Caroline Kole has strong roots in country music; she was discovered by Reba McEntire herself at age 13 and spent years on tour opening for Reba, Blake Shelton and other artists. But as she’s gotten older, she found her vein was more pop. Since then she’s had a lot of success, having released her popular single “Right Now” with electronic duo VAVO last year, which charted #32 on Billboard Dance.
I got the chance to talk with Caroline about her transition from country to pop, her new EP, Only Slightly Emotional, her writing process, her love of planetariums and so much more! Keep reading to see what she had to say!
Tell me a little bit about how you first got into making and performing music.
When I was 8, I got a guitar and started writing! By 9, I was performing at beach bars in my hometown of Florida. At 10, I was coming to Nashville and writing here with great writers. I started touring internationally with Reba McEntire as her opening act when I was 15 years old and in high school. It was always fun to tell my teachers, “Hey I won’t be here for this Spanish test because I’m gonna be in Edmonton, then Ohio, then Indianapolis for gigs.” Now, I’m 21 and still having so much fun. Even though the style of music has changed, it’s still me!
Was there a specific moment or person that made you realize that music is what you wanted to pursue professionally?
It’s kind of all I’ve ever known! I’ve always sang, written or performed. It’s just always been a natural thing to me [so] I was thrilled to hear you can make money from! This is all I’ve ever wanted to do.
In late 2017, you transitioned from country music to more of a pop sound. Was there any particular reason or was it as simple as you just wanted to make pop music?
It was even more simple; I didn’t make any decision AT ALL! I swear. I had just graduated high school and was taking a gap year before I went to college, and during this time, I wrote for the sake of writing. No projects planned out, no albums in the making; I just wrote a bunch of songs. When I stopped to listen to them, they were all actually alternative rock songs! It was scary to me because all I had ever listened to and all the people I had ever known were in the country genre, so how could I ever do a genre that was different if I didn’t know anyone in that world? But the music was changing, there was no question about it, so I had to follow it.
I’m always genuinely curious about what artists want to convey with their music. Your current sound would typically be classified as pop, but if you had to describe it without using genre names, how would you describe it?
Bright fun female power anthems! But boys can sing them too!
Going off of that, who are some of your musical influences?
Dua Lipa, The Cranberries, Julia Michaels, The Killers
Let’s talk about your new EP, Only Slightly Emotional. Why did you want to name the EP this?
It kind of came out of the blue when I was trying to find a phrase that encapsulated the project as a whole. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be, but I feel like it represented the sarcastic and sassy edge of the whole EP.
What was the recording process like for this EP? How long did it take for this to come together from start to finish?
“Flow” was actually written 2 years ago so that might mess up the timeline but “Bad Guy” was written at the end of last year so that one is extremely recent. But as the songs were starting to come into the picture for the project, I was still actively writing. However, I knew there were some good stuff in the vault that we could bring into the mix as well!
Let’s talk about one of the singles from the EP that you’ve already released, “What If”. What inspired that song?
Honesty and being willing to go out on a limb. I see people around me being too afraid to make the first move, and this song is essentially me saying to myself, “What’s the worst that could happen if I asked this guy out? He’d say no and we’d go on with our lives exactly as we were before?” To me, that’s not scary at all! So just do the dang thing, whatever that thing is!
What was the songwriting process like for this song specifically?
Pretty quick because it was actual statements I was making in the writers room. My co-writers were like, “Yeah that actually works as is!” They had some magical melodies and other thoughts, add[ed] in some production magic and voila! All in all, we made a great songwriting team that day!
Do you tend to write by yourself or do you like collaborating with other writers and artists in co-writes?
I love collaborating with other people. I love getting different perspectives and based on everyone else’s life experience, everyone views things a little differently! I’ll write by myself on occasion, but I don’t prefer it.
Was there any major changes to “What If“ that happened once you guys got into the recording studio, whether it be in the lyrics or something sonically?
We had a totally different chorus originally, and therefore an entirely different hook. But the second day we got into the room, we realized something didn’t feel right about it. So we scrapped a lot of what we had and it was crazy how quickly the version you hear now came together from that!
You’re still relatively new to the music game. What are some music industry-related goals or benchmarks that you’re aiming to reach in the next couple of years?
I’d love to go on a U.S. tour with this music! Hopefully soon! Also, it would be nice to have another song on the Billboard chart; it was just such a rush to watch my music climb the chart. I was and still am incredibly grateful that I had that opportunity and I can’t wait to reach that point again!
Last question — we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner nerd so what is something that you’re currently nerding out about?
The Pink Floyd laser show and planetariums in general! I am fascinated with the stars and constellations, so I actually went to a planetarium just last weekend and ended up watching and LOVING the Pink Floyd laser show, The Dark Side of the Moon. It was amazing!