Is it possible to preserve the natural salmon population in Iceland? Björk shares a previously unreleased song to raise awareness about the negative effects of fish farming.
According to Icelandic singer Björk, the fish farming industry in Iceland is driven by individuals seeking quick financial gain at the expense of nature. In response, she released a “lost” song to raise awareness and combat the growing controversy surrounding this practice.
During a conversation with Guardian Seascape, she stated that artists are often the first to notice environmental crises as they are inherently attuned to their surroundings.
Björk’s latest song features a collaboration with Catalan pop sensation Rosalía and draws inspiration from a recording she made twenty years ago, which she recently rediscovered in March.
The couple will give the earnings to activists who are against the practice of industrial salmon farming in Iceland. This issue has gained attention due to reports of numerous instances of large numbers of fish escaping into the natural habitat.
Björk described the recently uncovered song as “unusual,” mentioning that it was originally recorded approximately two decades ago during her thirties. She admitted, “I was taken aback – the rhythm was quite basic, but I suppose I was somewhat influenced by Jamaican dancehall music.”
She wanted to utilize it for the betterment of the environment, which is her passion. She requested Rosalía’s assistance in modernizing it for present-day listeners, with Sega Bodega as the producer.
Björk explained that in order to revive the song for an environmental event in 2023, they would need to find a guest who embodies the current moment. She noted that dancehall is the precursor to reggaeton, and when she listened to it, she was reminded of Rosalía’s album, which features a lot of reggaeton. Knowing Rosalía’s passion and desire to take action, Björk believes she was enthusiastic about the opportunity to make a positive impact on the environment.
According to Björk, many artists become environmentalists due to their heightened sensitivity and ability to pick up on environmental issues. She compares them to canaries in a coal mine, constantly monitoring their surroundings and feeling the need to take action when an emergency arises.
Björk announced on Instagram that she supports the fight against fish farming in Seyðisfjörður. She plans to use the proceeds from her song sales to assist with the legal fees of those who are protesting, and hopes it will set an example for others to follow.
Björk argued that the practice of industrial salmon farming has caused significant harm to both wild animals and the farmed fish themselves, as they are subjected to unhealthy living conditions. Furthermore, the escape of many farmed salmon has resulted in genetic changes that could potentially threaten the survival of Icelandic salmon.
However, when speaking to the Guardian, she made it clear that the song was not intended as a protest. “It’s not meant to be an activist song,” she explained. “It’s a love song, not a commentary on fish.” She then added, “Although one could potentially create a great punk song about that topic.”
She stated, “This is not my most experimental work. I do not consider myself a pop artist. That is why it was not included on my previous albums, Homogenic or Vespertine. It was too sugary for my taste. This is the most pop-like I will ever be. That is why I decided to donate it to a good cause.”
The promotional materials for the song are also available in Spanish, as the artist hopes to inspire other locations to take similar actions. During a conversation, Rosalía shared that fish farming in Argentina and Chile is not successful.
Before committing to the cause, Björk considered three inquiries: Is it possible to halt it? Can we alter it? And can we protect the wild salmon of Iceland? The response to each of these inquiries is affirmative; we are capable of achieving these goals.
She observed that opposition to salmon farming in Iceland had brought together both the political left and right. She characterized the industry as “a few reckless individuals who are motivated by profit and willing to harm the environment.”
Björk has a track record of advocating for environmental causes. In the past, she even cancelled a performance at the Icelandic Airwaves festival to protest against the construction of 50 dams and hydropower plants. Notable figures like David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg have also shown their support for Björk’s work. Attenborough recorded a message about the concept of “biophilia” for an app that accompanied her album of the same name, and Thunberg recorded a message for Björk’s Cornucopia tour in 2019.
In the same year, Björk and Thunberg urged the prime minister of Iceland to officially declare a climate emergency. However, when Katrín Jakobsdóttir failed to do so, Björk criticized her in an interview with The Guardian, stating that she was disappointed after months of planning.
In 2008, Björk collaborated with Radiohead’s Thom Yorke on the release of the song “Náttúra”. All profits from the song were donated to the Náttúra campaign, an organization co-founded by Björk that aims to oppose the development of international-funded aluminum plants in Iceland.
The singer’s mother, Hildur Rúna Hauksdóttir, who died in 2018 after a long illness, also campaigned against the factories and in 2002 went on hunger strike for 23 days to protest.
“We are protectors,” Björk stated. “Our goal is to safeguard nature.”