So you didn't snag a ticket to the "Björkestra," Björk's sold out May 30 performance with the L.A. Philharmonic. Don't cry into your moss-flavored schanpps (yes, that's a thing). You can still get a dose of screaming and dragons.
The Icelandic elf princess who occasionally takes human form to double as a musician and DJ has created a new way to see — not simply hear — her music.
Björk Digital, an exhibition of virtual reality videos tied to her latest album, "Vulnicura," made its West Coast debut earlier this month.
"Of all the things I've done," the singer said at a recent press conference, "the digital exhibition has been the most spontaneous."
In an interview with KPCC's Alex Cohen on Morning Edition, she talked about how she got involved in music at an early age.
It was a 40-minute walk to school, and in all weathers, and it was kind of my little way of comforting myself or kind of like, accompanying myself. I obviously wasn’t thinking about that at the time, that would be my job for the rest of my life, but it was until much later that I felt people would actually want to hear that.
You can hear the entire conversation by clicking the blue play button above.
Not your typical exhibition
Were you expecting HD screens hung on a gallery wall? Nope. The show features six separate stations, each of which attempts to marry the time-based experience of music to the spatially-based experience of VR. In less fancy terms...
You'll find yourself in the basement of a building in downtown L.A. where each song has its own room or cordoned-off area.
For a couple tracks, you don headphones and heavy VR googles while sitting on a swiveling stool, which lets you experience the video in 360 degrees. For another, you can wave your arms as the song plays, creating abstract electronic ribbons in time with the music.
"Black Lake" is a group experience. Visitors enter a dark room lined with 50 speakers and two large screens on opposing walls. A different video, both of which feature Bjork on rocky, volcanic landscape, plays on each screen. You're meant to walk around and experience the acoustics and visuals of each spot in the room.
The blessing of boundaries
During the press conference, which Björk attended remotely, represented by an avatar from her digital universe, she was asked about working in VR.
"The limitations are what excite me most," she said. "It's still in the making. You can improvise. It's like the future. You don't know. You have to dig a cave with a teaspoon."
Björk revealed her upcoming concert with the L.A. Phil will only be her and a 32-piece orchestra, no electronics or visuals to augment the performance at Disney Hall.
Björk Digital might be the antidote, an experience meant to forge an intimate connection with fans, the sort she says she's been finding during her recent DJ gigs. "I've actually been able to meet more of the people who listen to my music," she said.
The performer will return to L.A. in July, to headline the FYF Fest. She says she'll play with electronic producer Arca and a 15-piece orchestra.
She says she's starting work on her next project, which "probably happens not on earth partly."
In the meantime, Björk says she's listening to a lot of Ethiopian vinyl, Kelela and composer Jürg Frey. She's also trying to "keep scared, stay vulnerable but also excited."
Björk Digital runs through June 4 at Magic Box at The Reef. Tickets cost $35.
This story has been updated to include an interview with Björk.