Caroline: A Degree In Dream Pop
- Words: Fred Miketa
A fascinating voice has ascended from the bustling musical circuitry of Japan: Caroline. With dreamy vocals and captivating programming-somewhere between the melancholic charm of The Cranes' Ali Shaw and the innocently sensual minimalism of the Ghostly International roster-24-year-old Caroline Lufkin is staking a unique place for herself in a pop-ambient sphere already congested with Björk and Tujiko Noriko imposters.
As Lufkin explains, it's been quite a journey to the release of her debut long-player Murmurs, on Brooklyn's Temporary Residence (the home of epic and densely powerful instrumental bands Mono and Explosions in the Sky). After moving to Boston from Japan at age 18, Caroline enrolled in the esteemed Berklee College of Music to study songwriting as a vocal principle. Though analyzing a variety of music under the guidance of professors certainly aided this ambitious pop gem, it didn't define her style. "I wouldn't say that the songwriting department [at Berklee] helped me, but the harmony department did," giggles Caroline. "It was just good listening to other people and being inspired by [them]."
Upon graduating, it wasn't all glory for the motivated vocalist. Seeing potential in Japan for her music, Caroline migrated back to Tokyo, hoping to produce an album that captured her essence. Unfortunately, the Japanese market wasn't quite ready for her. "Basically, my old management took me around to a lot of record labels and they all said ''Yes,'' but in the middle of recording my album, it wasn't going the way I wanted. So I just kind of quit," says Lufkin. "Everyone was really nice and supportive of the record, but they already had an image of me in mind and I didn't want that."
Instead of engulfing herself in J-pop, Caroline moved to Los Angeles and recorded the synth-saturated single "Where's My Love," instantly forming a relationship with Temporary Residence. "I just emailed them and asked if I could send my demo. I guess I was lucky because they liked my songs; a few days later they were like, 'We're gonna sign you," she recalls.
Excited by the whirlwind of Murmurs and planning an extensive tour in the fall, this diligent songstress refuses to compromise her musical vision. "I want to stay away from the jingles, even if it's a quick way to make money," she says. "I just want to concentrate on my music."
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