CAROLINE ROSE

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Story/Kristy Guilbault
Photos/Lissy Laricchia

 
Caroline Rose has a history of being antisocial, but not quite in the way that you would assume. With a career rooted in folk, her musical perspective has long been shaped by creative isolation and individualism. However, feeling disjointed from both society and her music – at the turn of Rose’s 25th birthday – the songwriter/producer set out to create a project that embodies her dark sense of humor and production knowledge. Rose’s new album, LONER, light-heartedly dissects a range of topics such as capitalism, isolation, misogyny and death, all the while shrouded in catchy synth hooks and surf guitar.  “I think it’s kind of poking fun at myself, which is another thing that happened over the last few years,” Rose says. “It’s just been me growing up a little bit and not taking myself nearly as seriously as I used to. At the end of the day, I’ll always be kind of the same person, but it’s definitely about me transitioning away from being an island.”
 
Rose began writing music as a teen, using folk narratives as a confessional creative outlet to air diary-style grievances. As her musicianship matured, her gaze shifted from reveling in solitude to the accessible draw of pop. However, the concept of building music for the masses upon a foundation of universal human emotions turned out to be more difficult than she thought. “Pop music is the ultimate way of writing for an audience,” Rose says. “I used to think writing a pop song was like childsplay, but it’s really hard to do. Looking back on it, I’m like wow, I was such a naive idiot.”
 
In contrast to LONER, 2014’s I Will Not be Afraid is hardly recognizable as Rose’s work because of its Rockabilly-tinged terrain. Synth-driven tracks like “Cry!” and “Getting to Me” are far cries from the twangy melodies, accompanied by pedal steel, on Rose’s debut album. She heavily attributes this to the introduction of her touring band – Josh Speers (bass), Willoughby Morse (drums) and garage pop Hammydown’s Abbie Morin (keys/guitar/synth/vocals).  “That really changed things for me,” Rose says. “It’s an interesting dichotomy between writing music for yourself, and writing music with a band. You’re really performing for the audience, and it makes the writing experience completely different, which I find fascinating.”
 
In addition to perfecting the band roster, Rose took her hiatus as an opportunity to explore production further. With the help of Paul Butler (Hurray for the Riff Raff, Michael Kiwanuka, the Bees), LONER deftly achieves Rose’s genre-bending concept dubbed as “schizodrift.” The 11-track project undertakes many mood swings and sudden dynamic changes, best exhibited on the distressing album closer, “Animal.” “Working with engineers and producers that I really respect has been leading me to produce my own work,” Rose says. “It’s definitely something that I would really like to go into, especially since there are so few women in those positions of power in this industry. It’s pretty dismal, actually.”
 
Impassioned by the underrepresentation of female-identifying and non-cisgender producers, Rose’s biggest f-you to misogyny arrives on the album’s most jaunty track. “Bikini” aurally presents itself as a dancey, surf-rock bop, but take a closer look at the lyrics, and a bleak narrative of music industry sexism appears. “I don’t know what prompted it,” Rose says, “but I can tell you that enough misogynistic things happen in a young woman’s life, that there comes a point when you’re just like, fuck this. It’s the little comments that people make. It’s a lot of little things combined.”
 
LONER is brimming with satirical occurrences like “Bikini,” as Rose’s hiatus allowed for her to carefully craft a work in which her potent personality subtly shines through. The four years of growth between her debut and sophomore releases have culminated to an album that uses comedy as a weapon. “I didn’t mean for this album to be as timely as it seems to be,” Rose says. “But it does seem to be coming out at a time when a lot of people are asking these same questions: ‘Why does it feel like I’m treated differently? Why does it feel like I’m being an asshole because I’m demanding that I have co-production on my album, or that I’m demanding to be taken seriously for my writing abilities? Why does it feel like I’m crazy?’ At a certain point, you just gotta throw up your middle fingers and be like, I’m done. I’m just going to do it myself if I have to.”
 

 

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