From a Child’s and an Animal’s Point of View

“After The Sugarcubes, I guess I had a mixture of liberation and fear. It had been obvious for a while in the band that I had different tastes than the rest. That’s fair enough – there’s no such thing as correct taste. I wrote the melody for Human Behaviour as a kid. A lot of the melodies on Debut I wrote as a teenager and put aside because I was in punk bands and they weren’t punk. The lyric is almost like a child’s point of view and the video that I did with Michel Gondry was based on childhood memories.”
Björk
(Talking to David Hemingway about the song)

 
 

 
 

Human Behaviour was written by Nellee Hooper and Björk, and was produced by Hooper. The song was first written in 1988 when Björk was still the leading singer of the Sugarcubes, but she decided not to release it with the band. The song was inspired by David Attenborough documentaries and by the relation between humans and animals. Björk explained to Rolling Stone, talking about the inspiration for the song: “Human Behaviour is an animal’s point of view on humans. And the animals are definitely supposed to win in the end.So why, one might ask, is the conquering bear presented as a man-made toy? I don’t know. I guess I just didn’t think it would be fair to force an animal to act in a video. I mean, that would be an extension of what I’m against. I told him [Gondry], ‘I want a bear and textures like handmade wood and leaves and earth, and I want it to seem like animation.’ Then I backed out.” On a recent question and answer session with fans on The Guardian website, Björk revealed more information about the writing of the song: “I wrote it I was referring to my childhood and probably talking about how I felt more comfortable on my own walking outside singing and stuff than hanging out with humans…”

 
 

 
 

This is the first song on the “Isobel song cycle”, a transcendental cycle in Björk’s discography which goes from Human Behaviour to Wanderlust (2007). Human Behaviour bears influences from electronica, alternative rock and alternative dance. The melody-line of Human Behaviour was originally called Murder for Two and written by Björk for the Sugarcubes’ final album Stick Around for Joy. But The band didn’t know what music to play to the melody-line, so Björk used it for her debut album.

 
 

 
 

The music video was directed by Michel Gondry, and this was the first time he and Björk collaborated. The video is a loose take on the children’s tale “Goldilocks and the Three Bears“, with visuals inspired by Yuri Norstein‘s animated film Hedgehog in the Fog. The video has several elements that are present in Gondry’s first feature film Human Nature.

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From a Beauty Point of View

Venus as a Boy was released as the second single from her 1993 album Debut (1993). The song was written by Björk and was produced by Nellee Hooper, who produced the majority of her debut album. The single was released in August 1993, a month after the release of the album. The song was inspired by a boy who saw everything from a “beauty point of view”.

It was one of the last tracks to be recorded for the album. The song was inspired by a “specific person” but Björk never revealed who it was. Although, it is supposed that this specific person is Dominic Thrupp (also known as Dom T.) with whom Björk had a relationship at the time of writing. Moreover, the song talks about a boy who saw everything from a “beauty point of view, and not superficial beauty but the beauty of brushing your teeth and the beauty of waking up in the morning in the right beat and the beauty of having a conversation with a person.” as revealed by the singer.

 
 

 
 

The accompanying music video was directed by the British music video director Sophie Muller. The clip shows Björk in a kitchen while she’s cooking some eggs and was inspired by the singer’s favorite book Story of the Eye, a 1928 novella by Georges Bataille that details the increasingly bizarre sexual perversions of a pair of teenage lovers. It is narrated by the young man looking back on his exploits. In one point of the book, a girl, Simone, uses boiled eggs for sexual stimulation.

 
 

 
 

The story of the egg comes as Björk explains:

“ She [Sophie Muller] kept going on about it being fried. I was saying, ‘No way is that book about a fried egg! I’m sorry. Poached? Okay. Boiled? Okay. Raw? Okay. But not fried.’ [And a fried egg is unsuitable because……?] Because it’s too hard. It’s rough and it’s greasy. It should be about being sort of liquidy and wet and soft and open… ”
She gave Muller a copy of Story of the Eye a couple of days before they filmed but didn’t insist that she read it. Muller didn’t have the time. After recording the video and then reading the book, Muller admitted to Björk that “Fried was the wrong egg!”

Much of the cutlery featured in the music video came from Björk’s house.

Björk described the composition of the song in an interview with David Hemingway:

“I think I wrote it in my living room in Iceland and sang it into my dictaphone. Later, by accident, we were going through sounds and I found this broken bottle sound. It wasn’t intentional but it sounded great. It was one of the last songs recorded for Debut – the album was ready to go. Sometimes the more unpredictable side of me does several headstands and flicks-flacks once the album has been delivered and the best song come out.”

The movie Léon (Luc Besson, 1994) features the song in a wordless series of scenes between the two main characters.

 
 

Photos by Jean-Baptiste Mondino on Genealogy of Style’s Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.617458368342940.1073741832.597542157001228&type=1&l=e7c3558a86