Real and Raw: Inside the Music of Caroline Romano

By Zoe Blakeman

Nashville alt-pop artist Caroline Romano discusses her latest release, “Tell Her I Said Hi,” and her new upcoming single “Used By You.” Romano blends alternative and pop music adding a bit of her Nashville flair, while singing about heartbreak and girlhood. She brings honesty to the messiness of being a 20-something-year-old girl and figuring out how to navigate the world.

Read the exclusive interview with Caroline below!

ZB: Your latest single, “Tell Her I Said Hi,” is described as a cathartic release of anger packaged into an addictive alt-rock anthem. Can you take us through the inspiration behind the song and the emotions you aimed to convey?

CR: The inspiration behind “Tell Her I Said Hi” is really just the list of things I would want to say to this person the song is about after things ended the way they did. I just wanted to convey honesty, no matter how blunt it came across. It’s basically a song of statements I never got to say at the moment.

ZB: In the song, you mention closing the final chapter on a particular heartbreak. How important is personal experience in shaping your songwriting, and do you find it challenging to share such intimate emotions with your audience?

CR: Personal experience is so important in songwriting for me. Writing from the perspective or about something I’ve actually lived through is an entirely different experience from a song where I’m stepping into more of a character role. However, the ones I’ve written from a place of personal experience and lived emotion always hold a special place in my heart just because of the feelings attached to them.

It can be scary releasing songs that talk about super-vulnerable moments in my life, but I know my favorite songs from my favorite artists are always the most raw, real tracks. I find comfort in the thought of others finding comfort in relating to my experiences, no matter how exposing it can feel at times.

ZB: The line “Tell Her I Said Hi” in the song carries a sense of finality that’s both heartbreaking and cathartic. Can you elaborate on the significance of that line and how it encapsulates the emotions you wanted to convey in the song?

CR: When the relationship I’m writing about in the song ended, I was heartbroken, really for the first time ever. He moved on pretty quickly after we broke things off, and the girl he’d started seeing was seriously just the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen in my life. There came a point where I really had nothing I could think of left to say to him if I saw him out in public.

The only thing that crossed my mind when I thought of him was her, so the line “Tell her I said hi” lived in my mind for a while during that time. I think there’s a bit of every emotion in that sentence, anger and jealousy and betrayal. It’s simple but it says it all.

ZB: Your music often captures the highs and lows of young adulthood. How do you navigate the balance between being relatable to your audience while maintaining a unique and personal artistic expression?

CR: I like to think that just by being unique and true to my life and emotions, that in itself will be relatable. I think authenticity is always the most relatable trait in music, or in anything really. I find the songs where I’m the most unfiltered are the songs I get the best reaction from. I’m growing up with the people who listen to my music, and there’s a comfort in the idea that we’re all doing this together.

ZB: “Tell Her I Said Hi” follows your debut album, “Oddities and Prodigies,” and your 2023 EP, “A Brief Epic.” How has your sound evolved since your debut, and what intentional choices did you make with the new single to showcase this evolution?

CR: I’ve found it interesting listening back to the first album, how my sound has kind of had a full circle moment and come back around to the style I was writing a few years ago. I tend to fluctuate between rock and acoustic pop/hyper-pop, and I think the debut was a lot like the rock sound I’m writing now. The EP was me experimenting with more stripped pop with hyper-pop elements, but I think my sound is growing and finding its place in the world with me which is cool. It’s interesting to see what’s stuck around from the very first songs I wrote and what’s changed with me.

ZB: The press release mentions your transition to a more alternative-leaning sound, evident in both “Tell Her I Said Hi” and your previous hit, “Girl in a China Shop.” What inspired this shift, and how has it influenced your approach to creating music?

CR: Lately I feel like I’ve been writing about similar emotions I felt when I was 17 years old. I feel like I’ve come into a new wave of being young and catastrophic and feeling everything all at once. With those emotions and subjects, a more alternative sound has been what’s fit. I think I’m just writing a bit more mature versions of songs I would’ve written in high school.

ZB: Your debut album received widespread support from outlets like EARMILK and Sweety High. How do you navigate the balance between staying true to your artistic vision and considering external feedback and opinions?

CR: I’ve always struggled a bit with the need for everyone to like everything I’m doing all the time, and that’s true with music. I am always open to feedback and criticism or opinions, but I also know everyone’s going to have a different one and everyone’s not going to love every song I put out. So with that, really my only goal now when releasing a song is to make sure it’s honest, real, and something I’m proud of. Even if that means only a handful of people relate to it, that’s enough for me at the end of the day.

ZB: As a 22-year-old artist, how do you view the role of music in reflecting and shaping the experiences of young adults today? What message or themes do you hope your music conveys to your peers?

CR: I think music is seriously one of the biggest influences, cathartic outlets, and for lack of better words, soundtracks to the lives of young adults today. I’m writing about growing up and experiencing things for the first time as they happen to me, and I want my music to reflect that. I think that’s why there’s this messiness, this pretty sadness yet anticipation in my music that feels a lot like being young nowadays.

ZB: With millions of streams already and support from various media outlets, including EUPHORIA, Hollywood Life, and EARMILK, how do you handle the growing recognition and expectations as your career continues to gain momentum?

CR: I try not to think about it too much because I know if I do I’ll get in my head about it. It’s super encouraging and I’m so grateful for the growth of people supporting my music. It’s more than I could ever ask for, and I think the only way to handle it is to just keep writing honest music, not for the sake of trying to be or trying to appease a certain idea. I think real is all people want, and it’s all I want to write.

ZB: Can you give us a glimpse into what’s next for you in terms of upcoming projects or collaborations? What can fans expect from your music in the near future?

CR: There is a lot of music coming out in 2024. I’m actually about to release my next single, “Used by You,” on February 23, which sort of lays the foundation for my next few releases. These next few songs cover a wide range of emotions and sounds, so we’re getting ready to go on a bit of a rollercoaster of sorts, but I’m very excited about it!

Stream her song “Used by You,” out February 23 on all platforms!

Check out more great interviews here!