging
in the centre of the song
that it would turn up a third !
but also wanted to be honest
about the faults of optimists. ...
"When we*re broken we are whole
and when we’re whole we’re broken
( the shadow of the optimist ?
or the sun of the nihilist ? )
now, who’s the whole one ?
we all play such odd roles sometimes...

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stonemilker was written on a beech next to grótta in 2012.
which is really close to harpa music hall, where we will perform it.
the song for me is cyclical, a big of a mini-fugue,
therefore i asked andy huang who did the video with me
if i could walk around the camera in circles
and include the panorama surrounding it.
there is an emotional attempt in it to be inclusive and with
the circular movement unite all, everything , between 2 people

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