Caroline Rose really wishes she could make her first album disappear.
It kind of makes sense. The 2014 record, I Will Not Be Afraid, sounds nothing like her follow up, Loner, which was released four years later to much acclaim. Artists change and grow all the time, but this is like two different people. I Will Not Be Afraid is a somber, Americana-roots record, while Loner is a schizophrenic, synth-heavy, indie-pop record injected with a lot of humor.
“It’s a little confusing for people. I don’t really want it to be heard in conjunction with this record, but that’s out of my control,” Rose says. “It’s unfortunate that I can’t go back in time and redo that. I would probably do it differently if I had the chance. I should have waited to put out that album, which probably would have sounded way different if I would have recorded it six months later.”
In the years between albums, she dealt with a lot of personal issues and career issues—including with her label and management—that kept her from releasing new music.
“I didn’t even know if I was going to have a career. I think all the things happening were really valuable life experiences,” Rose says.
That forced hiatus, which she refers to as having her ego “stripped,” gave her a chance to re-evaluate who she was an artist and what she wanted to say. Loner is an incredibly diverse record—surf-punk at moments, low-fi avante-synth-pop at others, with radio-friendly dance pop also in there.
There’s really nothing tying it together except her, and she sounds much more comfortable in this setting than as an acoustic-guitar-slinging Americana troubadour.
“The crux was to make an album that sounds like all the different sides of my personality. The glue of these songs is that it’s written from an honest place,” Rose says. “It’s vignettes, like different parts of my life. Now when I listen to it, I think I succeeded in creating something that sounds like my personality.”
It was a long process getting there. She worked with four different producers, and she learned a lot from each of them. Now she’s confident enough to be her own producer, and she has a bunch of material already ready for her next album.
In the process of writing Loner, she had a fundamental shift in perspective.
“I came to realize being a musician is more than just songs to me. How I decorate the stage, how the live show feels and what the music videos look like. I think I just became way more developed in the whole form of artistry, rather than just writing songs,” Rose says. “I feel so much more liberated now.”
As she worked on material for what would be Loner, Rose struggled to find her sound. But she was inspired by musician friends who were brave and creative. During her Americana days, she thought she needed to not listen to other people’s music, out of fear that she would sound like everyone else. Then she realized these influences were pushing her in new and exciting ways.
“I had enough of those little nudges here and there that I was like, ‘You know what? I can just combine all this stuff.’ Just put it in a blender and put a little drink umbrella on it. You don’t have to choose just one thing,” Rose says. “I think Beck is really good at that. He took all of his favorite things and all his favorite styles, and he injected his humor and personality into it. That’s what people latch onto is the personality.”
Caroline Rose will perform at 9 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 27 at Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $15. 429-6994.