Björk Gudmunsdottir is honest about what is hers:
"All I have is intuition."
Her intuition, then, has served her well, putting her additionally into the centre of criticism and debate.
She reminisces: "I was on television when I was very pregnant. I was nineteen with my stomach sticking out. And the Icelandic television had never got so many complaints. People called, wrote letters and were angry, and one woman got a heart attack. So it can be dangerous to do what you want."
Well, call her dangerous, because Björk has done exactly what she wanted for almost twenty years. Her sound and image are a tug of war between the clear and the cluttered.
On any typical day, we can invariably find Björk with consciously messy hair, arms outstretched, hyper yet focused eyes, knees locked, feet uncomfortably turned out, a bright collage of clothing lending a fruit basket with an attitude look.
Björk was frustrated with how little input she had in her first album's production, and spent her teenage years swinging between punk bands before settling with the Sugarcubes. She describes this experience as "magical". But though the six friends loved each other dearly, they struggled to maintain a musical passion, and Björk separated from the band after six years.
Björk paints an innocent picture of her album Debut: "For me, it was very much like the songs I had kept in darkness and locked in my little diary, only to be seen by myself." These songs were written in the evenings, after she put her son Sundri to bed. They are secretive and anticipatory, as relayed in the song, "Big Time Sensuality":
"And I know I'm a bit too intimate/ But something huge is coming up/ And we're both included/ It takes courage to enjoy it/ The hardcore and the gentle/ Big time sensuality."
Björk left Iceland (she was born in Reykjavík on November 21st, 1965), and her love life to move to London, and her 1995 "divorce" album followed. Most critics judged "Post" to be a worthy successor to "Debut", finding it complex and ambitious, ignoring conventions of form and proving that Björk's work went deeper than exotic charm. Björk was deeply offended at criticisms that the album was too electronic. "If I hear one more person who comes up to me and complains that 'computer-music has no soul' then I will go furious, you know. 'Cause of course the computer is just a tool. And if there is no soul in computer-music, then it's because nobody put it there, and that's not the computer’s role."
In 1997, Björk released "Homogenic". While still retaining her characteristic whisper-to-shriek vocal style, the album was less commercial and less melodic. Yet it was emotionally fragile, darker and more textured than her first two albums. Wiser than the orange-haired girl of her youth, she comments, "The more discipline you have, the more freedom you have."
Her playful yet controlled sensibility breeds an innovative musician, whose quirks are simply part of her talent.