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Rising singer-songwriter Caroline Rose talks about her music, growing up in Center Moriches

Singer-songwriter Caroline Rose grew up in Center Moriches.

Singer-songwriter Caroline Rose grew up in Center Moriches. Credit: Kayl Cooper

For Caroline Rose, the rising singer-songwriter and Center Moriches native, March was looking very, very good.

After making her TV debut (on “Late Night with Seth Meyers”), she’d just this month released her newest album (“Superstar”), debuted on Billboard’s Top 50 Emerging Artists chart (coming in at number 24) and commenced a 27-city concert tour. Then came  coronavirus — and now the tour is postponed, and Rose is left (like all of us) in limbo.

The alt-country turned indie-pop singer scored favorable attention for her breakout LP “Loner” back in 2018, brandishing an irreverent stage persona with a fondness for all-red tracksuits, and a cheeky theatrical flair in her videos. (Think “Killing Eve’s” Jodie Comer, but singing, not stabbing.) Her follow-up concept album, “Superstar,” offers infectious, synth-swathed melodies and a fun video for her lead single’s “Feel the Way I Want,” which she filmed on her iPhone. In it, she swagger-dances cross-country when she learns her big audition isn’t in Hollywood but—oops—Hollywood, Florida.

Newsday contributor Joseph V. Amodio recently caught up with Rose, 30, on the phone as she drove cross-country with her band.  

What a mess, huh?
Yeah, it’s definitely pretty weird right now.

Let’s talk about something nicer — your earliest memories of making music.
I took piano lessons and did every music program in school you can do — I was in musical theater, I played trombone and flute, guitar in jazz band, sang in jazz chorus. I was like the go-to scat soloist, which is…. (She pauses.) My band is laughing right now. Yeah, I “joked-scat” all the time. But I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. I knew I’d probably go into something creative. It wasn’t till I was an early teenager that music started impacting me, when I became really sad, and needed some sort of outlet.

This is at Center Moriches High School?
My dad went there, my grandpa, his dad. My dad’s family has been on Long Island for eight or nine generations. It’s like embedded in me. My great grandfather and great uncle were duck hunters, fishermen. But my grandpa worked in architecture. And my parents are both artists.

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So they broke the mold.
Yeah. My dad tells this story, how all the sons would go out with their dads duck hunting…and…my dad clipped a bird’s wings, and it didn’t die right away. He was so moved, he just was bawling — and never hunted again. (She chuckles.) Yeah, we’re a bunch of softies.

When did you start taking music seriously?
When I started writing songs — it was a direct relationship to something bigger than me. My first song was called “Out of Time,” which is funny, because my biggest anxiety in life is feeling like I’m running out of time. It was an existential song in a weird tuning  — it made all these beautiful chords. So that became an outlet…I was probably 13, maybe 14, at the time.  

What made you want to write it?
I’ve struggled my whole life with an explosion of thoughts in my head. Feeling isolated. I was a little queer kid, struggling with my identity. I guess I just feel la lot. I have to put that somewhere.

You studied architecture at Wellesley. Weird question, but is your music architectural? Do those two worlds intersect?
Absolutely. (In both) you have to be in tune with your surroundings and your emotions. As an architect, you imagine how you’ll feel moving throughout a space. It’s the same with a song. There are ways of moving through a song like you’d move through a building. I like approaching architecture with a musical mindset. It allows me to think about things other architects don’t. Like the acoustics — if I go into a restaurant with a big vaulted ceiling and the room wasn’t designed for any acoustic treatment, it’ll be really loud, and feel different than an intimate restaurant where you might want to go on a date. The sound of a room is as important as the light.

I hate when rooms are too loud. Too bad you didn’t pursue architecture.
Maybe I will. Maybe I’ll go back to it one day.

Where are you now?
We’re driving to a Jiffy Lube in Pennsylvania to get an oil change. Very sexy.

But necessary.
Very. Tonight we’ll hopefully make it back to Vermont to drop off my bandmates and maybe take a day or two to relax from all this madness. Then I’ll mosey on down to my house in Austin.

It’s all uncharted territory right now. I guess we just have to keep our minds and hearts open, and we’ll get to the other side… somehow.
Yeah, I agree. We have to be optimistic.

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