Caroline Rose’s sophomore album Loner (out February 23 on New West) has been described as a “set of serious songs wrapped in a sprightly, angst-fueled pop burrito,” so how could we not snatch her up for our newest NoiseTrade One-on-One? During our chat, Rose opens up about the writing and recording of Loner, muses on the progression of her sound between her debut and this follow-up, and discusses production work, music videos, and more!
NoiseTrade: As someone who never really appears to be lacking for friends and collaborators in your professional persona, where’d the title of your new album Loner come from?
Caroline Rose: Are you trying to tell me I have no friends? Haha, just kidding! I try not to take things too seriously these days, so the title is really just poking fun at myself. I’ve always felt like a weirdo in my own little world I’ve created and I’ve definitely been a loner my whole life. But that’s not to be confused with being anti-social, which I’m not because I like to party. I just like being alone with my thoughts and my creations and such.
NT: I love the creative step forward in adventurous and experimental sounds between your debut album and Loner. What were some of the inspirations and decisions that contributed to this evolution in your songwriting and recording techniques?
Rose: Thank you! The biggest inspiration was trying to make music that sounded more like my personality, which is difficult because a personality is made up of a lot of elements. For the longest time, I wanted to be taken seriously. Eventually, I just hit a point where I was like, “Why am I trying so hard to be this more boring version of myself?” So I bought some new equipment and new instruments, I wrote a ton, I experimented, and just tried different stuff for almost two years until I felt like it was both exciting and new, fun and serious, nonsensical and emotional. That it sounded like me.
NT: You’ve also been focusing more on the production side of the recording process recently. What drives your interests in that area and why is it important for you to have your own studio to produce yourself and other artists?
Rose: Well, now having worked with a handful of really great producers, some of the magical mysteries of music production have been revealed to me. It made me realize I can definitely direct and finish projects on my own. I’d had it in my head that to be a producer you need a PhD in music and wear a pinky ring and gold chain or something, but really so much of it comes down to how you communicate with the artist, your skill in being able to deliver the songs to meet their max potential, and having confidence. I definitely have all those things now and the wheels have already been turning as to how I’ll approach the next record. To run my own studio is the end goal, but I’d like a handful more years of experience before I get there.
NT: You filmed some really whimsical music videos for “Soul No. 5” and “Money” off of your new album. First, what can you tell us about the experiences of recording each video? Second, what role do you think music videos serve in today’s scene as opposed to what they did back in the ‘80s and ‘90s?
Rose: Oh man, I used to hate making music videos because I truly deplored seeing myself on screen – which is doubly comical now because I basically play almost all the parts in them. Though budgets are the teensiest fraction of what they were for vids in the ’90s and early 2000s, I think they’re still hugely important. They allow things like humor and satire – things that might hard to detect in songs – to really be brought to life. To me, the visuals are almost 50% of the experience. I tend to write the first treatment really quickly, so it’s as fresh an idea as I can muster. For “Money,” the original treatment was way weirder – I wrote a mysterious pill-induced-topless-dance-rave into it – which my record label didn’t really understand. That was also the first video, so I’m glad we dialed it back a bit. Horatio Baltz was great to work with because he has a weird twisted brain like mine and I really love his aesthetic. For “Soul No. 5,” I wanted it to be a mix between a ’90s hip-hop video and Napoleon Dynamite, so I wrote and directed it almost like a parody. It ended up being pretty different than my original but I think it came out pretty hilarious.
NT: To close things out on the music video theme, what are some of your favorite music videos of all time and if you could re-record one with yourself in the lead role, which one would you go for?
Rose: Oh man, I think the late ’90s/early 2000s was the golden age of music vids, though I think there are some incredible things being made today as well. Michel Gondry and Spike Jonze made some of the best of all time. I think if I could re-make “Drop” by The Pharcyde, that would be amazing. Spike Jonze did that one. Some videos I’ve seen recently that I really loved are Alex Cameron’s “Stranger’s Kiss” directed by Jemima Kirke, “I Wanna Prove To You” by the Lemon Twigs, and basically every Tyler the Creator music video ever.
When writer Will Hodge (@will_hodge) isn’t letting all the fly skimmies feel the beat mmm…drop, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack