When Nikki Dibben sent a copy ofher book about Björk to the Icelandic singer’s manager, she had no idea that it would lead to an invitation to work on the pop star’s next album – the groundbreaking and hugely successful Biophilia.
‘I had based the book on interviews with many of those who work with Björk, but I couldn’t get an interview with the singer herself,’ said Nikki, a Senior Lecturer in the University’s Department of Music.
In part, the book explored how Björk, a noted environmental campaigner, reconciled technology and nature through her music. ‘She liked what I had written and wanted me involved in her next project because it would have an educational dimension,’ Nikki added. But what began as ‘a little bit of writing’ for the project website rapidly evolved into something much more significant.
‘The new album is the first to be released as an app – and I was a part of the team involved at every stage of its creation. I got an insider’s view of the creative, collaborative process and how the team enabled Björk to realise her artistic vision.’
Biophilia is a multimedia collection that encompasses music, apps, Internet, installations and live shows: and behind it all are Nikki’s extensive ‘programme notes’ explaining to the listener why the music sounds as it does.
It was her involvement at every stage of the creative process, along with her intimate interviews with Björk, that enabled her to provide the musical insights that make listening to this remarkable album all the more pleasurable.
‘I think this is a first,’ says Nikki. ‘I don’t know of any other pop music academic who has been so closely involved in the creative process of making an album.’ Perhaps she should have said a double first, as the record in question is also the world’s first album digitally produced and released as an app.