Born and raised in Sandnessjøen,Norway, just south of the Arctic Circle singer/songwriter/composer/actress Rebekka Karijord relocated to Sweden a decade ago, where has she proven to be remarkably prolific, as she composed music for over 30 films, modern dance and theater pieces, and has written plays and short stories. And I personally believe that she may have one of the more inteersting biographies i’ve come across in recent memory – as well as one that I can personally relate to in some way.
Karijord’s parents were high school sweethearts who spent the earliest part of their relationship traveling around Europe in a beaten up Volkswagen bus. Her father, who was a musician busked and her mother sold handmade bracelets for money. However, her parents separated when Karijord was three, and in many ways such events have a way of reverberating in one’s personal and artistic life.
For the next 25 years or so, Karijord’s father had battled drug addiction and as a result there were periods in which the man had been in and out of her life with sporadic contact. Her relationship with her father was colored by expectations and crushing disappointments, and at one point they had drifted apart – that is until she had stumbled upon a notebook with her father’s handwritten songs, poems and sketches. And the songs were written for Karijord and her mother.
Eventually, Karijord’s mother let a teenaged Karijord visit her father and as Karijord admits in press notes it was a sad and painful experience – her father was extremely sick and she wound up seeing things that as a teenager that she shouldn’t have seen. Still her father was extremely happy to see his daughter and although he didn’t have much, he gave her two large bags of his songs. Not only did it offer a glimpse into a man who had largely been absent, it also started a songwriting correspondence between the two, in which a young Karijord began writing her own songs.
As a songwriter some of her earliest influences include Janis Joplin, Patti Smith, Sheila Chandra, Neil Young and The Rolling Stones. And interestingly enough, around the time that Karijord began to develop a relationship with her father, she had signed publishing and recording deals with a major label; however it turned out to be a poor fit as she couldn’t write the pop songs that the label demanded.
Karijord’s latest effort, We Become Ourselves is her second effort to see an international release, and will be released Stateside on February 5 as a deluxe edition with 12 B sides and several alternate versions of the songs which appear on the album. Reportedly, the album draws influences from the likes of Cat Power, PJ Harvey, Robert Wyatt and others; however, the album’s first single “Use My Body While It’s Still Young” manages to bear a resemblance to the likes of Kate Bush – the song is intimate yet huge and possesses a quiet yet forceful power.
Featuring the 76 year old Siv Ander, one of the first dancers of the Cullberg Ballet Company, the video features an inherent contradiction at its heart, as the song’s lyrics are at times extremely direct. As Karijord explained to Jezebel’s The Muse, “"I knew I wanted to have some sort of a visual contradiction to it, because of the quite direct lyrics and title. I imagined a sensual, older body expressing vitality and power. I find that older peoples’ sexuality and bodies, and especially female bodies, are one of the last taboos in our very youth fixated society… I know it’s a title [that’s] easy to interpret as only sexual, but to me it has more layers than that. I wanted to write some sort of a Memento Mori; Remember your death, because that will make you live fuller and more courageously." If that’s not a powerful statement, I don’t know what is.