Caroline Rose is a teller of stories.
Her latest project, the glitter-filled cinematic pop of new album ‘Superstar’, is a concept record, written from the perspective of a character who after receiving a mistaken phone decides to start their life over in the pursuit of fame.
It’s packed with musings on pop culture, identity and ambition, telling the story of an oddball anti-hero on a quest to become a somebody.
It’s a narrative Rose pulled directly from the somewhat shameless desires of her own growing ambition, as well as the public breakdowns of several notable celebrities.
“To me, there’s both humour and horror in hubris and what it takes in order to be successful,’ she explains. “I wanted to make a story out of those parts of myself that I find largely undesirable and embarrassing, then inject them with steroids.”
Rose began formulating these ideas and songs in-between a near-incessant touring schedule, from playing sold out headline shows and some of the world’s biggest festivals. She wrote, recorded and produced ‘Superstar’ both at home and on a portable rig on tour.
Despite this breakneck speed life, Rose found time to tell Clash about her musical roots…
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Michael Jackson – ‘Thriller’ (1982)
Everyone loves this record because it’s just amazing in nearly every way, but one reason why I was inspired by it is there is little reliance on big fancy production.
The grooves are pretty straightforward but coupled with bass lines that make your body want to move. A lot of great ‘70s and ‘80s pop was made like this.
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The Bee Gees – ‘Saturday Night Fever (OST)’ (1977)
Movement has always been a real creative driver for me, whether I’m in some sort of vehicle or walking. I’ve always thought that ‘Stayin Alive’ is one of the best pop songs ever written because it’s perfect to walk to.
The tempo, along with that repetitive, almost meditative beat and bass, makes me feel like I could walk forever. Not to mention the fact that the song is secretly really heavy. You get distracted by the groove but the lyrics tell an important story of an underdog just trying to make it in the world.
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U.S. Girls – ‘In a Poem Unlimited’ (2018)
I was really moved by this record. I love how she just went for it completely and didn’t give a fuck that it was sort of out of left field.
I love when artists do that, just do whatever the hell they’re feeling and don’t try and spoon feed it to anyone.
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Ace of Base – ‘The Sign’ (1993)
What I’m really inspired by here is the early production prowess of the Cheiron Group, which was masterminded by Denniz Pop and a young Max Martin in Stockholm. They embedded hip-hop, pop and classical music techniques all in one.
I feel like their ideas really transformed pop music. For instance, there is always a hook happening, whether it’s a vocal line, an instrument or a production idea. This is something you hear all the time in modern pop. '24K Magic' by Bruno Mars is a good example.
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Kronos Quartet and Asha Bhosle – ‘You’ve Stolen My Heart’ (2005)
I can’t express how much I love R.D. Burman [whose songs are rearranged on this album] and Bollywood soundtracks. Burman was so influential as a writer and producer back in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
He was also a rebel too, given how radically different his work was from his father’s. I tend to love kitsch too, so Bollywood seems like a natural companion for me, but it’s the interesting melodies that keep me coming back.
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Caroline Rose’s new album ‘Superstar’ is out now.
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