[sic] Magazine

Interview: Rebekka Karijord

Having been suitably entranced by Nordic singer-songwriter Rebekka Karijord’s latest LP We Become Ourselves – even at one stage calling Ms Karijord an “old world Siren” – we naturally leapt at the opportunity to paw her with questions when the opportunity arose.

By way of introduction, where in the world do you find yourself today and what will be/has been occupying your time?

Rebekka Karijord: I am currently in a tour bus between Hamburg and Berlin, stuck in a traffic jam. I was just watching This Is England ’88 , which is fantastic. Love it! When I arrive in Berlin I’m doing promo, radio and different sessions, before playing a show tomorrow.

The small parts of your bio that have been properly translated into English make reference to you having scored approximately 30 films to date. There’s little else to go on however for the uninitiated. Could you fill us in about how you got into sound-tracking and what precisely you worked on during that period?

RK: I’ve done music for about 30 films, theatre and dance pieces, mostly in Scandinavia. It kind of happened organically, and I’ve learnt along the way, by doing. I often chose to work on political and humanistic projects. The latest film I did was a documentary about paperless, single, underage immigrants coming to Europe. It is very satisfying for me to be involved in projects outside my own world and safety zone. I get to travel to places I normally wouldn’t visit with my music, and it opens my eyes. For example I made the score for a film about the bloggers who started the revolutions in the Middle East, and I travelled to Egypt and Palestine and collected sounds and musical material.

Do your learnings from that time still influence you today? During the outro of your “Ode To What Is Lost” there seems to be some of the naturalistic ambience and organic drive so favoured by those that score elemental documentaries.

RK: I still score for films and theatre, in between touring and working with my own records. It’s kind of my “day job”. So I guess it influences my records and concerts etc. To get the chance to experiment sonically and develop my arranging skills has definitely affected my songs. I think it has made me bolder in general, as a musician.

Despite fragments of formal musical training you consider yourself largely self-taught on many instruments, but what about your stunning voice? Surely, at the very least, that has been fine-tuned under the guidance of some professional or other?

RK: Thank you. I played the violin and piano since I was little, and have been singing as long as I can remember. I’ve had a lot of voice training during many years, both at a music academy and then later as an actress. But I have actually felt this stood in the way of me finding my voice. Probably more a matter of confidence than anything else. So it isn’t until recently, a few years ago, that I really became friends with my voice. I don’t find it in extraordinary in any way, but now I at least feel it is a true extension of me, and I’ve decided to not analyse it, or intellectualise when singing.

The music industry today has a strong focus on singing well (which of course you do!), but they often seem to forget that it’s also important to have something to sing about. We Become Ourselves strikes the right balance. Is the content of your songs taken largely from your day-to-day life, or are there more grandiose writing mechanisms in place?

RK: I am really glad you say that. Myself I’m never touched or impressed by technique or voices able to do whatever. I need content, stories, an urge. My theory is that if you have something to tell, you can play on a shoe lace and make people cry.

A lot of people have already asked you about the track “Use My Body While It’s Still Young”, particularly in relation to mortality. I also see it as an unavoidably sexual statement, but one ultimately – how shall we say – generous in its offer, rather than perhaps being as dark as it may first appear. Care to comment?

RK: I prefer not to explain what my songs mean, it tends to take away the magic, but to me the song is about remembering vulnerability, mortality, and being able to embrace life more.

The male choirs you put to use on the new album are a nice touch, especially given how it is framed by your relationships with men. It must be said though that choirs and organs, which also appear on We Become Ourselves, usually belie a religious relationship, be it current or not. What’s your current status with the Church?

RK: Yes, I wanted the record to sound a bit hedonistic and religious at the same time, but not religious as in Christianity or any other religion – more as if the human body were a church.

Born in Norway, now a long term inhabitant of Sweden, you’re perhaps in a fairly unique position to offer perspective on the idea that Sweden isn’t in fact the more musically popular of the pair, rather that it just has better marketing internationally. What are your thoughts?

RK: Oh, I’m not sure how to answer that actually … I think Sweden and Norway have very different musical styles right now. Swedes are brilliant at pure pop music, Norwegians darker, more electronic, gloomier. Sweden has definitely been better at promoting their music in the past. Maybe it will change.

Finally, having already evolved as an artist from chilly Scando-pop to more compositional and sparse singer-songwriting, where’s next?

RK: I’m not a strategic person, so I really don’t know where I’ll go next. But I know that I don’t like repeating myself, and there is definitely loads of stuff that tickles my musical curiosity. I’d like to explore the usage of voices more, and different sorts of organic percussion. I’d also like to challenge the forms and periods in my songs more, and dare to let in more instrumental space and maybe more silence.

~[sic] magazine would like to thank Rebekka Karijord for taking the time out to answer our questions and wish her well touring We Become Ourselves, which is out now on Control Freak Kitten Records .~

~Upcoming tour dates:~

~16-Jan 2013 UK London – The Borderline~
~17-Jan 2013 UK Manchester – Ruby Lounge~
~18-Jan 2013 IE Dublin – Workman’s Club~
~19-Jan 2013 UK Glasgow – King Tuts~

[sic] review: We Become Ourselves