It has been over three years since Caroline Rose released their acclaimed concept album, “Superstar.” In the months following that pivotal release, the musician embarked on a journey of healing and growth. Now, Rose is back with their third album, “The Art of Forgetting”—a breathtaking release that details the musician’s attempt to make peace with their innermost thoughts.
ALRIGHT, SO AM I CORRECT IN SAYING THAT YOUR TOUR STARTS TOMORROW?
Caroline Rose: Well, kind of, yeah. Like, we've played a couple of shows, but they were a couple of the smaller shows. We weren't able to do our live show and stuff like that. So tomorrow begins the first full production day.
NICE. HOW ARE YOU FEELING?
CR: I mean, I'm actually feeling pretty good about it. It's been like, nonstop for all of us for weeks now. And I realized yesterday, I haven't had a day off yet. And last night, I could feel myself starting to get a little bit sick. So I was like, immediately to bed.
CR: Yeah, but I'm feeling pretty good, and we've had our trials and tribulations of course, but it's going to be a beautiful show. I'm really excited about it.
YEAH, I THINK I SAW SOME OF THE LIGHTS ON INSTAGRAM. THEY LOOKED AWESOME! WERE YOU A PART OF THAT CREATIVE PROCESS AND PRODUCTION?
CR: Yeah, so, I love this stuff. It's so creative. I was an architecture student, so it's a fun project to figure out how to create something and build something that translates to all these different stages. And there's so much thought process that you have to go through in order to make it work. I started with just using little models, like little handheld lights, and kind of came up with the ideas of what I was thinking. But it also has to be something that packs down really well and can fit into a trailer—something that's lightweight. It's just a huge challenge, and it felt like I was a student again.
So that was the first process, and then the second process was actually building it. I used a lot of theater techniques for the lighting show, which I'm really excited about because I didn't want to give too much away on social media. But yeah, I had somebody program the lights. He was really great, and he has done a lot of really amazing light shows. And then my bandmate Glenn, she's just like an all-around savvy tech, programmed all the projectors. So we're doing projection mapping. They're like, the whole thing. Yeah, it's a production.
YEAH, I GREW UP DOING THEATRE, BUT I WAS NEVER ON THE TECH SIDE. I DON'T THINK MY BRAIN WORKS THAT WAY, BUT I'M VERY IMPRESSED BY PEOPLE WHO CAN THINK LIKE THAT.
CR: Yeah, I mean, hopefully, it works. It's a lot. It's very pro-DIY.
NICE! VERY COOL. THE NEW ALBUM HAS A VERY STRONG AESTHETIC, ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING YOU RELEASED THE SHORT FILM AND VARIOUS MUSIC VIDEOS. IS THAT WHAT INSPIRED THE STAGE PRODUCTION AS WELL?
CR: I think of them as two different things. I think, just because the short film, it really only tells a part of the album, you know? Obviously, we can't make a film of the whole album, that would be just an enormous budget. But it really told more of the relationship aspect of the album, and the show to me feels more like an all-encompassing story. It's not just about a relationship. It's more about the process of healing and learning how to face yourself when you really don't want to. So it will reflect that—just the kind of images that I have in my head when I hear the songs.
DEFINITELY. YEAH, I REALLY ENJOYED ALL THE POSTS ON YOUR INSTAGRAM. YOUR CAPTIONS ARE REALLY BEAUTIFULLY WORDED. EVERYTHING YOU HAD TO SAY ABOUT SELF-LOVE AND HEALING, I REALLY LOVED. I KNOW SELF-LOVE IS KIND OF A VAGUE TERM. IT CAN BE INTERPRETED IN A LOT OF DIFFERENT WAYS. IS THERE SOMETHING SPECIFIC THAT YOU FEEL WHEN YOU HEAR IT?
CR: Well, I think a lot about self-compassion and the fact that I literally didn't even understand what it was when I first started writing this record. I remember somebody was like, "Have you read this book, it's called Self-Compassion?" And I've never really been into a lot of like "woo woo" stuff. I was in so much pain at that time, and just so desperate to heal in some way.
My friend was like, "If you don't want to read the book, just watch this video." And there's this part of this video—it was like a TED talk or something—where she talks about, "Do you ever ask yourself why you're suffering? Or do you ever recognize even if you are suffering?" And it was like a faucet of tears just started pouring out of my head, because I just hadn't been recognizing my own suffering for so long. I hadn't treated myself like I treat literally every other person in my life, with compassion and kindness. And so to direct that towards me was like learning how to ride—not even a bicycle—like a tiny tricycle. It was like learning T-ball or something. I was so bad at it, and even still, I find myself in moments where I'm completely beating myself up over something that is not even really my fault. So I think it's going to be just like a lifelong practice for me.
I DEFINITELY AGREE WITH THAT. IT'S HARD TO CATCH YOURSELF ENGAGING IN THAT NEGATIVE SELF-TALK BECAUSE EVERYONE DOES IT. IT'S SORT OF NORMALIZED AT THIS POINT, SO TO BE ABLE TO BREAK OUT OF THAT CYCLE IS DEFINITELY A LIFELONG PRACTICE.
GOING OFF OF THAT, DID YOU WANT TO TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE ALBUM [THE ART OF FORGETTING]? I KNOW IT'S DEEPLY PERSONAL TO YOU, SO AS MUCH DETAIL AS YOU WANT TO GIVE IS FINE. BUT A LOT OF FANS, MYSELF INCLUDED, HAVE REALLY CONNECTED WITH IT, SO I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT IT.
CR: Yeah, well, yeah. There's a lot to say, but I guess, an abridged version is that I started it when I was losing my mind making my last record. That was sort of the beginning of the process. I think I really burned myself out, in a lot of ways. Just doing way too much by myself and having a hard time asking for help. I'm like a control freak most of the time.
But then, you know, all the shows got canceled. Superstar came out on March 6, 2020, so it was all of this time and energy and money—not just mine, but everyone's—that was sunk into this thing that we were trying to build and had all these expectations for. We had all these sold-out shows, and it was seemingly very exciting, but I was so burned out and so lost, I could barely even enjoy myself.
Then, all the shows got canceled, and one half of me was like, "Oh, thank God, I can have a break from this.” Then, the other half, as soon as that settled in, like what it actually meant, I felt like I had not put any love or attention into my own personal bucket. It had gone all into other things, my career and relationship, and I was saving very little for myself.
And, you know, by the time I realized that, it was almost too late. My relationship was disintegrating. It felt like my career, all this hard work, just kind of went poof. It was just a difficult time, and that's kind of where it started, like: "All right. What do I do now? Do I even want to play music anymore?" That's when things sort of started to shift. Because music, to me, when I take the business and career out of it entirely, it's just always been a vessel, an emotional outlet, a vessel for my emotions, always. And it became that again, in a really pure way. It was just like a beautiful experience to play music—just sit there, look out the window, noodle on the guitar, and write a song or not write a song. I could just enjoy the act of making something.
So it started like that, and it was like that for a while. I didn't really have any intention to make an album, but the more I was writing songs, the more I was like, "I'm telling a story, you know? I'm documenting every single moment of this process that I'm going through." I'd start to heal a little bit and then write about it, and then I'd have a moment of humor and write about it. Then, at a certain point, I'm like, "I know what I want this record to sound like."
I was thinking about collaborating more, like maybe having somebody produce it, just for my own mental health, really. But I just kept imagining what I wanted it to look and sound like, and that actually ended up being easy. It was a joy to make it, and I did it totally differently. There were no deadlines. I didn't involve any business people. No one heard it—except for maybe three people, two people—and then when it was finally done, I was like, "Here's the record. I'm not changing anything."
THAT'S AWESOME! I MEAN, IT SOUNDS LIKE IT JUST CAME TOGETHER SO NATURALLY. I THINK THAT SPEAKS TO YOU AS AN ARTIST THAT YOU WERE ABLE TO PUT THAT TOGETHER. IT JUST CAME RIGHT OUT OF YOU.
CR: It did come together really naturally because I just didn't put any pressure on myself. And you know, I think it was a big life lesson for me. I make the best work when I don't have any pressure on me. You know, I didn't really have any pressure on me when I made Loner, until the very end. I look back on that, and I'm like, "That could have been prevented." Each time I make an album, there's always one moment where I'm like, "Not going to do that again."
But yeah, this time, it was just a joy, and I really loved making it. I worked a lot with a mix engineer, Beatriz Artola, and she was very patient with me. You know, I'd be like, "I'm going to redo this song." She'd be like, "Okay."
HAVE YOU WORKED WITH HER IN THE PAST?
CR: No, but I want to work with her forever more. I love her so much, and I think she's a genius.
THAT'S INCREDIBLE! IT'S NICE WHEN YOU FIND SOMEONE THAT YOU IMMEDIATELY CLICK WITH LIKE YOU UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER AND SEE EACH OTHER.
CR: Oh, yeah, I think she's brilliant.
AWESOME. YOU TALK ABOUT UNPLUGGING AND JUST PLAYING GUITAR AND SEEING WHAT COMES OF IT, THEN TRANSITIONING INTO ACTUAL SOUND ENGINEERING AND PRODUCTION WORK. HOW WAS THAT FOR YOU?
CR: It's kind of a long process, just the way I work, or at least on this one it was. On Superstar, it was kind of different, because I just sort of slapped everything together all at once. But this was a very methodical process that I had from the moment I was like, "This is going to be an album, and I'm going to do it differently this time."
I broke it up into three chapters, like three segments. The first segment was just getting all the songs right. I'm just trying to make the songs as good as they could be on their own without any real production. So I was in the studio just by myself, tracking all the basic acoustic instrumentation and vocals. I was like, "How good can I make this song with just these basic elements?"
Then, the next part was tracking the rest of the layers and experimenting with the other elements. I'd have these playlists of drum sounds and stuff like that. I tracked the drums in John Joseph's studio, and he is such a brilliant engineer. He's also a brilliant producer. The drum sounds that he was able to get were like monstrous, so it was a little bit of experimenting each time I got into the studio during this second segment of making the album.
Then, I did another session with just modular stuff where we processed all the audio that I tracked from the first segment, just guitar, piano, and vocals. Then, we modulated that stuff to create two textures. I worked with Nick from Sylvan Esso on that. I met him when I was tracking alone in his studio in North Carolina. I had this idea of what I wanted to do, and he was like, "Oh, I love this idea! Let me show you some things." We just sort of nerded out! So then I had all this audio. It was like, layers and layers and layers and layers of audio. I tracked the bass over the drums that we had done and other little things, but there's really not a whole lot of instrumentation on the album.
Then, the third part was taking all of this stuff and chiseling it into an album that tells a specific story, like "How am I going to tell this story in a way that makes sense?" I feel like all of my albums are kind of like this, but especially this one and the last one. To me, they flow like a movie, like some sort of film, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. And that was really the whole thing.
YEAH, THAT'S AWESOME! I LIKE WHAT YOU SAID ABOUT THE LAYERS OF AUDIO BECAUSE YOU CAN REALLY HEAR THEM WHEN LISTENING TO THE ALBUM—THE SPEAKING PARTS AND THE CHOIRS. THERE ARE JUST A LOT OF LITTLE "EASTER EGGS" IN THERE THAT CAN BE UNPACKED, WHICH I REALLY ENJOY.
CR: Oh, that's great. I love that.
YEAH, IT'S VERY COOL. VERY COOL. SO, FOR THIS TOUR, IS THERE A SPECIFIC SHOW YOU'RE MOST EXCITED ABOUT OR A PLACE THAT YOU'RE EXCITED TO SEE?
CR: Not really. I'm excited for people to just hear it and see it and experience it. Because, you know, there's so much planning involved and so much prep time. I just thought about it in my head. Then, you know, we've been building it, so we're watching it. It's like transforming from this thing that was in my head into this big stage-wide performance. It's wild to see.
So I'm just excited for other people to see it besides us. You know, we've just been holed away in this windowless venue forever making this thing. I mean, all the rooms that we're playing in are so beautiful and have such good sound systems and big stages. You know, I just hope anyone comes at all.
WELL, I KNOW A LOT OF PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY HERE IN BOSTON, ARE EXCITED ABOUT THE SHOW. SO YEAH, I MEAN THAT MUST HAVE BEEN CRAZY TO HAVE SOMETHING IN YOUR BRAIN AND THEN SEE IT COME TO LIFE.
CR: It's a pretty wild feeling. Yeah.
THAT'S PRETTY MUCH ALL I HAVE TODAY. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR TALKING TO ME. THIS HAS BEEN WONDERFUL!
CR: Oh, of course. Yeah. Thanks. Thanks so much for your very thoughtful questions.
THANKS! WELL, GOOD LUCK. AND I LOOK FORWARD TO WATCHING TOUR VIDEOS AND SEEING EVERYTHING.
CR: Yeah, I think we're coming to Boston really soon, like Thursday or something?
CR: Well, thanks so much, Claire.
YEAH, THANK YOU. HAVE A GOOD DAY!