Björk on being a woman in music: "Everything that a guy says once, you have to say five times"

Björk's latest album, "Vulnicura," was released yesterday

Published January 21, 2015 11:20PM (EST)

        (Wiki Commons \ Zach Klein)
(Wiki Commons \ Zach Klein)

Björk's latest album "Vulnicura"was released on Tuesday -- two months earlier than originally scheduled. This incredibly constructed album -- made fresh off the the dissolution of her partnership with Matthew Barney -- is far more vulnerable than previous works, which dealt largely with more universal concepts.

In a confessional interview with Pitchfork, Björk spoke about heartbreak, creating the new album, motherhood and most strikingly what it's like to be a woman in the music industry. Below are snippets from the interview focused on women in the music industry. (You can read the full piece here. If you're like me and you read it while listening to "Vulicura," godspeed to you. Make sure to have tissues ready.)

On motherhood and women being the glue that hold things together:

"That’s why I was nervous. I’ve never done an album like this. With 'Biophilia' I was being like Kofi Annan—I had to be the pacifist to try to unite the impossible. Maybe that was a strange, personal job between me and myself, to show how overreaching I was being as a woman. The only way I could express that was by comparing it to the universe. If you can make nature and technology friends, then you can make everyone friends; you can make everyone intact. That’s what women do a lot—they’re the glue between a lot of things. Not only artists, but whatever job they do: in the office, or homemakers. 'Biophilia' was like my own personal slapstick joke, showing I had to reach so long—between solar systems—to connect everything. It’s like the end scene in 'Mary Poppins,' when she’s made everyone friends, and the father realizes that kids are more important than money—and [then] she has to leave [crying]. It’s a strange moment. Women are the glue. It’s invisible, what women do. It’s not rewarded as much."

On not being credited equally as a producer or beat-maker:

"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. If whatever I’m saying to you now helps women, I’m up for saying it. For example, I did 80% of the beats on 'Vespertine' and it took me three years to work on that album, because it was all microbeats—it was like doing a huge embroidery piece. Matmos came in the last two weeks and added percussion on top of the songs, but they didn’t do any of the main parts, and they are credited everywhere as having done the whole album. [Matmos’] Drew [Daniel] is a close friend of mine, and in every single interview he did, he corrected it. And they don’t even listen to him. It really is strange."

On being a woman in the music industry:

"I have to say—I got a feeling I am going to win in the long run, but I want to be part of the zeitgeist, too. 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. Girls now are also faced with different problems. I’ve been guilty of one thing: After being the only girl in bands for 10 years, I learned—the hard way—that if I was going to get my ideas through, I was going to have to pretend that they—men—had the ideas. I became really good at this and I don’t even notice it myself. I don’t really have an ego. I’m not that bothered. I just want the whole thing to be good. And I’m not saying one bad thing about the guys who were with me in the bands, because they’re all amazing and creative, and they’re doing incredible things now. But I come from a generation where that was the only way to get things done. So I have to play stupid and just do everything with five times the amount of energy, and then it will come through."

By Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email

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Björk Cool Culture Heartbreak Motherhood Music Vulnicura