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Skate decks with photos of Björk, Beastie Boys, Sonic Youth & more taken by Spike Jonze

The Björk skateboard deck from Girl. Part of a new series featuring photographs taken by Spike Jonze. Available here.
So far there are five different skate deck designs that are a part of a Photos by Spike collaboration between skateboard company Girl and director Spike Jonze. The boards feature the beyond cool shot of Björk (seen above) taken by Jonze, and another that pays homage to the Beastie Boys who appear in character as seen in the 1994 “Sabotage” video (directed by Jonze) that is forever burnt into our collective consciousness.

All of the decks in the group are quite different looking. Both the Sonic Youth and Nirvana decks utilize black and white photos, while the image of Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs lounging on the bottom of her deck is vibrantly colorful as is the yellow skate deck itself. Jonze’s relationship with Girl goes back to at least 2007 when he co-directed a film on the company, Yeah Right. However, the director’s love of skateboarding goes even further back than that as his very first film, Video Days was about, you guessed it,skateboarding. Each sweet deck will run you about $50. I’ve posted photos of all the decks below for you to see below as well as some footage from Video Days.

The Sabotage deck.

Sonic Youth.
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Watch this essential Björk documentary from 1997
10:38 am



In 1997 The South Bank Show produced an hour-long documentary on Björk, who of course was right in the middle of an impressive run during which she established herself as a global pop star and icon of the first order.

The program is divided up into two parts. The first half is a straightforward account of Björk’s life up to 1997, including her solo album at the age of 11, her teenage work with Tappi Tíkarrass and KUKL, her breakthrough success with the Sugarcubes, and her initial success under her own name, also covering extensively her relationship to her native Iceland.

The second half shows Björk recording her third album Homogenic in southern Spain with Eumir Deodato.

There an interesting bit on the success of the Sugarcubes, which both Einar Örn and Björk herself seem to agree was probably not such a good thing. According to Björk, it may have had an adverse effect on the literary development of Iceland:

Two or even three of the Sugarcubes were probably the most promising poets or writers of Iceland’s new generation. And they were finding themselves… They hadn’t written a letter for two years… because they were doing soundchecks in like Texas and Alabama and playing doing guitar solos. Which is kinda funny. I mean, it is funny. But it’s only funny for so long, you know.

Whoever put this together did an excellent job of showcasing what makes Björk so special. There’s a bit in the first half where she stands next to a fellow playing a harpsichord and belts out “Unravel.” Bono calls her “the Imelda Marcos of good ideas.” In Spain we see her lay down a big chunk of the vocals for “Jóga,” which is kind of amazing.


Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Down the rabbit hole with Björk’s first album, recorded at the age of eleven
KUKL: Björk’s witchy, anarcho-punk, Crass-associated pre-Sugarcubes goth band

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘The Juniper Tree’: A twenty-year-old Björk stars in dark fairy tale of magic and witchcraft
01:14 pm



The Juniper Tree is an austere, black and white 1986 Icelandic art house film based on one of the grimmer of the German fairy tales collected the by Brothers Grimm. The five-member cast includes a then twenty-year-old Björk Guðmundsdóttir. The film wasn’t released until 1990, by which point, of course, the singer was an internationally known artist. It was premiered at the 1990 Sundance Film Festival where it screened for the “Grand Jury Prize.”

The Juniper Tree tells the story of two sisters who have escaped after their mother has been stoned and burned as a witch. Baby-faced Björk plays teenaged Margit, who comes along when her sister bewitches and marries a widower with a young son.

The film is plotted and paced in a manner that demands careful attention. If you just pay it half-mind, you won’t appreciate what it has to offer, but if you give it your undivided attention, it’s quite a fascinating (and skillfully made considering the obviously low budget) little film.

Thank you Linc Kinnicutt!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
See a young Björk rocking out in ‘Rokk í Reykjavík’
06:02 pm



Rokk í Reykjavík is an Icelandic film made for local television in 1982 that seems like a cross between Penelope Spheeris’ The Decline of Western Civilization and Urgh! A Music War. Like Urgh! it’s a steady stream of band after band, nineteen total, some very good, some awful running the gamut from confrontational SoCal-style hardcore to Joy Division and Wire imitators to one group who look just like Loverboy! Like the Decline trilogy there are lots of interviews with incredibly nihilistic youngsters. (One pint-sized Darby Crash wannabe discuses how a meddling social worker made glue sniffing difficult in Reykjavik, but this led them to discover that gas huffing provided an even better high!)

Seen in Rokk í Reykjavík is Tappi Tíkarrass an incredibly tight punk/pop band led by a young (and super cute) Björk Guðmundsdóttir who have a Talking Heads meet B-52s meets ska meets Gang of Four vibe. Their name, should you be wondering, translates as “Cork the Bitch’s Ass!”

Also of note here is Purrkur Pillnikk, the punk band of Björk’s future Sugarcube bandmate Einar Örn Benediktsson. The old man chanting a poem at the start is Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson who was instrumental in forcing the Icelandic government to recognize the country’s pre-Christian Norse religion. Sveinbjörn can be heard performing Ásatrú marriage rites for Genesis and Paula P-Orridge on Psychic TV’s Live in Reykjavik double album.

For me, though, other than seeing the young (and super cute, did I mention that?) Björk in action, it’s the WTF avant garde antics of Bruni BB that steal the entire show. Directed by Friðrik Þór Friðriksson.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
KUKL: Björk’s witchy, anarcho-punk, Crass-associated pre-Sugarcubes goth band
05:47 pm



Considering that most Björk fans seem to know that she began her recording career at the ripe old age of 11, and that she was once a member of The Sugarcubes, it’s curious why more attention hasn’t been paid to KUKL, the group she was in prior to joining Sugarcubes, especially since much of the membership of the two bands overlaps.

KUKL (which means “witchcraft” in Medieval Icelandic) was a sort of Icelandic super-group, comprised of members of several noteworthy bands and formed, at first, to perform on the final episode of a radio program in August 1983. The following month, KUKL played on the same bill with Crass in Reykjavik, at a punk festival that was the largest crowd that Björk had performed in front of at that point, and made a lasting connection with Crass.

KUKL released both The Eye, their Georges Bataille-inspired first album and the Penny Rimbaud-produced Holidays in Europe (The Naughty Nought) through Crass Records. Although their personal politics, in the main, were sympatico with the UK anarcho-punk movement’s ethos—the Icelanders remained dedicated meat eaters—their music was dissimilar, owing more to acts like The Cure, Killing Joke or Siouxsie and The Banshees and incorporating primitivist ethnographic and free jazz-influenced elements. Like Throbbing Gristle, KUKL took to the stage infrequently, preferring to wait until the time was right and their energy was at its fullest potential, with each show having an element of magic intentionally thrown into the mix.

During 1985, KUKL occasionally played at higher profile Europe concerts, opening for the likes of Einstürzende Neubauten and Psychic TV. Along with The Virgin Prunes, The Mantis Dance Company, writer Kathy Acker and others, they performed at Psychic TV’s “Feast of the Flowering Light” event at the Hammersmith Palais, but in 1986 KUKL split with most of the members going on to reform as The Sugarcubes a few months later.

KUKL left behind a handful of fascinating music videos:


A very pregnant Björk and KUKL on Icelandic television for an extended live performance in 1986.

More KUKL after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Down the rabbit hole with Björk’s first album, recorded at the age of eleven
10:35 am



Most intense Björk fans will know all of this information, but it was new to me and I found it pretty interesting. In 1977, at the age of 11, Björk released a self-titled album in Iceland that achieved moderate success. For some reason gave it a very dismissive review—“Novelty value can only carry an album so far ... [it] will probably not be enough to keep you laughing, or interested for the duration”—but to my ears it holds up quite well. It reminds a little bit of ABBA.

More interestingly, to a surprising degree it puts Bjork’s solo career starting in 1993 into perspective. The first song,“Arabadrengurinn (The Arab Boy),” prominently features the sitar, the four covers on the album are well chosen, and you can pretty much draw a straight line from the show-tunes-y “Himnaför” to, say, the bombast of “It’s Oh So Quiet” or the standards of Gling-Gló.

I’m not saying that Björk is a mature work or even that Björk herself had that much to do with what songs were chosen and how they were arranged. What I’m saying is that when you record a really eclectic pop album that ranges all over the map when you’re eleven, it might serve as a clue that your later eclectic pop albums that range all over the map didn’t exactly come out of nowhere. Björk has had a musical career all of her life—she never really stopped recording in her teen years—and the only point worth making here is that there is far more continuity from Björk to Debut than discontinuity.

Oh, and the songs are pretty well executed and fun to listen to. So there’s that.

Okay. Chronology. Björk got started as a musician when a teacher of hers submitted a recording in which she sang Tina Charles’s song “I Love to Love” to RÚV, the only radio station in Iceland at the time.

Here’s Björk’s version:

Tina Charles’ version, for comparison:

A few years ago someone named Thomas Rinnan decided to find out more about Björk. Here are his findings:

Björk Guðmundsdóttir (literally ‘Gudmund’s daughter’) was born on 21st October 1966, in Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik. From the age of six until she was 14, she attended a local music school, where she studied the classics, and learned to play the flute and the piano. The family home was a hippy commune, with a steam of artists and musicians among the constant human traffic. Björk’s stepfather, Saevar Arnason, was himself a guitarist, and played in a band called Pops, recreating Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and “all that hippy music”. This bohemian atomsphere laid down a firm musical grounding for Björk’s future vocation, and provided a stepping stone to the first, and most remarkable, aspect of her recording career: an eponymously titled solo album, released in Iceland in 1977.

Documentation about this record is scant. Although Björk often alludes to it, precise details are hard to come by. And with the singer on a promotionaly tour of Japan and Australia at the time of writing, I turned to one of the few people with first-hand knowledge of this early release: Hildur Hauksdóttir—Björk’s mum.

“The record came about when Björk was at school,” revealed Hildur, on the phone from Reykjavik. “They used to have an open house every week where the kids had to entertain, read aloud and things like that. Björk sang a song called ‘I Love To Love’. She was born musical. She started to sing very early. She started singing melodies around seven months old.” Björk’s teachers were sufficiently impressed with her redition of Tina Charles’ U.K. No.1 from February 1976, to take the budding starlet along to Iceland’s Radio 1, then the contry’s only national broadcasting organisation, who in turn seemed only too pleased to play the song on air.

“After that she was offered a record deal by a label called Fálkkin,” continues Hildur. “I knew two musicians here, Palmi Gunnarsson, a bass player and singer, and Sigurdur Karlsson a drummer, and they had already recorded some songs with Björk. We worked on the recordat the Hljdrijinn Studios in Reykjavik. Palmi and Siggi brought in some of the best players in Iceland. After that first record with all thouse grown-ups, she only ever worked with oeioke her own age.” Among the other musicians on “Björk” was stepfather Sævar Arnason, and Björgvin Gíslason, one of Iceland’s most acclaimed guitarists. Björk would return the favour several years later when she sang on the track “Afi” on Gíslason’s 1983 LP, “Örugglega”.

The “Björk” album was released in time for Christmas 1977, with a cover designed by Hildur, and photographed at a local Reykjavik studio. In contrast to precocious recordings by singing kids like Lena Zavaroni, the tone of “Björk” mercifully falls short of the little-madam-wearing-mummy’s-make-up image(although who knows what she’s singing about!). Producers Gunnarsson and Karlsson constructed a perfect listenable, mid-70s pop album (albeit one sung by an 11-year old), which mixed a handful of standard Icelandic pop tunes, and a Björk orginal - the instrumental “Jóhannes Kjaval” (a tribute to a celebrated Icelandic painter)—with covers of Melanie’s “Christopher Robin” (with a decent approximation of Mel’s vocal growl), Stevie Wonder’s “Your Kiss Is Sweet”, Edgar Winter’s “Alta Mira” and the Beatles’ “Fool On The Hill” ( translated as “Álfur Út Úr Hól”!). Despite her tender age, Björk managed to press her personality into the grooves, and this, her real debut, is as much her own record as it is her producer’s.

Perhaps succumbing toa little of the mythmaking which is an inevitable side- effect of stardom, Björk has recently maintained that the album went platinum in Iceland, indicating that she became an instant celebrity. Her mum is not so sure. “I have no idea!” replied Hildur, when asked how many copies “Björk” sold. “It’s sold out today, I know that. And they are playing it on the radio now in Iceland! But at the time, she was not exactly what you’d call famous. In Iceland it’s different from elsewhere. It’s such a small place, everybody knows each other already. But the record didn’t separate her from school or anything.” And what became of the Fálkinn label? “They have stopped making their own records. They only sell others’ records now, and bicycles”.

After the jump, the ten songs off of Björk’s 1977 album and the originals of the four songs she covered…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Punk As Fuck’: A film on the powerful & iconic photography of Steve Gullick

‘A good photograph,’ says Steve Gullick, ‘is one that looks great, one that captures an interesting moment in time, one that tells a story, or in the case of a portrait, offers an insight into the subject.’

This is could be a description of Gullick’s own photographs—his beautiful, inky black portraits that are amongst the most recognizable and iconic images of the past twenty years.

Gullick was influenced ‘Mainly by the dark imagery of Don McCullin and Bill Brandt. I tried to infuse my photos with a similar drama—I spent all of my spare time in the darkroom working on getting good.

‘It was more difficult with color but when I started printing my own color stuff in the late 1990’s I was able to match the intensity of my black & white work.

These photographs have captured succeeding generations of artists and musicians from Kurt Cobain, Nirvana, Nick Cave, Patti Smith, Depeche Mode, Foo Fighters, Bjork, The Prodigy, through to Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Richard Hawley

‘Photography is magic. The ability to capture something forever that looks interesting to you is magnificent.’

Now an exhibition of his work Punk as Fuck: Steve Gullick 90-93 is currently running at Indo, 133 Whitechapel Road, London, until 31st March, and is essential viewing for anyone with a serious interest in photography, music and art

To coincide with the exhibition, film-maker Joe Watson documented some of Steve’s preparation for the show, and interviewed him about the stories behind his photographs.

For more information about Punk as Fuck and a selection of Gullick’s brilliant work check his website.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Björk, the Little Golden Book
05:07 pm


Little Golden Books

This 11″x17″  Little Golden Book-style painting of Björk was done for an independent record store by Mike R. Baker. According to Baker’s site, there are prints available.

Via Hey Oscar Wilde!


Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment