Unique composer duo Rebekka Karijord & Jon Ekstrand create compelling, hybrid score to intimate portrait of teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg
‘I Am Greta’, the intimate Hulu documentary by Swedish director Nathan Grossman, tells the story of teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg through compelling, never-before-seen-footage. Starting with her one-person school strike for climate action outside the Swedish Parliament, Grossman follows Greta – a shy student with Asperger’s – in her rise to prominence and her galvanizing global impact as she sparks school strikes around the world. The film culminates with the extraordinary wind-powered voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to speak at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City.
To musically accompany Greta and the children of the Fridays for Future movement on their journey, composers Rebekka Karijord and Jon Ekstrand spent quite a lot of time searching for the right balance when it comes to how much emotional triggers the music should offer: “With the music for “I Am Greta” we aimed to find a sonic counterpoint to the friction between the shy, contemplative inner world of Greta, and the unbounded energy of the natural world and climate change movement. From the start we found it useful to separate the score into three distinct voices: Greta´s Voice, the voice of the natural world, and the voice of the climate change movement.”
Through the sketching process, Rebekka and Jon discovered that when they set more melodic music to the pictures it just did not meld: “It came off as too sentimental in relation to Greta as a person. Too leading, somehow. So we choose to work with repetition and persistent musical patterns, often illustrated through energetic string arpeggios. This we felt helped underline the remarkable persistence and focus Greta has on the climate issue, as well as that of the relentlessness of nature. Then we found a few places throughout the score, where more melodic aspects could be introduced and carry the story through its dramaturgical journey. It allowed the melodic aspects to shine through when they are introduced.”
The synergy between the two composers with very different backgrounds as well as the blend of classic instrumentation andusage of electro acoustic elements led to a unique, compelling score: “The score consists of a string octet, modular synthesizers and a voice instrument built by Rebekka of 25 unique singers sampled in their full range. Our soloist on the soundtrack is the cellist Linnea Olsson, whom has a very specific airy and organic tone. From the first sketch recordings with Linnea it just felt like this was the tone of the soundtrack.”
“Our endless muse in writing this score has been a tremendous respect for Greta and all the children in the Fridays for Future movement. “
“Rebekka and Jon’s dynamic score to ‘I Am Greta’ is massive and intimate, uplifting and melancholic, and manages to carry the emotional nuance of Greta’s story. The score forms a musical parallel to Greta’s journey and narrative voice throughout the film. It’s energy, urgency and emotional depth reminds us that the time for climate action is now.” – Nathan Grossman, director of ‘I Am Greta’
Rebekka Karijord is a composer and musician originally from Sandnessjøen, just south of the arctic circle in Northern Norway. Over the course of her career she has composed music for over 30 films, modern dance performances and theatrical pieces, as well as released six solo albums under her own name.
Projects in 2020 include the score to Hulu documentary “I Am Greta” about climate activist Greta Thunberg, HBO doc thriller “Pray, Obey, Kill” and the album “Complete Mountain Almanac”, a collaboration with Bryce and Aaron Dessner (The National) based upon the poems of Jessica Dessner with songs by Rebekka.
Karijord holds a degree from the prestigious Stockholm Royal Dramatic Institute and has an extensive education within fine arts. Over the course of her early career she developed her unique voice through experience as a musician, actor, playwright and composer, working alongside directors including Joachim Trier, Eskil Vogt and Margreth Olin.
Her breadth of experience and skills as a studio technician, songwriter and programmer have allowed her to work on a diverse range of commissioned projects. From film scores to theatre productions for The Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm and The National Opera House in Norway to sound design for The National Museum in Norway. Karijord writes for all kinds of constellations, from orchestras and ensembles to more intimate electro acoustic scores.
With her in-depth experience Karijord has developed a sharply intuitive dramaturgical understanding of what a film needs emotionally, and many of the projects she has chosen to work on have a clear humanistic and political agenda.
Jon Ekstrand is a Stockholm based Swedish film composer and artist. Ekstrand began his career under the mentorship of acclaimed sound designer Owe Svensson, where he sharpened his skills at understanding the power of sound and its dramaturgic importance in helping a story realize its potential. In 1998, whilst attending Stockholm Film School, Ekstrand met Director Daniel Espinosa, in which the two formed a tight creative relationship which continues to this day.
Ekstrand and Espinosa have collaborated on 7 feature films, including the hit “Easy Money” Trilogy as well as Hollywood Studio Films, “Child 44”, “Life” and is currently scoring the Marvel film “Morbius”. Jon has had a rich career within film, having worked the entire spectrum of the sound team, from boom operator, sound recordist, to sound designer and today as accoladed composer. Ekstrand is a self-confessed synthesizer addict, and generally starts building his scores around electro acoustic elements. His scores range in genre from more minimal arthouse ambient to epic thriller drama´s, where he has recorded with full orchestra´s at both Air Studio in London, Colombia Studio´s and Sony Studio´s in Los Angeles. To date Ekstrand has scored over 30 films and TV series, has been nominated for Three Swedish Gullbagge Awards, and in January of 2020 was awarded The Danish Film Institutes Robert Award, for his 2019 score to the film Queen of Hearts.
Ekstrand is actively engaged in the current diversity dilemma within the film industry and is part of a composer’s mentorship program arranged through the Swedish collecting society STIM.
Original MUSIC BY: Rebekka Karijord and Jon Ekstrand
Music Orchestrated and Conducted By: Rebekka Karijord & Jon Ekstrand
Music Mixed By: Jason Larocca, at LaRoccafella center
Additional Soundtrack Mixing: Jacob Snavely & Anders af Klintberg
Soundtrack Mastering: Anders af Klintberg
Composer assistant & additional string arranging: Kirsten Evans
Score Performed by:
Label: OONA Recordings – www.oonarecordings.com