The inward-looking propagation of encouragement that flows out from every warm rise and swells of Rikke Normann's remarkably kaleidoscopic single, "redefine yourself," shouldn't feel foreign.
John Legend looked to her for a phenomenal guest vocal appearance at the 2017 Nobel Peace Price Awards concert, and through what seems like an incredible campaign of inspired songwriting success, Rikke released two albums in 2019, remarkably.
Most recently, though, the Norwegian intoner has been hidden away, hunkered down in a cabin someplace out in Gudbrandsdalenmostto, recording an archipelago of heart-wrenching and hope-building incantations for her imminent sonic downpour—and "redefine yourself" is the teasing gem from that audible precipitation, coupling the very essence of motivation toward change.
Rikke Normann has felt the turbulence with the concept of change, and the complete dissociation it can cause, and though it may be the only certainty in life—change is inevitable. Normann expresses her battles enveloped around losing sight of herself: "wake up one day, and the person you see in the mirror feels like a complete stranger, every part of you is gone." She comments about the topic with en empathetic emphasis when asked about the issue.
It's a sentiment she captures precisely over her latest single "redefine yourself," where Rikke's mystifying and unified vocals build with an intensified unison like no other over the chorus, with a concerto of the resounding mantra-like hook emboldening the expansive atmospheres.
Festooned with prismatic and wide-setting reverbs, Rikke's textural vocals chaperone, the slow-simmering development of energy "redefine yourself," as it steadily and surely rises while the orchestrations of earthy percussion, vivid acoustic guitars, warm horns, and pads swell into their most apex-reaching heights. Here, Rikke buzzes over the hook: "redefine yourself, alone, alone, alone, all you knew is gone, is gone, gone."
Her message is crystal-clear and earns captivation, whirring within the fleshiest part of her stunning ballad, and with falsettos tailing at her ends as the erupting last words crown over, "the box you were placed in, the walls, they fell apart, who you relied on, who you've been from the start, redefine yourself!"
It's a declaration to gather your spirits and accept change with open arms—whether it feels good or bad—and only Rikke Normann could deliver it with such volubility and charity behind every instrument and every roaring top-line she so eagerly provides fans each year.
Can you run us through the inception of "redefine yourself," and it's recording process? Where does your songwriting journey start, on paper, with a melody, or in a DAW?
That’s a very interesting question and I think I’ll have to start off by saying I’m an old-shool singer-songwriter in that sense. All songs and music start with me and my piano or whatever keyboard's available to me when inspiration comes (that can even be the tiny digital piano on my phone, cause when in need, haha) But, yeah, most of the time (and almost all the time) it starts with me hearing melodies mashed together with a sentence or some words in my head, and that’s when I rush to a piano to let it flow out. But sometimes, like with “redefine yourself”, I don’t really know where it comes from until it’s already there. It’s like some songs are baking inside me until they are ready to come out fully finished with lyrics, chords, and everything. I think I wrote “redefine yourself” in ten-fifteen minutes, cause that was one of those songs.
What are the most powerful emotions you found yourself tuning into for the performances you've captured on "redefine yourself?"
Emotionally, I think I tapped into a soothing but kind of confident feeling on this. I wasn’t sad although I had been going through time not really knowing who I was anymore. I kind of liked the new me I was starting to see, but it was still a frightening process to let go of everything I knew, including parts of myself, but somehow I just knew it would be alright. When it comes to the actual singing, we recorded this song live as a band, including the vocals, so it came very naturally. We all understood and felt the same vibe and emotion of the song, and to me, it musically feels like a gentle push in the right direction, and when you reach the end you come outstanding a bit taller, calmer, and happier. It’s all in the arrangement for me, being carried by a band that understands you and feel the same way, you don’t have to try to be someone other than yourself.
Where does "redefine yourself" stand artistically in comparison to the 10 other songs you've been working on in Gudbrandsdalen most recently?
I would say it’s the wiser one of the 11 siblings;) And also one of the slower. Let’s just say at least 9 of the others are more uptempo and have a lot of happiness or playfulness to them;)
If you could say a few words that would act like the Prologue for the new Music you've been working on recently, what would you say and why?
It’s the most me of everything I’ve ever made! I’ve taken control musically and put myself in the driving seat, co-producing it together with my boyfriend as well as playing keys on all tracks myself! The new music is just very me, topics, and lyrics with a deeper meaning, playfully hidden in fun melodies and musical arrangements. And as always it’s very varied, many different colors!
This year has certainly been hard for musicians and artists all over the world. What has been the biggest source of inspiration while creating new music this year?
Oh my god, there have been so many ups and downs, and a lot of my musical inspiration has come from all the emotions we’ve been feeling, but there has also been the inspiration for something totally new, at least to me. My biggest inspiration has actually been being able to slow down. I've had time to listen to both myself and the people I love around me, I’ve had time to play and have fun with music again, as well as other simple things like running and being outside, and that to me is very inspiring! The slower pace made me not take things too seriously which means more playfulness and a new way of caring for songs, conversations, people, and music. It’s like I’ve found a lot of great new music in stillness and slowing down.