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BJÖRK UNRAVELLED

Demystifying Björk's music, one piece at a time

 
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ABOUT

Bjork Unravelled is the podcast that every Bjork fan can share with their skeptic friends and say, “See? She's not that weird.” 

 

Season 1 is a primer for Bjork beginners. Each episode picks apart a different facet of her music to show that her music isn’t “unlistenable” or “esoteric.” It’s for everyone.

Season 2 follows a slightly different format. Each episode analyzes the intersection of Bjork and a specific social movement, community, or idea, through fan interviews and original analysis.

 

New episodes every other Thursday.

 
 

EPISODES

101

Will the real Björk please stand up?

Who is Björk? A mysterious woman in a swan dress? An Icelandic weirdo? A musical genius?   Does the pop culture version of Björk hold any truth — or is Björk is just playing us? In this episode, we'll get to know the "real" Björk. We'll discuss her childhood, her early career, and yes, even that one time she attacked a reporter. We'll sort fact from fiction, discard the stereotypes, and discover how Björk sees herself.

102

Björk: the first genre-bender?

When Björk released her first album, Debut — a record that sampled a different musical style in nearly every song — the music world took note. Her chameleon-like ability to adapt to any genre, and then make it her own, set Björk apart from other artists. So in this episode, I’ll talk about how Björk bends genre and why it matters.

103

Unlocking the full Björk-estra

One of the most common complaints I hear about Björk’s music is her voice.

Here I’ll explore how Björk’s vocals add texture and depth to her songs — specifically in her third studio album, Homogenic. I’ll discuss three songs from that album with my sister Marisa (who introduced me to Björk's work) to understand how her unusual vocals are integral to her music.

104

For the love of Selma

Björk has a superpower that the best musicians do: she can create a character to tell a compelling musical story. One of Björk's characters is Selma, whom she played in the 2000 film Dancer in the Dark. She said that the soundtrack she created for the film was her gift to Selma. 

Examining how these songs bring Selma to life demonstrates Björk’s brilliance as a storyteller — something that I think any film score fan or even country fan can appreciate. So in this episode we’re going to explore the rich interior world of Selmasongs.

105

Beats by Björk

Although Björk took a very active role in producing her records, she often didn't receive full credit for her work. That’s why I want to spend some time with a record that shows Björk's painstaking attention to detail as a producer: Vespertine. My sister Natalie and I will examine it in detail to show why Björk isn’t just a talented vocalist or composer, but a pioneer in music production.

106

1 + 1 = 3

In an interview with Jefferson Hack in 2017, he asked Björk if her collaborative spirit stems from her punk rock origins. She said that it might, but she’s also found that the key to successful collaborations is taking care of your individual creative goals so that you can feel open to another artist’s perspective.  She described this idea as "1 + 1 = 3" — if both artists find common ground, they can create something greater than their two halves.  So in this episode I'm going to explore that equation through a few of my favorite collaborations Björk has done. 

107

Björk to the future

A recurring theme in Björk's music is the intersection of humanity and technology.

Here I'll talk about how Björk’s music intersects with technology and science. I'll start with Biophilia and trace its evolution into the even more expansive Björk Digital exhibit — to show how she uses technology to transform the way we experience music.

BONUS

Great Expectations

If you listened to the trailer of this series, then you know that I created Björk Unravelled to persuade my friend Carter to give Björk's music a chance. And — it worked!
In this episode, Carter and I will reflect on this season and hear how his mindset shifted along the way. How exactly did he go from being confused to enthusiastic? 

BONUS

Underrated Björk songs with The Björk Collector

For this episode I teamed up with Elijah Flores. You may know him as @thebjorkcollector on Instagram. Elijah’s collection is comprehensive. He has purchased every Björk release since Debut and is familiar with even the most obscure parts of her career. So I wanted to bring him on the show to talk about some lesser known, or maybe just underrated songs in her discography.

He’ll share 10 of his picks here, and I’ll add a few of my own. We’ll start chronologically with her work in The Sugarcubes and conclude around the Medulla period.

BONUS

Björk + astrology with Sachi the Scorpio

Whether you follow it or not, astrology is one of many lenses we can use to better understand Björk and her music. In this episode, I talk with astrologist and Björk fan Sachi the Scorpio to learn how Björk's birth chart informs her music — specifically in the song “Pluto” but also throughout her discography. 

201

Medulla: Björk's most punk record?

Before Debut, before The Sugarcubes… Björk was actually a punk rocker.

Here I’ll look back at Björk's punk roots. We’ll learn about the bands she played with, what those years taught her, and how that punk ethos still resonates — specifically in Medulla.

202

Björk's musical foremother

I can’t do a comprehensive podcast about Björk without tracing her musical forefathers — or in this case foremothers. 

Here I'll focus specifically on Kate Bush’s influence on Björk. I’ll draw connections between their careers and their music to better understand Björk's place in the family of musical greats. And through it all, I’ll explain how Bush paved the way for Björk's success in the UK.

203

The swan in the room (with Techno Prayer)

In this episode, I'm joined by Federico Protto, creator of the Bjork fashion archive Instagram called Techno Prayer. Together we'll discuss five looks from the Bjork fashion archives — including what they look like, who designed them, and why they matter. 

And don’t worry… we will address the swan in the room.

204

Björk vs The World

Björk didn’t want to be seen as a political figure. For her, the music mattered most, and it existed in a sphere beyond the day-to-day squabbles of politics. But there is one issue that activates her: climate change.
In this episode, I’ll trace Björk's progression as a climate activist — from reluctant protester to national leader. And I’ll examine the impact this activism has had on her music and the world.

205

What's in an album cover? (with Björk Songs as Tarot Cards)

Björk's album covers are almost as important as the music. Each one features a character that tells the story of the album; to understand that character is to understand the mood and theme of the songs inside.

Saša Milic, who runs a popular Facebook page called Björk Songs as Tarot Cards, joins me to examine Bjork’s album covers one by one. We’ll decipher the album’s archetype, color palette, and fashion to learn what each cover tells us about the music itself. And Saša will make a few connections to tarot cards along the way.

206

Planet Björk with David Attenborough

While other girls worshipped heart-throbs like David Cassidy or Scott Baio, Björk idolized scientists like Albert Einstein and David Attenborough.

Here I'll explore the scientific mind of Björk by taking a deeper dive into Biophilia. I’ll discuss the documentary she made about it with Attenborough. And I’ll share how that documentary changed my perspective on Biophilia.

Because I was wrong. Very wrong.

207

Björk's gloriously weird music videos (with Isobel)

Björk elevated the music video to an art form. She was experimenting with AR filters before Instagram. She was making robots fall in love before Westworld. And as I mentioned in the last episode, one of her music videos was specifically commissioned by a modern art museum. 

Isobel (creator of the Björk fan page @mynameisobelpage) and I will talk about ten videos you should watch — or rewatch — and why.

208

My Björk pilgrimage

I’ve been making this podcast for over a year now, and I’ve been a fan of Björk for much longer than that. But there was one aspect of her music I hadn’t experienced… I’d never seen her live.

Then on a Sunday morning in early October, I got a message from a listener named Jose... that changed everything.

In this episode, I’ll share my pilgrimage to Reykjavik for the second Björk Orkestral show. I’ll describe the places from Björk's life and career that I visited, how these places helped me to better understand and appreciate her music… And, most importantly, I’ll give you a full recap of her performance with the Hamrahlið Choir at Harpa. I even got to interview a few members of the choir, so be sure to listen to the end to hear what it’s like to perform with Björk.

209

Björk breaks her silence

It’s difficult to believe that the artist who wrote Utopia… didn’t always identify as a feminist.

But everything changed when Björk gave birth to her daughter, Isadora.

Here I’ll explore Björk’s feminist journey through three generations of women. I’ll start with her mother’s feminist roots, examine Björk’s rebellion against those values, and conclude with her feminist awakening through Isadora.

And through it all, we’ll discover why Björk finally spoke up.

210

10 Björk songs that are better live

Part of the magic of seeing Björk perform live comes from wondering how she’ll reinvent her songs on this tour, on this night. Björk seems to know this herself because she’s released a live record for nearly every studio album.

Superfan Chris Rodamado (@chrisrodamado) and I will talk about ten songs that hit different in-person. We’ll hear picks from six listeners, and then Chris will add four picks of his own. By the end of it, you’ll understand why you haven’t lived as a Björk fan until you’ve seen her live.

211

LGBTQ plus Björk

There’s this quote from Björk that has become sort of a meme among her fans. She says that her average listener is a gay man from Mexico. And whether or not that’s accurate, it definitely captures a larger truth: For many, Björk is a queer icon. But why? 

Björk fan Ahmed Abuzaid (who suggested this topic) and I will discover the answer. I interviewed about a dozen Björk Unravelled listeners. You’ll hear, in their own words, why they identify with her music. And by the end of it, you’ll understand how Björk's music helps them, and other LGBTQ+ fans, feel safe… and feel seen.

BONUS

Björk's new album, and other mysteries

Björk is a woman of mystery. She gives her fans just enough to satisfy them — and withholds just enough to keep them guessing.

Some of these rumors have been resolved with time, but there’s still a long list of unreleased projects we haven’t gotten closure on.

Superfan Gabriel Lucas and I will discuss five of those projects that we never got to hear. We’ll talk about the glimpses of each that give us an idea of what they may have sounded like. And we’ll conclude with the biggest mystery of all: Björk's next album.

CORNUCOPIA
MINI SERIES

Entering the world of Cornucopia

Björk's Cornucopia was never an ordinary tour; it's a theatrical production.

And in this episode, I’ll share that production with you. I’ll start with the history of the tour, describe the magical audiovisual journey Björk takes you on, and conclude with a conversation with Alexander Lloyd Blake — the director of Tonality (@ourtonality), the choir that performed with Björk for these California shows.

CORNUCOPIA
MINI SERIES

Björk's chamber of secrets (with Shane Myrbeck)

Sound architect Shane Myrbeck reveals the true purpose of the reverb chamber in Cornucopia and walks us through the design process. He talks about the buildings that inspired it, what it was like to collaborate with Björk, and how at one point they even considered making the chamber… a dress.

CORNUCOPIA
MINI SERIES

Flute dancers in the dark (with Margrét Bjarnadóttir)

Margrét Bjarnadóttir — choreographer of the "Utopia" music video, Utopia tour, and Cornucopia tour — discusses how her work on "Utopia" laid the foundation for the Cornucopia tour. She walks us through how she developed the choreography (without compromising the flutists’ ability to play or breathe) and how these movements compliment the music.

Plus, she’ll explain why she thinks Björk is the consummate collaborator.

CORNUCOPIA
MINI SERIES

Lighting designer Bruno Poet joins me to talk about how he used light to compliment the music of Cornucopia, why he thinks artists love collaborating with Björk, and why “Sue Me”... was all yellow.

The luminous beams of Cornucopia (with Bruno Poet)

CORNUCOPIA
MINI SERIES

Utopia brought to life (with Chiara Stephenson)

Stage designer Chiara Stephenson talks about how she brought Björk's sci-fi, utopian world to life in Cornucopia. She’ll discuss the natural forms that influenced the stage design, the intention behind the veils used in the show, and why working with Björk inspired Chiara to trust her instincts.