Caroline Rose on “The Art of Forgetting” | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, July 18th, 2024  

Caroline Rose on “The Art of Forgetting”

Getting to the Door

Oct 24, 2023 Issue #71 - Weyes Blood and Black Belt Eagle Scout Photography by Cristina Fisher Bookmark and Share

Back in early 2020, Caroline Rose (who uses they/them pronouns) was gearing up to release their fourth album, Superstar. The concept album featured Rose as a larger-than-life pop singer, and Rose the real singer had spent months and months constructing every moment of the record. But then the pandemic struck, and Superstar’s release was stifled.

“It’s just hilarious to me that I wrote this album about a person who kind of leaves everything behind to pursue this crazy dream and in the process, loses themselves,” says Rose. “That’s exactly what happened to me.”

Rose worked tirelessly on Superstar, missing life events, weddings, and bar mitzvahs. And then, just days after the album’s release, everything fell to pieces. They couldn’t tour, they couldn’t promote the album via traditional methods. “After that, I was picking up the pieces of my life, and I started just writing about how I felt. It was all very natural.”

So that’s how their new album, The Art of Forgetting, came about: very naturally. After a period where Rose wasn’t even sure they wanted to keep making music, they returned to songwriting in the simplest, purest way possible. They sat with a guitar, or at the piano, and let the music flow out of them. “Every single song was like, ‘I have to write this or I’m going to explode,’” Rose says.

But Rose had to do a lot of work to get to this point. They meditate regularly, they spend regular hours on the Bike to Nowhere (a stationary bike at the gym Rose goes to), and they read, including How to Change Your Mind, Michael Pollan’s book about how psychedelics can help treat depression and anxiety. And over the pandemic, Rose took a lot of acid and mushrooms, but, they clarify, “not for fun.”

“It was for a personal journey, prying out the demons,” Rose says. “And I’ve just been fascinated about it ever since. I’ve been reading about what happens to the brain when it clears all the clutter, [and how it’s] really similar to how a child’s brain works, where you can be more creative and expansive and open.”

The process of writing The Art of Forgetting was a lot like how Rose used to write songs when they were a teenager, finding joy in the act of sheer expression, regardless of if the finished product was any good.

“In the process of doing that I was like, ‘This is the best stuff I’ve written in a long time.’ It’s more inspired, and I don’t even care about it. Turns out you don’t have to care about something deeply in order for it to be expressive and good.”

Rose ended up writing lots of songs (on a classical guitar a fan had given them) over the course of a year, recording to a Voice Memo, and saw they had been documenting everything they’d been learning about themself. All the songs they’d been writing were telling a story about what they had been going through.

Later, when the album was finished, Rose chatted to their manager and realized “the album doesn’t even really get into the actual transformation that I feel like is happening in me currently. It’s just the lead up to it. It’s like just getting to a place where you’re just learning how to let go really and let life happen.”

The Art of Forgetting, Rose explains, is the first stage of accepting themselves, of confronting personal pain and trauma, embracing the things they can’t control and trying to let go of things they can: jealousy, anxiety, self-doubt, insecurity.

“This is just the pain and suffering of not understanding how to let go of things,” they explain. “It’s just getting to the door. You’re like, ‘No, no, I won’t go through the door. I won’t go through. I’m scared and it’s painful.’ You’re just creating all this suffering for yourself. That’s what the album is. It’s just getting to the door.”

Throughout the record, Rose includes voicemails of Mee Maw, their 102-year-old grandmother whose memory is fading. “She is a true miracle of science,” Rose says. “She’s from Mississippi and she would eat like Hardee’s biscuits every day and drink Dr. Peppers.” Mee Maw has been calling Rose every day for the last several years, leaving voicemails and often forgetting to hang up. We hear these moments on “Better Than Gold,” “Cornbread,” and “Florida Room,” these scenes of forgetfulness that juxtapose beautifully with Rose’s own desire to forget: two generations of people, both in different stages of forgetting.

In making the record, Rose realized how clear the overlap between therapy and music is, and how exploring themselves through song has done wonders for their therapy practice outside of music.

“I didn’t know how to take care of myself,” Rose says. “I’m still learning, still trying to figure out how to balance all the casualties of life, and still be able to give, give yourself what you need, and be kind to yourself.”

[Note: This article originally appeared in Issue 71 of Under the Radar’s print magazine, which is out now. This is its debut online.]

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