We started with contradictions and we’ll continue. Caroline Rose’s account of lonerism is one from a person with many tales of friendship on a record that thrives on collaboration. Five minutes talking to her is enough to realise she’s genuinely hilarious, not to mention perceptive and personable in a way that would make the popularity contest bow down at her feet.
She acknowledges it looks strange. “It came from the time when I created it. Most of the songs on the album were written when I was living in an apartment in Vermont. I had decorated it to look like the inside of a wacky school bus slash Mexican hacienda – it was a very weird and cool place. I’d kind of created my own little world in there. I had spent a lot of time writing songs and arrangements and production on a computer.
“I was really lonely. I desperately wanted to date someone. It’s very isolating especially during the winter in the North East of the US. It’s very cold. The way I was living in Vermont – desperately close to the Canadian border – it’s like No Man’s Land up there. It felt like I was an island, but it didn’t have anything to do with my business life. At the time I was signed to a label that I would actively be in communications with, be sending songs and stuff. It was just my personal life. So you know, I just felt like shoving a bunch of cigarettes in my mouth and having these dead eyes – it fitted how I was feeling at the time. It’s a little bit strange, a little bit self-destructive. It’s one part humorous, one part… You know.”
The short silence takes us back to the image of her album cover, undoubtedly one of the year’s best visuals. Caroline Rose in a cherry-red tracksuit, stuffing 23 cigarettes into her mouth at once. (No, you counted…) I want to know what happened next, once the cigarettes were in place and lit up.
“It’s funny you ask that. We actually have some footage of it, my friend came over and filmed the whole thing. I had actually shot that picture originally on an iPhone about a year before the album cover was taken, so almost a year and a half ago now. Then we shot the actual album cover six months ago. We took the original in my apartment in Vermont and after we had lit the cigarettes… well, it was a no smoking building and my landlord was very strict… I was like the constant rule breaker.” She explains a story of complete small-town anarchy: “he was like ‘don’t paint the walls’ so I painted the walls teal and yellow, and then he’d be like, y’know, ‘don’t have anyone else park in your parking spot’, and I’d have people over here all the time parking in my parking spot. So I’d get into constant trouble and I was really, really, really trying not to get caught with all the cigarettes in my mouth.
“Then when it came to thinking of an album cover, I knew we had to have this picture but given it was on an iPhone I was like ‘this can’t be the cover, we have to redo the shoot’… we actually ended up redoing it back where we started, in my old apartment.” (She clarifies that she gave the place to a friend after moving out herself, she didn’t break in, although she laughs that that would have made a better story). “My landlord was so upset to see me, like, ‘oh god not this girl again’. Just when you think you’re rid of her she brings a posse full of people in and sticks a load of cigarettes back in her mouth. You know, I haven’t sent him a copy of the album yet, I totally should.”