You’d think that after 30 years in the studio someone would be giving an artist like Björk the production credits she deserves. But, in a interview with Pitchfork this week, the iconic Icelandic musician said that she’s been denied due credit ever since she began recording at age 11.
Björk, 60th on the Rolling Stones “100 Greatest Singers of All Time”, 29th on VH1’s “100 Greatest Women in Music”, the deep-rooted influential and sought after producer of most things electronic, house, jazz, trip-hop, rock, classical, experimental, and avant-guarde, still struggles to cut through the noise of publicity and popularity of her own music to receive the proper credit due to her from the media.
“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; [Arca] had never done an album when I worked with him. He wanted to put something on his own Twitter, just to say it’s co-produced. I said, “No, we’re never going to win this battle. Let’s just leave it.” But he insisted.”
Making the comparison to herself and Kanye she points to a wider trend in music where women in general are not getting proper credit, not necessarily on the by-line of a song, but in the press and wider media. Whereas Kanye spends a majority of his time working with multiple producers “no one would question his authorship for a second,” whereas those such as Grimes are “…tired of men who aren’t professional or even accomplished musicians continually offering to ‘help me out’ (without being asked), as if i did this by accident and i’m gonna flounder without them. or as if the fact that I’m a woman makes me incapable of using technology. I have never seen this kind of thing happen to any of my male peers,” or Solange Knowles, “…find it very disappointing when I am presented as the “face” of my music, or a “vocal muse” when I write or co-write every fucking song.”
This phenomenon stretches across each and every genre – Taylor Swift, Neko Case, Joni Mitchell, the list of female artists to whom popular credit is given to the man in the room is long and depressing. Prejudice is usually placed on the idea that it’s man with a guitar, at a mixing console, producing, and being the mastermind, whereas the female is the woman in a sparkly outfit and a pop-star.
Björk is widely known for taking young up and coming artists under her wing and doing anything she can to make sure struggling artists get the recognition they deserve. Tanya Tagaq, Heidi Kilpeläinen, Ólöf Arnalds, Micachu, have all recently benefited from the interest and attention garnered from Björk. However, it may be the attention that Björk brings to the issue of, what we’re going to call, “proper popular credit” which may be her most pronounced work yet.
Her new record Vulnicura does not necessarily address this issue, but I think the straw may have broken the camel’s back on this one. After reading the interview, it sounds like Björk may be finally pissed about this – and if anybody has the ability to bring this to the forefront of the conversation when it comes to giving proper popular credit to female artists where it is due.
“Everything that a guy says once, you have to say five times.” Unfortunately, this tends to be true even for someone as accomplished as Björk.