Featured Music

Fossora: Bjork is Back With a Brilliantly Bonkers New Album

Fossora is the Icelandic legend’s 10th album, and it seems like her creative juices are flowing better than ever!

“First you create a universe with sound, then you move into it,” says Bjork to NME, when discussing the creative process for the new album. Fossora, her 10th studio album release, dropped on all major streaming platforms last week. And, it’s an impressive piece of work, which feels like a completely fresh and unique record, but also like a continuation of her otherworldly discography. 

Bjork Fossora artwork
Bjork (Pitchfork)

According to interviews that Bjork has conducted throughout the press release circuit, Fossora was birthed out of lockdown. “I did have a wonderful period for two years, which is the longest I’ve been in Iceland without once having to go to an airport since I was 16,” she says. “That was pretty cool. It was a really good feeling, physically – that sense of just shooting down roots out of my feet and getting grounded.” Whilst many people had a difficult time dealing with the pandemic, Bjork is appreciative to have been surrounded by beautiful nature and fresh air, something which has no doubt influenced the theme of Fossora.

Fossora is Bjorks first album in 5 years. The last album, Utopia, arrived with critical acclaim and was even nominated for the Best Alternative Album at the Grammys. Utopia was produced by Bjork herself, alongside Venezulenan powerhouse producer, Arca. Now 56, Bjork appears to show no sign of slowing down, as she treats her work as a passion project. But, whilst in the twilight of her career, Bjork does acknowledge that its time to do things a little differently, “I’ve said no to a lot of Hollywood shit, where I’ve been really flattered to be asked but it just didn’t feel right,” she said when asked by NME about her unfondness of the glamorous US music scene. “I didn’t know any of those people and it was just weird,” she continues. 

Bjork first burst out onto the music scene in 1993, with her debut album, ironically titled, Debut. Since then, she has released a further 9 bodies of work, all with one-word titles. In between, Bjork has flirted with film and has starred in a number of movies. Probably the most well-known of Bjork’s films was Dancer in the Dark (2000) – an Lars von Trier film, which won Bjork the award for Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival. This April, Bjork returned to the big screen, where she played Seeress, in the Viking thriller, The Northman. There is no end to Bjork’s immense talent. 

Bjork Fossora
Bjork (NME)

But for now, Bjork is returning to her safe space, music, which has actually helped Bjork get through a traumatic personal event. “For everybody, to lose a parent is a cornerstone of your life,” she said, discussing the death of her mother. ‘Sorrowful Soil’ was written as she started to get seriously ill, so it’s sadder. ‘Ancestress’ was written after she passed away so it’s more like a celebration of her life. I like when you hear about Mexican and Irish people who want to celebrate someone’s life when they pass away.” 

Bjork is notorious for her ability to shock the listener into an overwhelming array of bizarre sounds. However, Fossora is a deeply personal and grounded album, and for that reason alone, it’s a tad more accessible and relatable. But don’t get too complacent, as Fossora is far from radio-friendly. Bjork is on her own wavelength, and we wouldn’t have her any other way. 

Featured Music

ShyGirl: The South London Rapper Carving Out An Experimentalist Niche

Is ShyGirl posied to be Britain’s next musical export?

For 6 years now, hip-hop experimentalist ShyGirl has been drip-feeding us banger after banger, building up hype for the release of upcoming album, ‘Nymph’. As the record drop approaches, ShyGirl is edging into a more electronic, industrial and hyper-pop sound. But who is ShyGirl, and why is she one to watch this Autumn?

ShyGirl Press image
ShyGirl (DJ Mag)

Born in Blackheath, London, ShyGirl discovered her passion for music whilst studying at the University of Bristol. While a student, she would frequently travel back to London to attend wild underground parties, which has no doubt influenced her boundary-pushing sound. Recent singles, like BDE featuring SlowThai, had clear sexual themes. And, in a recent interview with the Guardian, ShyGirl elaborates on their reasoning for the filthy lyricism: “I love it when art makes me uncomfortable because I have to question where that’s from.” She continues: “How can something affect my equilibrium like that? I want to affect other people’s equilibrium.” And the hyper-pop elements certainly help achieve this effect, as the industrial sounds stun the listener. The inconsistencies shock and keep you guessing as to what’s coming next. In order to appreciate and enjoy, you need to surrender to the track, and let ShyGirl take you by the hand to a raunchy 3 minutes of escapism. 

“I’m talking about frustration,” says ShyGirl, whilst discussing the sexual dynamics in their lyrics. “A lot of stuff is me turning situations around and putting myself in the position of the aggressor or the user when actually it was me that was being used. I’m reclaiming something that I could not claim in the moment, saying: by hook or by crook, I’m gonna get what I want.” ShyGirl’s confidence in herself and her art is part of the huge appeal of the music. Although sex positivity is a good thing, it’s currently being exploited by the music industry for commercial value. ShyGirl moves beyond the ‘it’s okay to be beautiful no matter your size’ approach and is getting into the nitty gritty of what sex positivity is. And, ShyGirl wants you to know that it’s more than just your body image, rather it’s a feeling, a power dynamic, psychology. 

ShyGirl press image
ShyGirl (Standard)

ShyGirl is part of a growing collection of experimental artists carving out their own progressive version of popular music. Hyerpop, which is synonymous with an artistically minded queer community, is often associated with the likes of producer, Sophie, Charli XCX, 100 Gecs and AG Cook – all of which have worked with ShyGirl at some point over her career. But ShyGirl is hesitant to label herself as hyper pop, and so, aims to distance herself from having this label. “I don’t really see it as a genre, to be honest,” She says in an interview with Rolling Stones Magazine. “I feel like it’s not specific enough, and music just isn’t [genre-bound] anymore. I just think of it more as a playlist. The genre is less so about the music and more about image and the way you fit in socially and with your fanbase. [My music] crosses genres so much, but for the algorithm, it’s definitely easier to say Hyperpop.”

ShyGirl’s debut album, ‘Nymph’ arrives next month on all streaming platforms. Hip-hop and hyper-pop artists/friends, Sega Bodega and Arca are also featured on the project. ShyGirl is one to watch. Check out one of the lead singles ‘Come For Me’ on Spotify now.