The real Rebekka
Norwegian writer, actor, singer and songwriter Rebekka Karijord says her creative drive – and restlessness – comes from her troubled childhood. ‘I guess I’ve always searched,’ she tells Kevin Courtney
IT’S THE WEEK before Christmas, and I’m sitting on a large, comfy sofa in the drawing-room of a Georgian townhouse hotel on Harcourt Street, a faded haven from the seasonal hustle and bustle of Grafton Street. Above me looms a large Christmas tree, twinkling with old-fashioned baubles, and across from me sits Norwegian-born, Stockholm-based singer-songwriter Rebekka Karijord, who is in Dublin to promote her concert in The Workman’s Club next Friday (January 18th). It’s not quite a traditional Norwegian yuletide setting, but it feels pretty close.
Karijord had a lot to celebrate when she went back to her family home near Oslo this Christmas. Her new album, We Become Ourselves, released last autumn, has been greeted with acclaim across Europe, and finished the year in Mojo’s list of the Top 10 World Music albums of 2012. It’s her second album, following 2009’s The Noble Art of Letting Go, but this is just the tip of the Karijord iceberg; her artistic timeline goes all the way back to when she was 12, and has been marked by a restless and searching nature that keeps her always moving towards her next creative peak.
“I think it results in me never wanting to repeat myself. Sometimes too much. I can be very impatient. I’ve had a little bit of a problem in that I never ride the wave. You know, I jump off the wave. I think that’s why I’m such a late bloomer, in a way, because I’ve been doing this since I was 12, and on my last album, The Noble Art of Letting Go, that was the one that gave me some sort of fundament as a musician, and gave me the opportunity to tour. And before that I had been doing a lot of different things. I’d been writing plays, I’d been acting in films, I’d been writing music for films and theatre – which I still do – and working with humanistic issues – going to Palestine.
“I think it comes from my upbringing, actually. Because I grew up with a single mom, and a dad who was not present, and we were really struggling in many ways. My mom was super-poor. She was really young when she got me. I think also because of how my dad was, he had drug problems, and a lot of personal problems, so I didn’t see him that much.
“I think I’d been thinking a lot about this since I was little: why are some people on the inside of what’s accepted and approved in society, the inner warm circle, and why are some people on the outside? How much coincidence is it? Because I think it could be you and me. And my father, who was a musician and came from a super-privileged family, with education and everything, ended up spending 20 years of his life on drugs. He’s healthy now, but I’ve always had this soft spot for the people who end up on the outside, and I get really provoked by unfairness. So I guess I’ve always searched.”