Continuing its enduring legacy as a hub of musical prowess, Nashville exudes an ineffable resonance with a musical heritage that gracefully flows through the very core of its being. Consequently, when one discovers the locale (fittingly known as ‘Music City’) is the home of a new artist, anticipation naturally reaches lofty heights. In the realm of pop, emerging artist Caroline Romano effortlessly rises to meet these grand expectations, delivering a musical experience that is nothing short of captivating.
Naturally fitting into the city’s scene of ongoing musical greatness, Caroline Romano has been on a mission to deliver gripping gems to her growing audience, who she continues to enchant through her multi-layered creations which explore the highs and lows of young adulthood. Caroline’s latest – the crashing “girl in a china shop” – is a rambunctious number defined by an explosive chorus artistically offset by tender verses, with the end result sonically capturing the emotional turmoil of Caroline’s lyrics.
Continuing to captivate audiences with her poignant words and dynamic melodies, Caroline Romano stands as a promising artist on the rise who is poised to leave a lasting impact on the scene. We caught up with Caroline about her excellent new bop “girl in a china shop”, as well as her thoughts on her journey so far, inequality in music and her words of advice for other women in music.
SheBOPS: “girl in a china shop” is an emotional rollercoaster of a song – I love the contrast between the explosive choruses and softer verses. Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind the song and the creative process of achieving this balance in the production?
Caroline Romano: I wrote “girl in a china shop” just a couple of weeks after my 22nd birthday. I was feeling really reflective on turning a year older, yet feeling like I was doing the opposite of growing up. I’d had the idea of “girl in a china shop” written in my notes for a few days before I went into my first session with Todd Tran and Michael Van Wagoner. We got to talking about life, and they were both really responsive to my wanting to write a super volatile song. I knew I wanted a super explosive chorus, and the softer verses represent the two extremes I feel like I fluctuate between emotionally. I knew I just wanted it to feel sweet and messy and desperate, and I love that we were able to capture those feelings in the dynamic juxtaposition of the song.
In the song, you touch on the idea of breaking things in the process of life, including relationships and your own heart. Can you describe your creative process for turning these vulnerable, personal experiences into music for others to dive into?
This song in particular really just stemmed from me being brutally honest with and about myself. Most of the song is listing the things I hate the most about myself, my bad habits and the things I’ve done or failed to do. I’ve always felt like vulnerability, the real and terrible, is naturally poetic in its own twisted, beautiful way. I think at the end of the day all I can do is be as open as I can in my music. It’s taken me time to get to the point where I now feel pretty comfortable doing so, but it’s so rewarding. The art I’m proudest of has always been some of the hardest to share with people.
How has your music evolved since your debut album, “Oddities and Prodigies,” and how does “girl in a china shop” fit into that evolution?
My music’s grown up and changed and fallen apart and come back together with me over the last two years. I was 20 when my album, Oddities and Prodigies, came out, and that entire project, both lyrically and sonically, was really a coming of age album for me. It was loud and soft and naive and larger than life, and I think the music I’m making today, including “girl in a china shop” still reflects those themes. I’d say my music and sound has evolved in that it learned about life with me. I’m still writing about the same feelings, just through a new lens. The sad songs are more tragic, the angry songs are scathing, the heartbreaks more intense, and the love songs more nauseating. I feel like I’m only getting more dramatic with age, and I think my music is too.
What are the overarching themes and messages you hope to convey through your music, and how have these themes evolved over the course of your career?
I write a lot about my brain, and unrequited love, and wanting impossible things. I think I always will. Over the course of my career, I’ve started to understand some of these things a bit better, and have grown more confused about others with time. My songs follow these ups and downs, as I’m writing about them as they happen. I can only always hope that I’m doing a decent job at conveying these emotions and pains and desires, and that someone somewhere out there relates to the way I tell it.
Your music often explores the highs and lows of young adulthood. How do you strike a balance between creating relatable anthems and maintaining a unique and personal artistic voice in your songs?
I feel like I’m most relatable when I’m not trying to be. When I tell things as they are, as real and unencumbered as I possibly can, it’s in those moments that I see people relate to things the most. If I feel like I’m being true to myself and true to the artistic sentiment, I’ve found people will relate to it.
Can you share any challenges or obstacles you’ve faced in your music career and how you’ve overcome them?
I think one of the biggest challenges for me in my career has been learning not to take everything so seriously. Whether it’s myself, or my music, or a rejection from someone in the industry, I’ve had to learn not to let those things cripple me. I’m a perfectionist at heart and it’s really easy for me to isolate myself and not for the better. It took a while for me to believe that as long as I’m doing everything I can and making music I’m proud of, even the things that go wrong end up going wrong for the right reasons. Things come together in funny ways, and most of the time, I’ve been the biggest obstacle in my own way.
How has your experience as a Nashville-based artist influenced your musical direction and sound, given the city’s rich musical heritage?
I love Nashville because it’s like a musical playground. There’s not a sound or musical community you won’t find here, and it’s incredibly inspiring being surrounded by such talent and history all of the time. Nashville has a great alternative pop/rock scene that has been so cool to watch grow even more over the past few years. Some of my best friends are making some of my absolute favorite music right now, so being in such close proximity to that is incredibly inspiring.
Your music has already garnered millions of streams, and you’re on the rise as an artist. What about your music do you feel is resonating with audiences, and how do you plan to continue building on your musical journey?
All I can ever hope for is for even one person out there to relate to the songs I write, so the fact that there’s been a lot of people who have related to my music is so special to me. I think all I can ever do is share my experiences and my outlooks and emotions in their most brutal form. That’s what I try to do anyways, and I think people relate to that. I plan to keep doing that, having my music grow with me throughout my life, and I hope it grows with anyone listening too. It’s a “we’re all in this together” mindset that I think connects us all through music.
Do you have any specific role models or artists who have inspired your musical career?
Noah Kahan and Taylor Swift are two of my biggest inspirations, both as genius lyricists, as well as the way they’ve both grown with their fans through their careers and have made such a personal connection with people.
Gender representation and equality are significant issues in the music industry. From your perspective, what steps do you think the industry can take to counteract this?
I think one of the first steps would be further bringing to light the double standard facing women in the music industry. There still seems to be so many cases where what’s expected of a woman in the industry is much higher than that of most men, and the reward is often less. From both an industry and societal perspective, I think this is definitely something that once more widely acknowledged, would be a first step in consciously reversing as an example of equality issues within music.
Women have historically been underrepresented in the music industry. How do you think the landscape is changing for women in music today?
I think the case of female artists speaking out about underrepresentation is growing, and that’s making waves in opening people’s eyes to it. I believe there is still a long way to go, but artists like Taylor Swift who have made a point of talking openly about this issue are doing so much to positively shift the landscape.
Do you think the music industry is evolving in a more inclusive and supportive direction for women, and if so, what factors are contributing to this shift?
I believe it is, and I think it’s a combination of women voicing their struggles within the industry, as well as an audience and generation that is more accepting and open to positive change than ever before. It’s also easier than ever to get a message out there on an extremely wide scale through social media.
What advice would you offer to young girls who are contemplating a career in the music industry, based on your own experiences and journey?
My biggest advice would be to know yourself because people will definitely try to tell you who you are for you. It sounds cliché, but a firm belief and grasp on you and your vision is what’s going to take you farthest. As a naturally unconfident person, this has taken a while for me to learn, but simply knowing who you are and sticking to it no matter what is the first step.
What’s next for you in terms of future projects as well as goals in your music career?
I’m already working on a project for next year. I love making cohesive bodies of work, whether it’s an EP or an album, so I’m very excited for what the next project is going to look like in the new year. My goals are just to keep growing and writing music I love and that people relate to. I want to take this as far and as wide as I possibly can, and I’m so ready for what’s to come.