AUSTIN (KXAN) — Caroline Rose, an Austin-based musician, has been garnering attention for their upcoming album ‘The Art of Forgetting.’
The album comes out Friday, and Rose (referred to by they/she pronouns) is busy preparing for tour. They talked over a Zoom interview Monday – literally on the way to a tour rehearsal – about Austin and the community they’ve found in its music scene, the album, and its accompanying short film, which shares the same name as the album.
A few songs from the album are already out, plus two music videos for the songs ‘Miami‘ and ‘Tell Me What You Want‘, which make up Chapters 1 and 2 of the short film, set to be released later this year.
The film’s plot follows the fallout of a relationship between Caroline and their partner, portrayed by Massima Bell, with the themes any heartbreak feels: sadness, anger, and finding oneself, which doesn’t always happen in a healthy way. Plus, there’s a meta twist at the end.
Filmed in Austin
At first, it’s a little ambiguous in the presentation of where it takes place, but if you’re an Austinite, you will likely immediately recognize the Austin Motel as one of the main settings. And it’s realistic for Rose; she said it was the one place where she’s had actual, important experiences.
“It was important to me to incorporate, like, some of the actual places, just because I thought it would make it feel more powerful and more realistic,” Rose said. “And it did. It was kind of psychotic because it was really painful in a lot of ways for me.”
Rose also called the feeling of filming something so personal and real “bizarre.”
“I was a little depressed after it was done actually. Maybe it wasn’t depression, it was really like… You know, when a project that you’re really excited about ends. There’s like a little bit of sadness in it,” Rose explained. “But there’s also a little bit of relief. But the material — and you know, the fact that it was like, really a bizarre recreation of the past, but in a very fictionalized way — it just made me feel very bizarre when it was done. What just happened? Like a twisted dream?”
Rose has been making music for a decade, sliding across genres, from a folksy blues sound to indie pop-rock. Their upcoming album wades more into the rock end of her genre pool but keeps close to her folk roots, too.
Rose calls The Art of Forgetting a genre-blending album, incorporating orchestral, chamber-type music with folk, rock, and pop. It’s a step forward in the New York native’s journey, but it doesn’t leave behind her history.
“I feel like if anything, I’m just picking up things as I go along. So you know, I started in folk music, and there’s still a lot of folk in my music, to me. I just have added more diversity to the soundscape. And there’s like, different types of instruments that bring different types of textures. So to me, I’m just following what I feel like will cater to the songs and where I’m at in my life.”
“And hopefully, by the end of my life, you know, I’ll look back and I’ll see all these albums as different moments in time of who I was as a person, and what I was feeling, what I was going through, and what I was interested in. But yeah, to me, I think I grow with each one.”
The short film was born from Rose’s love for film, and the fact she’s always wanted to make one. A lot of her music is inspired by film, too, Rose said. They just never had the opportunity to create their own short film before now because of money and time constraints. Those challenges were still present for this project, but Rose said she felt really dedicated to the idea and had a vision of a short film accompanying her music.
It came together pretty organically, Rose said. The director, Samuel Aaron Bennett, and Rose have been close friends for a long time. They were talking one day and Rose told Bennett about the idea, and it felt like a perfect fit for him to help bring it to life.
“[He’s] one of my oldest friends, he knows me really well, this is such an intimate album for me. It just seemed like a perfect fit,” Rose explained. “And he was so taken by the idea and had all of this great, really brilliant creative input. We work really well together. And he was also just dedicated to seeing it through, and there were a lot of things about it that really defied the odds.”
Rose’s move to Austin
Rose is originally from Long Island, New York, and after living in New York City and Vermont, moving to Austin about five years ago was a “happy accident” for her. She says it brought her something she’s never had before in the music industry.
“And I just really love it. I have never had such like a tight community before, especially in the art scene, like the music scene,” Rose said. “There’s so much support in Austin for musicians. It’s kind of unreal to me. And never experienced that before.”
Tapping into that community, the short film features mostly Austin locals, on camera and behind the scenes. Friends of Rose’s, other local musicians, and artists were involved.
Jonathan Krugman, an Austin makeup artist, did hair and makeup for the film. They said it was an interesting experience to work on a project like it, because they had to come up with creative ways to make some of the scenes work.
“Since we shot the scenes out of order, we had some scenes where Rose and Massima had to look like they just got out of the pool and I was constantly wetting their hair back down to get drips and tendrils happening on multiple takes,” Krugman explained.
Krugman also said they were challenged by having to recreate Rose’s hair on blonde wigs, and used eye shadow to simulate the darker roots Rose has.
Austin-based graphic designer and freelance illustrator Polly Morwood has been in Austin for 12 years. In that time, she’s become good friends with Rose and was asked to be in the film a few days beforehand.
“There is something so special about seeing your friends in their element and absolutely killing it at their life’s profession,” Morwood said, “and being able to help in the smallest, silliest little way was very cool.”
Rose and their team are screening the film in person in New York, and online for people who pre-ordered the album, but they’re working on finding ways to screen it to more people before it’s released, which will likely be in the summer.
The album will come out on March 24 through New West Records. Rose’s next Austin show is currently planned for September.
The author of this story, Abigail Jones, played a small role in the short film as an extra.