Declare Independence

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"Declare Independence"
Single by Björk
from the album Volta
Released January 1, 2008
Length 4:13
Label One Little Indian
  • Björk
  • Mark Bell
Björk singles chronology
"Declare Independence"

"Declare Independence" is a song written and recorded by Icelandic singer Björk. The track was released as the third single from her seventh full-length studio album, Volta. The single was released on January 1, 2008. Björk's dedication of the song to various independence causes at live performances of the song in Shanghai and Tokyo have caused controversy.[4][5]


The song was originally an instrumental track by British musician and frequent musical collaborator Mark Bell, performed at his live shows as early as November, 2006.[6] Björk later added her vocals and brass arrangement on top.[7] The lyrics are dedicated to the Faroe Islands and Greenland,[8][9][10] islands which currently are constituent nations within the kingdom Denmark, as Björk's home country of Iceland had been.

Declare Independence was originally meant to be released as the second single from Volta in August, 2007, but due to the worldwide success of the album Björk had to perform more international promotion work than her label One Little Indian had originally planned, meaning that the previously-planned video shoot for "Declare Independence" with Michel Gondry in London couldn't take place.[11] The deadline for the music video contest for "Innocence" (then slated as the third single) was then brought forward a month to June 10, 2007 so as to provide a finished video able to coincide with a July, 2007 release originally planned for Declare Independence.

Music video[edit]

Background and development[edit]

The military-themed performance video was directed by French director Michel Gondry. It is his seventh video with Björk, and the first since 1997's "Bachelorette". In a press conference on March 22, 2007, Gondry stated that he would be shooting a video with Björk for an upcoming single, and though he did not specifically state which song it would be for, described his treatment as being for a "punk" song.[12][13] Later confirmation of the video being for "Declare Independence" was made in an article on Monsters and Critics on May 8, 2007.[14] The video shoot was originally going to take place in August 2007 in London (as was the projected single release)[11] but it was eventually rescheduled to October 11, 2007 in New York City.[15] The finished video was premiered on AOL on 6 December 2007.[16] A making-of was made available on November 29, 2007.[17] The video was premiered exclusively on Channel 4 in the UK on 13 December 2007.[18] The video is also available on the DVD compilation Michel Gondry 2: More Videos (Before and After DVD 1).


The video opens with Mark Bell standing on a wall suspended above Björk, playing a loom-shaped bass guitar. The strings from this guitar thread themselves through Björk's megaphone, the helmets of several foot soldiers and then up through a pulley system before returning to the guitar. As the song progresses, the strings are spraypainted with several colours as they pass through the loop. When the beat begins, the foot soldiers jump along to the beat, triggering a platform switch that raises a large white banner that loops around the installation. The banner is then painted by five other people in jumpsuits when it reaches the top. A trickle of green paint streaks down the camera's lens at the end of the video as the machine begins to grind to a halt. All the people in the video including Björk wear jumpsuits with the flags of Greenland and the Faroe Islands on their shoulders.[19]


Björk performing at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Björk has used live performances of "Declare Independence" to declare political support for various causes, often to some controversy. At two concerts in Tokyo, Japan she showed her support for Kosovo's declaration of independence. When her upcoming performance at the 2008 Serbian EXIT Festival was cancelled,[5][20] Björk suggested that "Maybe a Serb attended my concert [in Tokyo] and called home, and therefore the concert in Novi Sad was cancelled."[21][22] The organizer behind the EXIT Festival denied that Björk's cancellation from the festival was because of her song dedication to Kosovo; that it was actually their inability to guarantee the safety of her fans.[23] Björk's management maintained that the cancellation was because of the dedication,[24] claiming that they had received an email from EXIT Festival saying that they would only allow the concert to go ahead if Björk's management "denied that Björk has ever [dedicated the song to Kosovo]".[25] On March 7, 2008 EXIT festival organiser Bojan Boscovic changed his position and told NME that Björk has an "open invitation" to play at the festival.[26] Björk's dedicating of "Declare Independence" to the Faroe Islands caused some minor controversy in the country.[8][10]

At a concert in Shanghai, China on March 2, 2008 Björk shouted "Tibet, Tibet!" three times followed by "Raise your flag!" four times during the finale performance of "Declare Independence".[4][27] Immediately there was an 'uneasy atmosphere' and fans left the venue quickly,[28] and internet forums such as Tianya fielded many negative comments on her statement.[29] China's Ministry of Culture issued a statement denouncing Björk's outburst,[30] and warned that she would be banned from future appearances in China if she repeated such behavior.[31] In an interview, Björk said that she did not "[plan] a trip to China with the purpose of... propaganda" and that Chinese officials "sensationalized" her performance.[32][33] On July 17, 2008 the Chinese Ministry of Culture announced that artistic groups who "threaten national unity" or "whip up ethnic hatred" among other things during live events would be banned from performing. Fans of Oasis and Bob Dylan, who had previously performed in Tibetan Freedom Concerts, blamed the new regulations for their subsequent denials of permission to perform in Chinese venues.[34]

Live performances[edit]

On June 8, 2007 (recorded on June 5, 2007), Björk performed, along with her tour musicians, on the UK television show Later With Jools Holland for the fifth time in her solo career.[35] She performed "Earth Intruders", "The Anchor Song", and "Declare Independence". Björk's set at Glastonbury Festival was broadcast on BBC Four (and later on BBC Two) on June 22, 2007, with "Declare Independence" being the last song of the concert.

Björk has performed the song on every show of the worldwide Volta Tour, usually as the very last song of the concert. The live performances make heavy use of the ReacTable, an electro-acoustic music instrument with a tabletop Tangible User Interface. Musician Damian Taylor plays the ReacTable live on stage, and is often joined on the instrument by the support bands when "Declare Independence" is played. During the Australian leg of her tour, as part of the 2008 Big Day Out, the song was dedicated to the Aboriginal people of Australia.

In the Biophilia Tour, the song was played using the instrumental base of the song (eliminating brass and beats, being the latter played live onstage by Manu Delago) and featuring the Tesla coil as a new instrument. On August 12, 2012 in Helsinki, Finland, Björk dedicated the song to Pussy Riot.

Björk also performed the song at the end of her set in Toronto on July 16, 2013, and dedicated it to Trayvon Martin.[36]

Track list[edit]

The limited edition "multiformat" box set consists of a sticker-sealed fold out box with five colored nesting boxes containing two 12" vinyl singles, a CD and a music video DVD in colored paper sleeves. A digital release accompanied the physical release on the same date.[37] Promotional white label versions of the two 12" singles were also made available to buy separately. The "Mark Stent Mix" is the album version of the track but without the mixed crossover sounds from the previous track on the album, "Hope".

12-inch vinyl 1[edit]

Side A. "Declare Independence" (Ghostigital 12" mix)
Side B. "Declare Independence" (Mark Stent mix)

12-inch vinyl 2[edit]

Side C. "Declare Independence" (Matthew Herbert 12" mix)
Side D. "Declare Independence" (Mark Stent instrumental)


  1. "Declare Independence" (Mark Stent mix)
  2. "Declare Independence" (Ghostigital In Deep End dance 12" remix)
  3. "Declare Independence" (Matthew Herbert 12" mix)
  4. "Declare Independence" (Mark Stent instrumental)


  1. "Declare Independence" — Music video, directed by Michel Gondry

Digital EP[edit]

  1. "Declare Independence" (Mark Stent mix)
  2. "Declare Independence" (Ghostigital In Deep End dance remix 12")
  3. "Declare Independence" (Matthew Herbert 12")
  4. "Declare Independence" (Mark Stent instrumental)
  • the iTunes release of the EP also included the music video.


Chart Peak
European Singles Chart 104
France Singles Top 100[38] 67
Italian Singles Chart[39] 19


  • Album version — 4:12
  • Voltaïc version — 4:18
  • Mark Stent Mix[37] — 4:12
  • Mark Stent Instrumental[37] — 4:12
  • Matthew Herbert 12" Mix[37] — 5:21
  • Ghostigital in Deep End Dance 12" Remix[37] — 2:49
  • Black Pus Mix — 8:48 (Available on Voltaïc)


  1. ^ "Pitchfork: Album Reviews: Björk: Volta". Pitchfork Media. 2007-05-08. Retrieved 2012-01-11.
  2. ^ "Bjork - Volta - Review - Stylus Magazine". Stylus Magazine. 2007-05-07. Retrieved 2012-01-11.
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b "Bjork makes 'free Tibet' gesture". BBC News. 2008-03-04. Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  5. ^ a b (2008). "Bjork Serbian gig cancelled over her pro-Kosovan stance". Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  6. ^ (2007). "\/\unity - Declare Independence without vocals/instrumental". Retrieved 2007-12-24. 
  7. ^ (2007). "brooklynvegan: An interview with Björk". Retrieved 2007-12-06. 
  8. ^ a b Útvarp Føroya (Faroese Radio): Íslendska Björk ognar Føroyum og Grønlandi nýggjan sang (The Icelandic Björk dedicates new song to the Faroes and Greenland), April 10, 2007 (Faroese)
  9. ^ Iceland Review: Björk in concert in Iceland, April 10, 2007
  10. ^ a b Bjørk upp í flaggstríðið? (Björk onto the Flag struggle?), April 10, 2007 (Faroese)
  11. ^ a b (2007). "\/\unity - Explanation from OLI about contest date change". Retrieved 2007-06-22. 
  12. ^ (2007). " : " J'ai toujours rêvé d'adapter une histoire sur un arbre de 5 km de haut ".". Archived from the original on 2007-03-24. Retrieved 2007-04-03. 
  13. ^ (2007). "Michel Gondry, à nouveau de la partie ? - bjork fr - news, forum, concert 2007, Volta le nouvel album de Björk". Archived from the original on 2007-04-27. Retrieved 2007-04-03. 
  14. ^ (2007). "Bjork's plays with others on 'Volta' - Music". Archived from the original on 2007-10-14. Retrieved 2007-12-06. 
  15. ^ (2007). "\/\unity - Pictures from Declare Independence". Retrieved 2007-11-27. 
  16. ^ (2007). "Declare Independence : clip en décembre + single en janvier - news, forum, photos, concert 2007 / 2008, Volta, Live Session Album". Archived from the original on 2007-11-10. Retrieved 2007-11-27. 
  17. ^ (2007). "Bjork, The Making of... 'Declare Independence' - Video Exclusive - - Free MP3s, Interviews, Music News, Live Performances, Songs and Videos". Retrieved 2007-11-30. 
  18. ^ (2007). "\/\unity - C4 Video Exclusive". Retrieved 2007-12-24. 
  19. ^ (2007). "Bjork, 'Declare Independence' - Video of the Day". 
  20. ^ (2008). "\/\unity - K O S O V O". Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  21. ^ (2008). "Iceland Review - Online". Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  22. ^ (2008). " - Frétt - Hætt við tónleika vegna orða Bjarkar um Kosovo". Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  23. ^ "Bjork festival cancellation 'not due to politics'". 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-04.  External link in |work= (help)
  24. ^ "Bjork management: Kosovo WAS behind Exit festival row". 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-04.  External link in |work= (help)
  25. ^ "Pitchfork: Bjork Speaks Out About Kosovo Controversy". 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-04.  External link in |work= (help)
  26. ^ "EXIT festival boss: Bjork has 'open invitation' to play". 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-10.  External link in |work= (help)
  27. ^ (2008). "Music - News - Bjork gig outburst draws criticism - Digital Spy". Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  28. ^ (2008). "GIGWISE, Bjork Angers Fans In China With 'Tibet' Call". Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  29. ^ Branigan, Tania (2008-03-04). "Bjork's Shanghai surprise: a cry of 'Tibet!'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  30. ^ (2008). "E! News - China Tries to Cork Björk". Retrieved 2008-03-10. 
  31. ^ (2008). "Music News - The latest music news and gossip from Yahoo! Music UK & Ireland". Retrieved 2008-03-10. 
  32. ^ (2008). ""The Lipster - Features - LIPSTER WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Bjork's first interview about China, censorship and "Tibet, Tibet""". Retrieved 2008-03-18. 
  33. ^ (2008). "Bjork speaks after Tibet controversy". Retrieved 2008-03-18. 
  34. ^ Walker, Peter (2010-04-04). "China blocks Bob Dylan gigs". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010-04-05. 
  35. ^ (2007). "Later with Jools Holland - news, forum, photos, concert 2007 / 2008, Volta, Live Session Album". Retrieved 2007-12-06. 
  36. ^ NME (2013). "Björk dedicates song to Trayvon Martin at Toronto show – watch". Retrieved 2013-08-22. 
  37. ^ a b c d e (2007). "BLEEP - High Quality Music Downloads from". Retrieved 2007-12-24. 
  38. ^ Steffen Hung. "Björk - Declare Independence". Retrieved 2012-02-13. 
  39. ^ "Italian Singles Chart". Retrieved 2008-02-29. 

External links[edit]