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Björk and Rosalía release song ‘Oral’ to fight industrial fish farming in Iceland

Björk and Rosalía in 'Oral' video directed by Carlotta Guerrero
Björk and Rosalía in 'Oral' video directed by Carlotta Guerrero Copyright YouTube
Copyright YouTube
By David Mouriquand
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The profits of Björk and Rosalía's new song, ‘Oral’, will help pay the legal fees of the people of Fjord Seyðisfjörður, who are protesting foreign-owned salmon farming operations.

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Two European music iconoclasts have teamed up to raise awareness in the fight against industrial salmon farming in Iceland.

As we reported last month, Icelandic legend Björk and Catalan queen Rosalía were preparing to release a joint track, aiming to denounce the ravages of intensive fish farming in in Björk’s native Iceland, specifically the Icelandic region of Seyðisfjörður.

The profits of song, ‘Oral’, will help pay the legal fees of the people of Fjord Seyðisfjörður, who are protesting foreign-owned salmon farming operations.

“People at the fjord Seyðisfjörður have stood up and protested against fish farming starting there,” Björk shared in a statement in October. “We would like to donate sales of the song to help with their legal fees and hopefully it can be an exemplary case for others.”

Björk wrote most of 'Oral' between her 1997 album 'Homogenic' and 2001’s 'Vespertine', but she lost track of the song’s original tapes for two decades. She re-discovered the track after seeing the word “oral” on TV while on tour in Australia earlier this year.

In a message on her Instagram feed, Björk said she felt “blessed” that the Spanish songwriter had agreed to the collaboration and was donating her work to the “battle” against open-pen farms.

“This is a 25-year-old song of mine that I wrote and programmed inspired by a dancehall beat (the grandmother of reggaeton),” she wrote.

“Rosalía’s experiences with the genre and her incredible voice made her an obvious guest on the song. I feel blessed that she said yes and her team is donating their work and all proceeds to this battle.”

There was an “elegant resonance” to the fact that her voice was the same age as Rosalía’s on the recording, said the singer, who turned 58 yesterday.

Watch (avatars of) Björk and Rosalía with swords in the new 'Oral' video, directed by Paris-based Spanish artist Carlotta Guerrero, a regular collaborator of Rosalía:

Regarding the video, a press release explains:

"Carlota came up with the concept and executed the video, exploring the use of AI technology and embracing the glitches blurring the line between reality and virtuality whilst challenging the notions of identity. Throughout the piece, female rage is explored through Bjork’s and Rosalía’s avatars. They are not fighting each other; they are training together to fight the real and bigger enemy."

There has been escalation of public outcry in Iceland over the environmental impacts of salmon farms’ open-net pens, which reportedly threaten the country’s ecologically distinct fjords and native wildlife.

In October, Björk said artists were often the “canaries in the coalmine” of environmental emergencies because it was their job to be sensitive. The salmon farming companies, she said, were “a couple of wild guys who want to make money quick and sacrifice nature”.

In her social-media message, Björk said: “Industrial salmon farming in open enclosures is horrible for the environment. Farmed salmon go through immense suffering and cause serious damage to our planet.”

“This is an extraordinarily cruel way of making food,” she said. “The fight against the open-fishing industry is part of the fight for the future of the planet.”

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