The Nashville-Based Musician Caroline Ramano Talks To Us About Her Career and Her Latest Single,”Used by You”

With the self-imposed title of the “loudest sort of introvert,” becoming a performer may not have been the most obvious career path for the Mississippi-born musician Caroline Romano, but there was nothing else she wanted more. “I physically get sick sometimes, thinking about making a phone call or, like, going through a drive-thru or something,” she tells Post-Burnout.

“And I’m, like, horrible at basic interaction, but when I get on stage, it’s like something clicks and I’m not afraid, and people are receptive to me and I’m receptive to people. It feels like I’m waiting my whole life to feel those brief moments on stage. So, yeah, I can’t explain it – and I probably never will be able to – but it’s where I strive, for sure.”

Although only 22 years old, Caroline is already a well-seasoned musician. At age 13, after taking inspiration from a documentary on Taylor Swift that showed her early years performing gigs in Nashville, Tennessee, Caroline convinced her parents to drive her nine hours north to the Music City to follow in her footsteps.

“I think my first trip here was 2014, 2015,” remembers Caroline, when discussing her early days performing at open mic nights in venues with age restrictions. “And I remember, for a lot of shows, I would have to wait outside – rain, shine, cold, whatever – and then I was only allowed in the venue for the brief thirty minutes that I was on stage, then I had to leave!”

Still, Caroline found Nashville to not only be a very inspiring place, but a very accommodating one, too. “It’s crazy how there’s just so much enormous talent, and this is everyone’s livelihood and everyone’s working towards the same goal, but everyone is just trying to come up together,” she says. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a negative or competitive experience in Nashville, which is amazing.”

Photo by Kelsey Runge
Courtesy of Tallulah PR+MGMT

Through her time doing open mics in Nashville, Caroline began raising her profile, establishing connections, and recording and releasing music. By the time she was 15, she already had some of her songs released. Back in Mississippi, the kids at her school began discovering her music. “I was terrified,” Caroline says.

“Like, I was someone…I did not talk to people in school; I was so quiet. And no one knew that I did this – like, every weekend, that I was going up to Nashville and doing this – so, some people were generally just curious. Some people…I mean, like, some people were calling me Hannah Montana for a minute, and that’s not mean but I was like, ‘That’s fine.’ So, there were some mean people, but I was terrified for people to know anything about me in school.”

But, in the end, Caroline feels that this was ultimately a positive experience. “I think it made it a little easier, once the Band-Aid was ripped off,” she says. “Once everyone knew, I was like, ‘It’s cool.’ And then there were people who were like, ‘I am listening to your music, and it’s good and you’re cool,’ and I was like, ‘That’s awesome!’ But, yeah, I think I was kind of just like, ‘I’m just going to keep going because it’s what I want to do, and whether people like it or not, I really can’t think too much about that.’  But it definitely got a little easier after the initial first time.”

Caroline did indeed continue working on music. She continued gigging and releasing new music and, in 2019, after finishing school, she was finally able to move to Nashville to pursue her dream. But just after getting settled, Caroline went back to Mississippi in March 2020 for what should have been a three-day visit for her dad’s birthday, only to end up spending the majority of the lockdown there. That May, her new single featuring R3HAB, “I Still Remember,” would blow up, requiring her to adapt to working remotely at home in a busy period.

Still, that time was not without its merits. “I think it was very beneficial,” Caroline says. “I needed that time to get some perspective about, ‘I’m starting out. This is what’s important, this is what’s not,’ and, like, just being able to balance it all, and the fact that I saw that I was still able to do some stuff from my home helped a lot, and to just have that time to not be ‘Go, go, go’ all the time was necessary.”

After the pandemic, Caroline released her debut album, Oddities & Prodigies, in 2022. As an ever-expanding artist, she finds it necessary to constantly consume new art and diversify her range. “I get told all the time, ‘What is your sound? What is your genre? No one has any idea,’” she says. “And I totally get that, and I apologise to those people, but I think the only common thread is my voicings and my subject matters, but I think, growing up, it’s almost impossible to pick a genre.

“[…] I’ve always been a naturally sad, depressive person, and I was writing music like that at the time, but they were like, ‘Maybe this isn’t the best way to start your career off, by doing this at 15.’  So, I was putting out really pop[py] music – which I’m really proud of, and it’s up, and I’m really happy with that – but also, as I started growing older and getting a voice, that sound kind of shifted with me, and it shifts with me through seasons. I think that’s why it works for people like Taylor Swift. An EP I put out last summer, [A Brief Epic], is very soft and poetic and almost grieving, and the music I’m putting out now is almost like the aftermath of that anger and just a little bit of sporadicness [sic] of being 22.”

Describing her most recent music as “somewhere between alternative and rock and pop,” Caroline namechecks Paramore, My Chemical Romance, and early Taylor Swift as inspirations for her current trajectory, which can be heard showcased on her latest single, “Used by You,” which was released towards the end of February.

The song deals with unrequited love and Caroline admits it was a track she was uncertain if she even wanted to release. “The song definitely touches on the lack of confidence, I guess, in that area of my life, and feeling like you have to do those things to keep somebody,” says Caroline of the track. “I think that’s definitely evident in the song, and it’s probably one of the reasons I was like, ‘I don’t want to put this song out,’ because it doesn’t make me look very good, and that scared me a little bit, but it’s true. I was sending the song around to some of my friends and they were like, ‘This is very true of what happens when you’re young, a lot of the time.’ Everyone wants someone to love, and they’ll do things to themselves to make themselves less, in order to keep that or, at least, the perception of that.

“And ‘Used by You’ is basically just about a situation where you’re kind of in something with somebody but they’re not fully in with you, and they’re running around on you – at least from personal experience – but you’re trying to just [have] blinders on and overlook it for the little moments where they’re nice and good, and not think about the rest, because you’d rather hate yourself than hate being alone without them, kind of thing. It’s a brutal song. It’s not fun. And there’s no reprise where it’s like, ‘Yeah, but I’m awesome!’ There’s none of that. So, I was like, ‘I don’t know if this is a good idea,’ but I’m just trying to be honest.”

For the rest of the year, Caroline plans on recording and releasing more music, and, next month, she will embark on her first national tour. “I think this is the weirdest point in time to be a musician – to be anyone, really – but you’ve got so much opportunity but everyone’s doing everything, so all the bases are covered,” says Caroline on the circumstances which allow her to do what she is doing.

“And I guess there is a lot of freedom in that. Like, no one’s sitting here, telling me, ‘You can’t do that or else the record press will freak out,’  you know? So, I think it’s an awesome time to be a musician – people are very open and receptive to everything, which I love – but it’s also just competing in a way bigger, way bigger market than before.”

Caroline Romano’s latest single, “Used by You,” is now available on all streaming platforms. You can keep up with Caroline’s music, tour dates and social media accounts on her website. You can listen to our interview in full on today’s episode of POSTBURNOUT.COM Interviews… at 17:00 (IST) on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Amazon Music Podcasts.

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