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An experimental rock outfit based out of London, caroline’s patient, meditative songs and instrumentals started with a shared interest in Midwestern emo, Appalachian folk, and classical minimalism, and a practice of deconstructing and then rebuilding the same small groups of songs. As they expanded their repertoire and their membership, they played their first series of shows in alternative spaces in 2018, then delivered their self-titled debut album in 2022.
England’s caroline took root in early 2017 as a weekly improvisational get-together without a name. Vocalist/drummer/cellist Jasper Llewellyn and guitarist Casper Hughes first met as university students in Manchester before moving to London for grad school, where they started the project in practice rooms with second guitarist Mike O’Malley, a younger friend of Llewellyn’s. They spent a year or so playing together, sometimes with a bassist, before deciding they wanted to add a violinist, due in part to the influence of composer Christopher Tignor. The group ended up with two violinists, Oliver Hamilton and Magdalena McLean, and added a second drummer in Hugh Aynsley. Woodwindist Alex McKenzie and trumpeter Freddy Wordsworth eventually rounded out the octet for their first live performance as caroline in 2018.
They were operating completely offline, playing shows in the round in locations like an abandoned swimming pool and a power plant when Rough Trade founder Geoff Travis caught a show in September 2019. The bandmembers were shocked when he offered them a record contract. They were officially signed in January 2020 and made their recording debut with the 12″ single “Dark blue” b/w “BRJ” in April. “Dark blue” resurfaced on their full-length debut, caroline, in February 2022. It was partly assembled collage-style from recordings in spaces ranging from a swimming pool, a barn in France, various living rooms, and sessions at their studio in Peckham. ~ Marcy Donelson