Björk Guömundsdóttir (born November 21, 1965 in Reykjavík, Iceland), known as Björk, is an Icelandic singer-songwriter, composer, actress and music producer, whose work includes three albums as lead singer of the alternative rock band the Sugarcubes, seven solo albums, and two film soundtracks, contributing to countless others including the 1994 film Léon, in which "Venus As A Boy" was featured.
She is best known for her expressive vocals, broad soprano vocal range, and a diverse and eclectic musical style, which incorporates influences from many different genres, including pop, alternative rock, jazz, ambient, avant-garde, electronic, classical, folk and trip hop, as well as her eccentric costumes and music videos. Her singles "It's Oh So Quiet", "Army of Me" and "Hyperballad" all charted in the UK Top 10.
Her record label, One Little Indian, reported in 2003 that she had sold more than 15 million albums worldwide. She has been nominated for 13 Grammy Awards, an Academy Award and two Golden Globe Awards (including one for acting). For her performance in Dancer in the Dark, Björk won the Best Actress Award at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival. She was ranked #36 on VH1's "The 100 Greatest Women in Rock and Roll", #8 on MTV's "22 Greatest Voices in Music" and Metacritic listed her as the 10th best reviewed "Indie/Alternative Artist" of the 2000-09 decade. Her most recent album, Volta, was released worldwide on 8 May 2007.
Björk was born and raised in Reykjavík, Iceland. Her father is Guðmundur Gunnarsson, a union leader and electrician, and her mother is Hildur Rúna Hauksdóttir, an activist who protested against Kárahnúkar, a controversial hydro-electric development in Iceland.
Her musical career began when she was eleven with her study of classical piano in elementary school. One of her instructors sent a recording of Björk singing Tina Charles' song "I Love to Love" to RÚV, then the only radio station in Iceland. The recording was broadcast on radio nationally; after hearing it, a representative of the record label Fálkinn contacted Björk to offer a record contract. An album, Björk, was recorded and released in 1977.
In her teens, Björk was influenced by punk; at 14 she formed the all-girl punk band Spit and Snot, shortly followed by the jazz fusion group Exodus in 1979. In 1980 she graduated from music school. In 1981 she and bassist Jakob Magnússon formed another band called Jam-80, which later became Tappi Tíkarrass (which means "Cork the Bitch’s Arse" in Icelandic), and released an extended single, "Bítið Fast í Vítið" in the same year. Their next album, Miranda, was released in 1983.
Afterward, Björk collaborated with Einar Örn Benediktsson and Einar Melax from Purrkur Pillnikk, and Guðlaugur Óttarsson, Sigtryggur Baldursson, and Birgir Mogensen from Þeyr. After writing songs and rehearsing for two weeks, the new band, KUKL ("sorcery" in Icelandic), developed a sound described as Gothic rock. Björk began to show indications of her trademark singing style, which was punctuated by howls and shrieks.
KUKL toured Iceland with anarchist UK punk band Crass, and later visited the UK in a series of performances with Flux of Pink Indians. They produced two albums as a result of these collaborations: The Eye in 1984, and Holidays in Europe in 1986, both on Crass Records.
The band eventually dissolved, in part due to the closure of their label, Gramm. In mid-1986, several members of KUKL and the surrealist group Medusa got together to create the arts collective Smekkleysa (Bad Taste). They created a musical division, a band again called KUKL, but soon changed the name to The Sugarcubes.