Today Björk and Rosalía have joined forces to release powerful new single ‘Oral’. Produced by the artists alongside Sega Bodega, ‘Oral’ marks the first collaboration between Björk and Rosalía. It aims to shed light on the alarming cruelty, and severe environmental and ecological consequences of open-pen ocean salmon farming in Björk’s native country, Iceland.
‘Oral’ dates back two decades – first written by Björk between 1997’s Homogenic and 2001’s Vespertine, the track was lost to her archives after feeling like it wasn’t the right fit for an album. Björk rediscovered the song after being reminded of its name whilst on tour in Australia in March 2023, the same month a report was released about the devastating impact of poorly regulated, Norwegian-owned commercial salmon farming operations on Iceland’s native ecosystems.
After deeply resonating with the cause, and as a passionate campaigner and protester for much of her life, Björk enlisted Rosalía to help bring the song to life and in turn raise awareness of the issue. The cruel practice of open-pen farming, introduced to Iceland after Norwegian businessmen began purchasing fish farms in the country’s fjords, involves intensively farming fish by penning them into open water nets that are anchored in natural waterways, where the fish are kept enclosed until they reach marketable size. This accelerates the fish’s development and in many cases creates genetic mutations in the salmon’s DNA, as well as being a breeding ground for a number of parasites and diseases. The industry in Iceland has grown tenfold since 2014, producing under 4,000 tones to 45,000 in 2021, with it now estimated that the annual production could be up to 106,500 tonnes. Iceland has the largest untouched natural area in Europe, and the waste and pollution associated with open-pen farming threatens to permanently damage its entire ocean ecology. Lack of regulation and the industry being largely unsupervised has also meant that thousands of these genetically altered, diseased salmon regularly escape the pens and swim upriver to Iceland’s highlands, where devastating genetic mixing occurs and endangers the future of Iceland’s wild salmon population.
Proceeds from “Oral” will be used to support a legal case against the fisheries, brought forth by residents of the town of Seyðisfjörður on the eastern side of Iceland.
You can learn more about Icelandic Fish Farming from the Icelandic Wildlife Fund.