Singled Out: Rebecca Karpen's 23

Keavin Wiggins | 04-23-2024

Singled Out: Rebecca Karpen's 23

NYC-based singer-songwriter Rebecca Karpen just released her new single "23", and to celebrate we asked her to tell us about the deeply personal track. Here is the story:

In German, the word "Treppenwitz" translates literally to "staircase joke." It's not actually a joke about stairs, it refers to when you come up with a witty comeback to a remark that left you speechless far too late. A lot of my songs are rich in staircase jokes; the sexy line uttered as I walk away from someone who didn't deserve me, the incendiary insult incinerating a dishonest former friend, the glorious tirade unloaded onto a sh*tty boss as I hand in my two weeks notice. We all fantasize about our staircase jokes, but we never tell them, and we never get that last laugh.

23, putting it bluntly, is my staircase joke. It was born of nights I lay awake, unable to escape the past. It was the product of talking to the mirror and imagining slamming doors and walking away with my pride intact. It was conceived during frustrating conversations with the people I love most in the world, where it felt like we were speaking two different languages. I wrote 23 about someone who made me feel like a joke, a joke that was told over and over and over again. A joke that wasn't funny. I wrote this song in the middle of the night after obsessing over the line "I've got a Christ complex for the ages, I would kill myself to be a guardian angel" for a solid year. I must've written at least 50 different songs in an attempt to build a home deserving of such a good line. As I stared at the ceiling repeating the line over and over and over, I shot up and screamed "I got pretty close when I got pretty close to you" and finished the song in an hour.

It was a weird hour of the night, but incredibly restless to share this song, I began scouring for green circles on social media, desperate for whichever unfortunate friend was awake at this hour to weigh in on my latest creation. The only person up at that time was the boyfriend of a friend I had met over tumblr in high school. I had stayed with them in Wales a few years back so I felt Josh and I were friendly enough. I knew he made music, I hadn't listened to any of it. He knew I made music, I was sure he hadn't listened to any of it. I texted him at around 2:30 in the morning and said as much but asked if he would be willing to listen to a song I had written that was eight minutes long and just let me know if it was garbage or not. He graciously obliged (thanks Josh Elton, you're a star). He messaged me later that day and said it was "certainly not garbage. But are you okay?"

"Yes," I laughed. "I wasn't for a long time, but I am now."

Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen and watch for yourself below and learn more about Rebecca here

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Singled Out: Rebecca Karpen's 23

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