Caroline Rose on Finding Herself, Buying Crocs, and Complex Pop Music

Taking the Piss

Jun 13, 2018 Issue #63 - Courtney Barnett Photography by Matt Hogan Bookmark and Share


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Picture the opener of Caroline Rose's new album, LONER: you've been invited to an old crush's party, and you can't relate to anyone in the room. The chicks hang back against the wall with their cutesy shorts and other clothes you definitely can't afford, while the dudes slug beers and guffaw at the ping-pong tables. Why are you the only one dancing? Where are your people? 

When Rose found herself at that party several years ago, she didn't know who her people were. Today, she flaunts cherry-red outfits, writes finger-flipping pop songs, and aspires to build her own production studio. But four years ago, as a guitar-toting vagabond from a small town in New York who ditched college for the open road, she hadn't set roots anywhere. Nor did she really want to. "I wanted to be a songwriter, period," says Rose. By 2015, the guitar-slinging writer had played big festivals, popped into NPR for a Tiny Desk gig, and premiered a debut album that both critics and fans raved about.

But something didn't feel right-this serious folksy persona in the limelight wasn't the true Rose. So, instead of rolling on down the highway, she settled into an apartment. "My personal belief is that the art that you're making is just an extension of your life," Rose explains, "and so the way that you're living really dictates the art that you're creating." Ergo, the vagabond wandered into the 21st century-she signed up to Tinder, hung out more, and listened to the music she once dismissed as shallow. "Pop music, I always thought it was simple," she admits. "And now I'm like, 'Oh no-it is the most complex genre.'"

As Rose expanded into the modern world, her songs changed accordingly. Louche Farifsa chords overtook the old steel guitar; dusty lace lyrics were cut to shreds. When Rose stepped into the studio to record fan favorite "I Got Soul," she couldn't feel it anymore. "I had played it for two years, and something always bugged me about it," Rose says. "It was just so earnest." So her co-producer Paul Butler offered some advice: "Just take the piss out of it." From there, Rose turned the love-scorched torch song into a rollicking freestyle on catcalling. "It made me laugh, so I liked the song again," she says.

LONER celebrates a liberated new mode of expression for Rose, one where she can brag unabashedly about buying a new pair of Crocs on the Internet ("I literally got hate messages, almost death threats," she says with a laugh). At the time of our chat, she was plotting a video for the manic control freak kiss-off "Bikini," where she'd invite women and femmes of all body types to frolic on stage in-yep-bikinis. It's a far cry from the rockabilly standards of her old form, although she doesn't discount her former self's work. "The songs that I'm writing now [just] sound a lot more like me," Rose says. She's found her people-the ones that can unwind and dance.

[Note: This article originally appeared in Under the Radar's Spring 2018 Issue (March/April/May 2018), which is out now. This is its debut online.]

www.carolinerosemusic.com

 

 

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Tony Ring
August 23rd 2018
6:01pm

Ms. Rose transcends space and time
Loner = Album of the Year