TGG guest writer Molly MacDuff chats with Caroline Meade to discuss her latest single, “I HATE IT!”
“I write my meanest songs on my best days,” singer/songwriter Caroline Meade explains to me. On one of these days, “I HATE IT!” was born. As the first single since her 2018 debut album Grow Up, the August 9th release is an exclamation of frustration and emotion. It’s a call to a new era for the NYU Clive Davis student. A true culmination of Meade’s personal style and intuition.
Beginning with an emotive intro of “There are a billion people in the world, how the fuck did I think you’re the one?” the listener gets a scope into the artist’s attitude. It sets the tone for the song, the idea that when we grow up, we think that one blimp in your life is going to be it, and it’s so obviously not. This sentiment is continued through lyrics like “I wanted it so badly, everything that I have now,” and “if I seem happy to be happy, I’m faking it.”
As to the central theme of “I HATE IT!” Meade explains, “It’s really just a song about grief. I was grieving over the idea that I was living my life as I imagined it but without that one person in it, that person that I imagined it with.”
Co-producing the song with fellow Clive musician, Alejandro Villarasa Corriero, Meade knew the production of the song needed to match the punchy lyricism. Personal style and intuition are at the forefront of her creative process. “I write all my songs in twenty minutes,” Meade casually says, joking that “Patience is the name of the game [with songwriting] but unfortunately I have none of it.” Her editing process, of course, takes more time, but the skeleton has to be done within about twenty minutes.
In terms of the production of “I HATE IT!,” Meade wrote that skeleton on guitar, noting that she only changed one or two lyrics for the final track. Her vision of the final production was clear as well: she knew she wanted the track to be acoustic-driven with a heavily distorted, grand chorus and an extremely percussive feel to match the emotion within the lyrics. The “I HATE IT!” in particular needed to sound as exclamatory and angsty as the all-caps lyric.
The Staten Island born singer/songwriter spent most of her childhood as a theatre kid, auditioning for Broadway shows and writing truly awful acapella songs. “It was so good that I had time to get out all the bad music,” she laughs. Her love and talent for songwriting came from spending time alone: “I think it’s so important to let kids be bored,” she says, as a reason for her intense creativity. “You have so much more bravery and fierce-individualism as a child; the worry and failure of whether someone likes what you’ve written isn’t there.”
Music has been a vital part of Meade’s life. She has become so attached and impacted by it that to her, it feels like the natural order of things to have her own take on it. “I don’t understand loving something and not doing it,” Meade says. “[Music} is touching me and reaching out to me on such a degree that it doesn’t feel like a choice. It’s just my path of living and appreciation for what I love.”
For Meade, songwriting became a portal to her actual self. “You go through phases of fearlessness, being very scared, then comfortable, then scared of something new,” she says. The worry that no one will resonate with songwriting is real. “It took me a long time to actually like myself and my songs, and now I have to convince other people of that too.”
Meade describes “I HATE IT!” as a prologue to her upcoming album. She’s been in the writing process for quite a while, as some of the songs on the upcoming album are up to four years old. Where Grow Up was straight-forward indie rock, “I HATE IT!” and following singles are heavier and smarter. “This song is a good intro to grown-up Caroline music,” the artist says. “It’s a combination of deaf tones and Maggie Rogers, like really heavy rock music but with a glitch.” With plans to release several singles throughout the year before introducing her album, Meade’s goal is to have a bunch of songs that are people’s favorite songs. Meeting an artist who takes time with creation, someone who is more interested in creating re-listenable songs rather than simply churning out something meaningless, is admirable. It changes you, makes you see the art in a new light. As Meade earnestly says, “at the end of the day, I just want to be entertaining.” Meade
“I think I’m most inspired by the music I haven’t written yet,” she says. “You can’t lose your creativity, you’ll always have another idea, because you haven’t run out of ideas yet.” The excitement of feeling charged and spent in creating a song is what draws Meade to music, what makes it a vital part of her life. This is the same energy that flows through her music.