Björk's seventh full-length album Biophilia, a multi-media project pairing 10 songs with corresponding iPad Apps, is her most conceptually complex. Track titles read like captions in a textbook -- "Moon," "Thunderbolt," "Virus," the first single "Crystalline" -- but each piece is filtered through Björk's personal connection to, and reading of, nature and Musicology. The album title, inspired by a reading of Oliver Sachs' Musicophilia two years ago, suggests these personal strands. "I enjoyed the book," Björk says. "Because I’m not really good in English, I said, 'oh wow, [Biophilia] could be a title for the project,' but 'Bio' thinking 'Nature.' Later somebody told me it means 'love of life.' I was more thinking 'nature-like' or 'morphing into nature.' My bad sense of English thought it was feeling up nature or something -- Biofeelingup."
After the ongoing financial crisis left a number of abandoned spaces in Reykjavik, Björk first envisioned the album as 'Music House' in Iceland. "I thought maybe I should do a Music House where I can make use of these empty buildings," she explains. "Each song could be a room: Here’s the crystal room and here’s the lightning room and here’s the water-drop moon room ... and the staircase could be like little notes, like scales. I was like, I just have to suggest an exchange, we could set up the museum in a house and they could get to keep what we made."
Björk plans to instruct children how to use (and create with) Biophilia, possibly shifting Musicology in the process. She'll gather scientists and musicians to offer a series of intense classes in various cities, countering the music classes she attended from the age of 5 to 15 "After 15 I rebelled and became a punk, or whatever," she laughs. "[As a kid] I felt it was really weird that music schools behaved like a conveyor belt to make performers for those symphony orchestras: If you were really good and practiced your violin for a few hours a day for 10 years you might be invited to this VIP elite club. For me music was not about that. It is about freedom and expression and individuality and impulsiveness and spontaneity. It wasn’t so Apollonian, it was more Dionysian. Especially for kids. Kids draw masterpieces -- they’re the best painters ever. I think the same with music: They could totally write amazing music if they just had the right tools. It's important at that age to set up something ... and then maybe afterwards you can go study your violin for 500 hours a week. But at least in the beginning you know about the options."
Outside the Apps, the classes, and concepts, Biophilia can be experienced as just a record. "I did think as well," Björk says. "If somebody would hear this album in ten years, buy it in a secondhand store, it would be the same as my other albums. You wouldn’t need the App to appreciate it. This, for me, is a Bjork album; it’s not a bunch of generated music, ambient wishy-washy stuff. I guess it is like a private joke or something; I enjoy to take on my own musical taboos. For example when I did, Medulla, it was taboo for me: A capella music, the worst music on earth, let’s tackle that! Then on Volta: Oh, the worst music in the world is
feminist political music, you know? Then I went there: "Declare Independence!" Now I´m taking on generative music, that’s all in pastel colors, it’s kind of superficial. It’s me doing that. It’s like a joke between me and myself, you know? It just seems like a recipe for disaster to do an App song. And I enjoy that challenge!"