Bjork Cleans Out The Attic

Excerpted from the magazine for

A very pregnant Bjork says she never listens to her old recordings. "I prefer to move on. For me, it's always been about looking ahead, the future, the new, and the unexpected."

But with the simultaneous Nov. 5 One Little Indian/Elektra releases of "Bjork's Greatest Hits" and the six-disc box set "Family Tree" (issued one day earlier overseas), Bjork has had to look back. She's had to step back in time and revisit the numerous songs that have defined who she is as an artist.

"What amazed me most was all the hard work and memories," Bjork notes, referring to the compiling and emotional process of researching her musical journey for "Family Tree." "It was a new experience for me to listen to much of this music."

Packaged in a custom-made transparent rose-colored plastic case (designed by Parisian design outfit M/M) -- and containing illustrations and photos by Icelandic artist Gabriella Fridriksdottir -- "Family Tree" comprises six CDs (five 3-inch discs and one 5-inch disc) of the artist's favorite songs, many of which were previously unreleased. The tracks, Bjork says, are from "my entire career," not just her solo career.

According to Bjork each disc included in the "self-indulgent" box set has its own theme: roots and strings (both comprising two discs each), beats, and her own handpicked greatest hits.

"In one sense, it was very weird to rediscover this music," she acknowledges. "At the same time, it was something I needed to do. It shows how I got from there to here, it shows my learning curves, it shows how I've developed as a musician."

To compile "Family Tree," which includes a 16-page lyric book and a "family tree map," Bjork says she spent six months digging through her archives. While it didn't feel like hard work at the time, Bjork admits, "it was hard work listening to my old recordings, kind of like doing homework."

Conversely, the "hits" featured on "Bjork's Greatest Hits" were selected by fans who voted for their favorite Bjork songs at the artist's official Web site ( as well as at

The disc, which culls moments from her four solo albums ("Debut," "Post," "Homogenic," and "Vespertine"), is home to gems like "Hyperballad," "Venus as a Boy," and "Hidden Place." It also includes one new song -- "It's in Our Hands," produced by Bjork and Matmos -- that the singer previewed during last year's Vespertine tour.

Because of the imminent arrival of her second child, Bjork will not be touring anytime soon. Instead, while awaiting her arrivals, she'll be able to reflect on the past, the present, and the future. "For me, working on 'Family Tree' was like spring cleaning, complete with nostalgic, boring, and mushy moments," Bjork says. "But ultimately, it was liberating to have an absolutely clean attic. Now, I have a brand-new chalkboard on which to work."

Excerpted from the Sept.28, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the members section.

For information on ordering a copy of the issue, click here.