The real Rebekka
When she was 12, Karijord came across a set of lyrics written by her estranged father, which prompted her to seek him out and try and reconnect with this lost soul. “He didn’t give me much as a parent, but indirectly, he gave me music.” Over the next few years, father and daughter exchanged music, and she worked with him on some of his songs, setting many of his lyrics to music.
“He was playing his really prog, socialistic type songs, but there were love songs as well, for me and my mom, which was very special. It really was a big part of my life until I was 21 and I studied theatre, and then I made a play and integrated it with his songs, and it was a huge success in Sweden and in Norway, too. And that was the end of it. Because then I was done, it was processed. But it was a special time, really weird.”
There’s a happy ending to this child’s story: after 25 years of drug addiction, her father got clean, and is part of her life again, after being absent from it for most of her childhood years.
“It is, of course, a relationship that doesn’t have a fundamental basis in childhood, but it’s as good as this can get under the circumstances. He’s a remarkable man. What he has achieved, getting clean after all those years, respect.”
She may not have had a strong male role model in her formative years, but Karijord was never short of strong, Scandinavian women in her life; her grandmother worked on a Norwegian oil rig, while her mother, an artist and sculptor, wielded a huge influence through her craft and storytelling. It left her with an inquisitiveness about the male psyche that she explores in such tracks as Oh Brother.
It’s no coincidence that the album as a whole features the deep, bassy voice of her collaborator (and record label boss) Jacob Snavely, counterbalancing her own clear, melodic soprano, and a male voice choir swelling beneath Karijord’s delicately plucked electric harp. Another striking aspect to the album is Karijord’s use of percussion, which gives the record a primal, pagan force that seems to throb beneath the gently undulating melodies.
“I was thinking of that when I wrote it. I wanted it to sound religious and hedonistic at the same time. Almost like in church, with a church organ and a voice choir, but a love album, with the human body as the church, and love as the religion.
“I know it sounds really big and pretentious, but I wanted to get this feeling that is a big part of the Scandinavian music tradition, this pagan, repetitive folk melody. My family has Sami blood from north Norway, and when you look back in time, what did people do in the winter darkness? You sit around the fireplace and sing, and someone has a drum, and there are these repetitive melodies. And I grew up with the tradition, that’s in me somewhere. I want to explore that more.”