With hopes to inspire young musicians similar to herself, LaGuardia’s own Caroline Meade has recently released her debut album, Grow Up. Poetically highlighting the twists and turns of adolescence, her latest music speaks to her audience and resonates with young hearts.
On May 13, 2019, I had the pleasure of interviewing Caroline and listening to her speak about her experiences with songwriting, singing, performing, and being a student all at the same time. In the Q&A interview below, read about her introduction to music, her inspiration, her creative process, and her message for her listeners.
Interviewer: Elena Giardina
Interviewee: Caroline Meade
Elena: So, when did you start getting into music? Who or what introduced you to it?
Caroline: I have no one in my family that is a musician. My parents work in music television, so I was kind of around that as a little child, but it was not something I- I think it’s actually skewed my view on music because it was something that was super attainable to me. And I was like, Oh, that’s normal. Those were the first jobs that I was exposed to- being a musician. I was like, Oh, that’s a really normal, attainable thing, and my parents kind of went the same way about it. They were like, “You do whatever you want”. But, yeah, they’re not musicians. And my mom always took me to a lot of Broadway shows, and that was like my first thing- musical theater. I was eight when I started taking singing lessons. I was eight years old; I thought I was the shit because my voice matured. And then I took voice lessons, and I was not the shit, and they were really super hard for me. I had a really hard teacher, and I’m definitely really grateful that I had that, but singing was like hard work for me. It didn’t come naturally. When I started taking lessons my teacher was super technique-based, and I kind of was like- all my ego crashed for so long. But yeah, I was eight years old when I started getting into it.
Elena: When did you start songwriting?
Caroline: Songwriting was towards the end of eighth grade. It was really something I never thought I could do because- I don’t know why, but I just thought, I don’t play an instrument; I’ll never be able to do it. I’ll never be able to songwrite, and I’ll never be able to play an instrument. And that was just not true. I started writing songs a capella at the end of eighth grade, and when I got to LaGuardia I started doing that more. My locker is right outside the New Music room, and I was like, Oh my God! These people are so cool! I really want to do this! And then I found people to work with, and then I eventually learned an instrument. I play guitar now. I worked with my instrumentalist friends on songs that I did a capella. So, I started out collaborating and then started writing.
Elena: So is that what your creative process is like, working with other people and putting things together?
Caroline: Now it’s kind of not. I used my friends as like… like, I never… Honestly, and this is so bad, but I never finish a song without showing my friends because I really appreciate their opinions. And my mom, too. Although with my mom I have to take it with a grain of salt because we’re from different generations and, ya know… Yeah, so it’s still collaborative. And I still write with other people from time to time, but now it’s kind of like all the instrumentation is by myself. With most of my new songs I don’t really do that with people. But when I teach it to a band, everyone usually comes up with their own parts. So, it is collaborative, just less.
Elena: Would you say that you find inspiration within the other kids in New Music?
Caroline: Absolutely. Last year was really… I was like… Well, I have a friend. Who now, we’re very close friends. But there was a girl a year older than me named Doree. I heard her music in my Freshman year. And she was the coolest Sophomore because she was in New Music in her Sophomore year, which was, like, unheard of. I think she was one of the last people to do that because now it’s not allowed. And I was like, This girl is so cool. She plays guitar so well. I want to be friends with her, or I want to just write with her. Her lyric writing heavily influenced me. They were so good, and I was like, wow I am not good enough. I mean, in any program I’m in, I really do enjoy being the worst one because you learn so much. And usually people are like, “well, it’s good to be in the middle”, but honestly, being the worst one has really helped me. In so many things. No matter what, I love being the worst one in things. So I’m so excited for college!
Elena: That’s a good attitude, though, because then you must not feel put down. I’d hope not.
Caroline: Yeah, no no no. I feel like I’ve always been an underdeveloped musician compared to the people around me. Probably because I started so late. So, I’m okay with it. I just feel underdeveloped and like I have too much to learn. So, being around other musicians has really inspired me. And not only Doree, a lot of people in the class as well. Even the juniors this year. I’ve been so impressed with what they’ve done. And also, what they’ve done with the little rehearsals they have. You know, it’s amazing. I’m always inspired by other musicians. I definitely don’t think I’m too good for that. And, hopefully I inspire other people, but if I don’t it’s fine.
Elena: Are there any other major musicians that you’ve been a fan of that have influenced your music at all?
Caroline: This year it was totally St. Vincent; she was such a heavy, heavy influence. I’m obsessed with listening to mass amounts of music. I feel so overwhelmed all the time because there’s so much I haven’t heard. Whenever I have a conversation with someone about music and they mention an artist I don’t know, I’m like, Oh my goodness, this is another person I have to listen to. But every year, there’s usually one person in the summer that I’m really, like, practicing to. And I learn their songs and then figure it out. So, St. Vincent was really influential to my writing this year. Cage The Elephant was really influential to me the year before. I don’t know if I’m heavily influenced by things in a way that’s really obvious, but I think also growing up listening to a lot of what was popular really helped my ear. I think I have a good feel for a song. That mountain of a song where it goes where it needs to go and where it ends where it needs to end. I can really detect in my writing when I’m like, this has gone on too long. This song is for you. It has to stop here. You didn’t write this for other people to listen to. So I think that’s my basis for writing songs. Just listening to really common music, working from there, and then picking out what I liked and didn’t like. I’ve definitely grown from a lot of the bad music I’ve listened to.
Elena: When writing your own music, do you start with lyrics and poetry or do you start with chords and melody?
Caroline: At first I did write them a capella, so I would write the lyrics first. Or sometimes I’ll have a melody, and I’ll have it in my voice memos, and I’ll write “save for a rainy day” or something like that. I’m a really bad guitarist, and I don’t know anything. Like, I don’t know any theory. I took lessons for a little bit, but it was more of a hang, you know. But now when I practice the guitar and dabble on guitar, to get out of practicing I’ll write new things, and that’s how I start. So I’ve started with chords now.
Elena: Going back to the New Music Show, you were talking about how you draw inspiration from your classmates in New Music. From an audience perspective, that show was so energetic. You guys made the show as energetic as it was. How does it feel to be up on the stage and making other people feel that way?
Caroline: Well, I saw the New Music show when I was a sophomore before I knew I was in the class and after I auditioned. I couldn’t even imagine what it was like to do your own song on stage. I couldn’t even wrap my head around it. I was in Rising Stars, and I did my own song, but that didn’t really feel like that. It wasn’t even that much fun- I’m going to be real- it really wasn’t even that much fun. And I was like, why is this not what that is? Then the big show came, and I was like, oh because we’re all working together for this one common goal. Also that was our first run of the entire show because our blackout was cut. That was the first full run so everyone was, like, on it. Everyone was focused, which is what you would think would happen in the show, but it’s never what happens. But I can honestly say that every single person was on it. So I think that was a really nice feeling because we really faced a lot of adversity, and I think all the songs went smoothly. I think everyone was really proud to work together. It was such a team effort, and that was what was missing from Rising Stars: everyone working together to do this. It was beautiful.
Elena: Yeah, and you guys aren’t just presenting your own work. You’re helping your friends present their work. To be an artist you have to give so much of yourself, and that’s a lot. What emotions come with that- sharing a piece of yourself and putting it out into the world?
Caroline: I didn’t do a song that was quite vulnerable, so I didn’t really… also, I think when you write a song a long-enough time ago you start to become detached from it. A lot of the songs in my album were super vulnerable, like, super vulnerable. Like, my entire childhood out on the line for everyone to hear, and at first that was scary. I would feel uncomfortable performing those songs, like very. And my Big Show song, I wrote that in September. So I was like, alright. I don’t even remember what this was about. It’s okay, it’s just a song. But there were a lot of emotions about growing up. That was kind of what my song was about, and I was like, damn. This is my first and last big show with all my friends who are all graduating and my song is about being scared, about growing up. We’re all working together, and we’re never going to be this young, and all that morbid shit that I am so about, unfortunately.
Elena: And that’s what your whole album was about. It was about getting older and changing, and that’s a really good topic because that’s what you know. That’s what you’re going through. They do say to write what you know.
Caroline: Yeah. It wasn’t even that intentional. I titled the album years after I wrote those songs. Like, actually years.
Elena: What is the oldest song you wrote on your album?
Caroline: Catcher. I wrote that song acapella. Like, the entire song one way through. And then I worked with my guitarist and we figured out something. There were also songs that didn’t make it on the album that I had written before that. The idea of Catcher was from freshman year, and I didn’t record it until the end of junior year So I was just kind of like, wow these songs I’ve wrote throughout high school are really dramatic and emotional and about so many things that have happened in my life. So I thought “Grow Up” was a fitting title.
Elena: It seems like when you write in a journal or a diary and look back at all the old entries.
Caroline: Well, I’m not completely mortified like that. Like, even like “Poor Little Prayer”, I listen to that and I’m just like, aw, little Caroline. She’s so sad. But yeah, I’m not mortified, I’m just in a very different place. Even when I was recording them. Dizzy Spring was the last song I wrote for that album. I wrote Dizzy Spring two months before I recorded the whole album, and I recorded the album in four days. Even when I recorded I felt a bit out of touch with some of it. Which could be hard. In the next album I might record as I go along.
Elena: That’s a good idea. Then you’ll get all that emotion from each song in each recording.
Caroline: Right, right, because you just get so tuckered out by all the songs. After gig, after gig you’re just like, what was I ever singing about? Even with “Streetcar”. People loved that song, and that song was basically produced by Mr. Apostle. He just kept giving me corrections and corrections, and I had to take it. I think I wrote fifty chorus’ of lyrics because the lyrics just weren’t good enough. And the lyrics aren’t even that good now. They’re not even that remarkable, but, like, the lyrics were just super imbalanced, and I had to keep on writing things that would balance it out. That song had four bridges that were written- not good enough, not good enough, not good enough. So by the time I performed that song I was just like, alright. I was tuckered out by that song before I started gigging it because I had to rewrite it like eight times.
Elena: How long did it take you to complete that song with all the rewrites and edits?
Caroline: It was from a poem I wrote in sophomore year, and I had only written the chorus melody. I was like, that’s cool. I like that. And it was in my voice memos. The winter show was coming up for the next year, and I was like, I need something, and I have no ideas because I just spent a summer trying to force myself to write. I’m drained. And so I went back to that voice memo and wrote a song around it. That was in October, and I finished the song in December right before the winter show. I just kept getting corrections (which I’m super grateful for). Criticism can be hard to take, but come on. You have to listen to people that know what they know. Even when you don’t respect someone’s musical opinion, you should still listen to them. Like my sister, we have super different tastes in music. She listens to Top 40, and that’s not my thing, but that’s a lot of people’s thing- a great deal of people. I would be an asshole if I only made music for myself. So, you have to listen to people.
Elena: Would you say that you go through writer’s block a lot?
Caroline: Absolutely. I had severe anxiety about writer’s block. Like, after that winter show- girl, I’m letting everything out on the line right now. Everything. After the winter show, I literally thought I was a one-hit-wonder. I was like, I’ll never write a song again. I’ll never be able to do it. That was my gift from god. And my mom always said that every musician says they have this gift, and it’s, like, that song that feels like it was just written in a minute, and it’s magical, and it’s good, and it was easy to write, and that’s a load of bullshit. I don’t even think that song was that song for me, but at the time I did. Mr. Apostle wanted me to write a rock song for the Big Show, and I was just like, I’m in a different direction and he was just like, no. I love that direction you were going to. And I was totally in this experimental phase, and those two things were not working. He wanted me to write a rock song, and I was not in that anymore. My head wasn’t there, and I had severe anxiety about writing because I couldn’t write a rock song. Like, if it doesn’t come out naturally it probably comes out like garbage. Yeah, forcing a rock song? That’s awful. It’s so hard. I was like, I have severe writer’s block, and I don’t know how to get out of it. I would talk to my friends and they would be like, you’ll get out of it. And honestly, my life is very hectic right now with a lot of changes, so I haven’t had the most time to write. I write lyrics all the time, and I kind of take a breather and know that a song comes to me every season. It’s literally happened like that for the last three years.
Elena: So would you say that that’s what brings you out of your writer’s block- the changing of the seasons?
Caroline: I don’t know if that’s even it, but I know that it’s coming. You know what I mean? I just know myself. Like, at this point I know that something will come naturally. There’s a certain amount of time where something actually has to come up. For Rockwood, I’ve been trying to write something and it’s been half natural and half, oh shit I need a song. So, sometimes pressure works. Sometimes pressure doesn’t work.
Elena: Were there any songs in your album that happened either during that writer’s block phase or after?
Caroline: Um, no, because they weren’t good. Well, “Dizzy Spring” was one of the last songs I wrote, and I think that was a little bit after the writer’s block really hit, and I was, like, calmed down. Also, when you’re nervous about songwriting you’re not going to get something good. And I had such bad anxiety about songwriting. I was like, I want to go to college for this thing that’s making me age. What is going on with my life? With “Dizzy Spring” I decided to write a little bit every day and edit every day, and I wrote it in two weeks. I did it like an assignment, and it actually worked.
Elena: That’s a good way to do things because it’s more natural than trying to bang out a song in one sitting.
Caroline: Yeah. And obviously I’m very early in my musical career, whatever that is, and I don’t have that many songs. So when I need a song for something I have to write something. I don’t have much to pick from at this point. But when you have a song that you’re going to use for a show and have a backup, it’s kind of like a safety net where you feel that you have more freedom to write because there’s no pressure.
Elena: You don’t have a time limit or restrictions.
Caroline: That’s why I didn’t want to major in songwriting in college. I did the Berklee songwriting program. I was there for five days, and I was like, I can’t do this. It was draining.
Elena: Was the expectation to write a song by the end of the five days?
Caroline: I wrote a song every day. And they weren’t good because I was writing a song every day. I really don’t believe that quantity is quality. I’m a big believer in letting things come naturally and working on your lyrics all the time but also not forcing anything. I felt like that task was homework.
Elena: So what are you majoring in college?
Caroline: I am majoring in… Oh my God. God rest my mom. No, no, no, my mom’s not dead, she’s not dead. But like, God bless my mom for putting up with me because her child is going to school for contemporary improv in music. It sounds so hippie-ish. It focuses on composition, aural skills, and performance. So it has the three aspects that I like where in other schools you’re only a songwriter. I need to work on my musicianship. I’m not good enough to major in songwriting right now. I’m literally just skating by with what I know. It’s basically just intense musicianship of writers.
Elena: That sounds really interesting. You seem to get a lot of different aspects, and with that you can do whatever you want. You could songwrite, perform your own songs, and also perform other people’s songs.
Caroline: Yeah, they’re super into not being just one thing, so they force you to be a part of two ensembles every semester. And their ensembled are vast.
Elena: What school?
Caroline: New England Conservatory.
Caroline: Thank you! And if you have an idea for something, they will do it. They work with you. The main focus of the program is to be able to write what you hear in your head and become a good enough musician where you can do that, which has been the biggest struggle of my life. Like, the biggest struggle. That’s my biggest struggle with music because I’m such a bad musician. I also had a language processing disorder when I was little, so that was a struggle too. It’s a lot. I think this program is perfect for me.
Elena: I’m definitely assuming that you’ll be continuing with music in the future, so do you think you’ll be letting out more albums in the near future, or do you think you’ll wait until after college to release a second album?
Caroline: In my brain, I was always like, Oh, I’ll put something out at the end of college. And I guess that’s still the goal, but I’ve been writing a lot. I have a feeling this next year is going to bring a lot of change, and I don’t want to record something that’s from a completely different phase. I want my album to have some sort of organized vibe. I feel like if I release something at the end of the four years it’ll be a lot of different songs. Maybe in, like, two or three years. But, yeah, I need to gig this album a little more before I do that. But, I’m working. I’ve written four songs since the album came out. It’s almost four seasons since the album. I didn’t write this summer. I wrote a song in September, one in the beginning of winter, one towards the end of winter, and then one just now.
Elena: From this album, which song is your favorite?
Caroline: I really don’t know the answer to that. At this point I respect my own music, but I don’t know if it’s my taste anymore. I don’t know if what I write is what I would listen to myself. And that’s not to be a downer; I just think I have different tastes than my own writing. I would say “A Brief History of Time” is one of the songs I would actually listen to. I think my lyrics are better in that than in the other songs. I think in the other songs my lyrics were very clearly written from a freshman’s hormonal point of view. “A Brief History of Time” is also extremely hormonal, but there’s a lot of thought put into it. I know me, so I can hear that thought, and I really like it. Also, “Catcher” is fun to listen to. But, yeah, that’s about it.
Elena: What do you hope people get out of “Grow Up”. Is there some kind of message you want to send to your listeners.
Caroline: Um, no. Well, it’s kind of just a large journal entry, that album. One of the things about it that I really like is that it was all made by kids. There wasn’t one adult involved in the making of the album. I payed for the whole thing. The people who mix-mastered were all college students. I just hope it makes people feel like they can do things that they thought they couldn’t. So I think it’s not the music itself; it’s more that it was made by kids.
Elena: That’s great. I think people underestimate the power of today’s youth and what we can do. Even we underestimate what we can do.
Caroline: Yeah. It’s such a shame to wait. Even my guitar teacher was like, you’ll never write the same songs that you do when you’re sixteen. You’re changing at such a rapid pace that you’ll never change at again. It’s really important that you document that in some way. And I think waiting to do all that is just a shame. I think you miss out on a really creative point in your life. Not that creativity doesn’t follow you, but exploring it now will lead to more creative endeavors later. So I think that’s the message. Don’t wait to do something. Just do it when you’re ready.
Elena: Are there any specific challenges you’ve faced being such a young musician?
Caroline: Kind of being a girl. Especially a girl that sings rock. I’m not trying to gas myself up, but before people started seeing me perform I think they expected less. It’s hard to take charge of your own rehearsals when there are really authoritative men in the room. They think they know everything, and you just say yes. I did that for a while, and I am not proud of that. But also, because I’m not that great of a musician- I keep saying that. I feel like it’s a terrible thing to say in an interview.
Elena: It’s not true! You should stop saying it.
Caroline: Well, because I don’t know that much, it can be hard to talk to a band. So other people would have to say things for me (which I’m grateful for), but I definitely let a lot of people overstep. I think that’s not a good thing. And I think being a female you’re just like, oh yeah.
Elena: It’s awful because you become used to it.
Caroline: You become used to it! Being a female in rock is just weird. I did a show at the 72 not too long ago, and there were three rock-ish bands. Each band had about seven people. Seven times three is twenty-one, and there were three girls. But that’s a lot, and it feels weird.
Elena: You’re outnumbered, and you become the minority of a room.
Caroline: Yeah. It doesn’t feel right. It could make you feel like a little bit of a badass because you’re like, I’m the only girl! But also, like, why are you the only girl? It doesn’t seem right. But, maybe it’s just that less girls are into rock. But it could also be that people step on girls when they want to make decisions about their own music. It’s a good thing that I worked with my friends who respect me because they’re my friends. I’m going to a school next year that’s, like, 80% guys, so I’m hoping that power thing isn’t a problem. I’m sure it will be, though. It’s really a problem with women in jazz as well. I’m in the jazz improv program, and I was in a combo of all guys. There are times when you’re just not heard.
Elena: I hope you don’t find that a lot in New Music.
Caroline: With certain people, yeah. With certain people, they’ll think that my rehearsal is theirs. I’ve dealt with people where it’s like, if I give a direction about my song in a normal way, I’m a bitch. They’ll roll their eyes, meanwhile it’s my song. It’s just a direction; nothing personal! But because you’re a girl you’re a bitch. That’s not the vibe in New Music, but you know certain people are going to be like that. It kinda sucks, but I’ve gotten to a point where I know who’s going to do that. I think I’ve grown up a little bit, and I know how to stick up for myself in those situations. It’s taken a bit.
Elena: It’s hard if you feel put down or underappreciated by the people around you.
Caroline: Yeah, and, like, I’m super open about how little I know. So people decide that they’re going to speak up for me, but it’s not always the right thing to do.
Elena: On a more positive note, what’s your favorite aspect of being a young, female musician?
Caroline: I like when people are surprised. People shouldn’t be surprised that females can kick ass, but I like when people are surprised that I’m kind but can also perform. It should go without saying, but people tend to be really surprised. And also, just playing music with your friends. There’s literally nothing better than that. I’ll miss playing with so many people. And even, like, the energy you saw at the New Music show- there’s a reason there was such a good energy. It’s because we all support each other. Everyone really supports each other, and that’s kind of the best part: playing with your friends and just having fun. You do this because you love it. No one is a musician because they’re like, I need to make money. No one does that. People are only musicians because they love it. Well, at least I’d hope. I think that’s the best part.
Elena: You’re right because when you’re friendly or quiet people expect you to not have much power or to not be talented or to not have much to show, and that must be a great feeling when you can prove people wrong. That may be a little spiteful, but I definitely take pleasure in proving people wrong when they underestimate me.
Caroline: Absolutely, absolutely. It’s also that. When people underestimate you or try to undermine you you’re like, no, I have my shit together. I’ll be okay. I like that. It’s fun to prove people wrong.
Elena: So, how often do you perform outside of school?
Caroline: This year in total I had like five or six out of school gigs, but I also had three gigs in school, or I’m going to have the third one coming up. It’s kind of hard to find time to rehearse, and the New Music gigs are a lot of work. It takes up a lot of my time; that’s why I’ve only had six this year.
Elena: But that’s still a lot. You’re so young, and you do so much.
Caroline: It can be hard with school. You also want to make sure people come, so you have to try not to book things at bad times. But this school keeps you busy, you know?
Elena: It definitely does. Would you say you find trouble balancing your music and your school work, or do you put your music first?
Caroline: Oh, I put it first. I feel like no matter how hard I try I get okay grades. And sophomore year I busted my ass with school work. And also, like, there’s literally no reason if you’re going to music school. I knew I was going to do something in the arts, but I was always like, I need great grades to get a scholarship. And it didn’t help me in my school. They didn’t even care. They don’t care at all. We learn how to get good grades. We don’t learn. Period. What we’re learning in school is how to get good grades. That’s how I started to feel, and I was like, why am I doing this?
Elena: Yeah, sometimes it’s like you’re working towards a number and not for your own general knowledge of the material. We’re working towards averages.
Caroline: Yeah. Like, after the regent did I forget everything? Yes, I did. That’s when I stopped busting my ass, and when I stopped busting my ass I was less stressed out. Which resulted in me getting better grades. So, when you don’t stress as much… I don’t know. Just do what makes you happy but have everything under control. It can be really easy to get out of control. But you can have it under wraps without having anxiety about your grades, which is what I used to do. And I was just like, why am I doing this. So, yeah, it can be hard with school, but you should put what you love first, not what the school wants you to do.
Elena: What kind of music genre would you say you fit in?
Caroline: I don’t think I’m developed enough to fit in a genre yet. I feel like a baby. I feel like a large baby that doesn’t know what type of music she makes. Umm… I would say my album is like pop-rock. Now I’m writing more singer-songwriter stuff, and a lot of that has been turned into rock songs. I’ll write it by myself and feel like it’s small, but then it’ll become this big thing when I bring it to a band. And it’s usually rock once I bring it to a band. It’s really interesting how the vibe or even the genre of the song can change when you bring it to different people. I usually start out just writing singer-songwriter, and then it develops into rock.
Elena: That’s really cool. Going back to the energy of the New Music show, have you ever felt a similar energy when performing by yourself or in a smaller setting?
Caroline: My album release show was really fun. There was unexpectedly a lot of people there, and it made me feel really good. It was the first time anyone had moshed to my songs. I was like, that’s really cool that someone got hurt to one of my songs. Someone got shoved. That was really cool. I had a lot of people I loved there, and I was like, this is nice. There were a lot of musicians and a lot of people that I didn’t expect to be there. And that energy was great, but I have to work on keeping that energy when no one comes. I’ve done gigs where there’s, like, six people there. It can be hard to keep that energy, but that’s something I want to work on because it’s going to happen. I’m going to play to no one. That’s one of my biggest goals for twenty nineteen. It’s being able to perform well no matter what size the audience is.
Elena: What’s your biggest goal as a musician?
Caroline: Writing songs that really represent what I’m going through. I think that’s the least I can do. I feel like that’s the whole goal. I think if you don’t write from the heart, it’s… ugh, I need to restart this. It’s so cheesy. My biggest goal is just to write things that show what I went through and show what I’m going through and hopefully resonate with someone. You know? That’s kind of it. I feel like in a way I write lyrics to make other people and myself feel less alone. It’s kind of interesting how that works simultaneously. You can really make others and yourself feel better at the same time. Even with “A Brief History of Time”, people have told me that they really liked and connected with my lyrics, and that’s a good feeling. It’s not just about the lyrics, it’s about the song as a whole. If it resonates with you, and you like it, and you get something from it, then that’s my goal.
Elena: That’s a really great goal. Especially as young people, we go through such similar things. They can also be so different, but at the root of we all have such similar problems and obstacles. It must be so cool to see that your music means something to other people. That must be such a great feeling.
Caroline: Yeah. I haven’t totally seen it yet, but I can definitely… when people talk to me about my lyrics I can tell that they appreciated my honesty. That’s a really special thing because we consume, consume, consume, and a lot of times we don’t listen. To make people not be mindless when they listen to music is a goal. It’s literally all a musician can ask for: someone to listen and not just hear. Listening is effort, too. It means the world when someone actually listens to your music. And it’s always surprising. People will be like, I listened to your song, and I really liked it, and I’ll be like, what? That’s so weird. I just never expect for anyone to actually care about it. It’s weird, but that’s a goal.
Elena: When releasing your album, would you say you were more scared or excited to have people listen to it?
Caroline: Oh, I was the worst. I had so much anxiety before putting out my album. It actually kept getting pushed. It was supposed to come out in September, and it came out in January. I was so nervous. I don’t have a wonderful ear, and that’s why I’m going to college for music. I couldn’t tell what was wrong with the mixes when I was getting them sent to me. It was weird. I had to have my friend listen to the mixes since he had a better ear than me, and that gave me anxiety. I was like, I know something’s wrong and I don’t have the words to describe it. He listened to the album and made a face at one of the mixes, and I started crying at just a face. It was so tense. That was my high school work, it means so much to me. By the time I put it out I was so tired. I was like, I hope my mom listens to this.
Elena: When I was listening to the album on spotify, I saw the amount of listeners, and I was like, good for her. Right now, I’m assuming your album is reaching the people you know at LaGuardia and in other NYC High Schools, but it’s just going to keep growing. So many people will hear your music and that’ll probably feel so rewarding.
Caroline: Hopefully that happens. I also really need to develop my social media presence. I just have to get to the point where people can tell the difference between my finsta and my rinsta. I definitely should get to that point. Maybe people would start listening to my music more if I have a more musician-like instagram. I’m actually starting a cover series with my friends this summer. I have a bunch of projects that I can’t talk about yet, but that should definitely help with that. I didn’t pay for crazy advertisements everywhere. I did an instagram advertisement and that was it. I didn’t have a manager to get 5,000 listens. I tried, but I don’t know enough to advertise myself.
Elena: I think you’re just going to keep on learning.
Caroline: Yeah, I’m also in school. Marketing yourself is like a full-time job. I was trying to social media manage, and that was so hard. Like following people who would want to listen to my album. I had to do that, and it was really time consuming. They pay people to do that. Social Media Manager is a whole job.
Elena: So are there any last things you want to put out there about the album, or making music in general?
Caroline: I’m trying to think. I wish I had started earlier and had been less scared to go into songwriting. That’s my last advice: do what you want. Be friendly. The best thing you can do as a musician and as a person is to be kind to people. I’ve seen people lose so many things because of their ego and because they’re not good to work with, and I think you can learn so much from other people. There’s no reason to be difficult. I was difficult while recording my album, but that’s because I was judging myself the whole time. People make mistakes. Also, not everything you write is going to be good. Most of it will probably be bad. People are always like, I can’t write a song. Everything I write is so bad. I’m just like, all right. Some of my songs suck too. Probably eighty percent of the songs I’ve written are terrible. I’m only showing the things I’m proud of. I don’t think fear of failure should ever stop anyone from trying to songwrite. I think it really does, especially at our school. There are so many vocal majors I’ve talked to who haven’t done it because they’re scared. There are a lot of people with good ears that’ve wasted them. You don’t have top be in New Music to create music. Just practice. Just go up to someone in a practice room. That’s basically what I did. Try to work with people that are creating music. It can be really good. That’s really it. Just go for it!