Photo courtesy of Karolina Rose
Ridgewood resident Karolina Rose's single "Goodnight, Mr. Moon" will be released on May 24.

Sitting outside the Milk & Pull cafe in Ridgewood, Karolina Rose is in a comfortable place. She often uses the cafe, which is just a short walk away from her apartment, as a space to work on her songwriting. It’s a far cry from her previous workspace: an office on Wall Street, where she used to work in finance.

Rose is a singer and songwriter on the verge of releasing the lead single from her debut EP on May 24, but to pursue her passion for making music she had to leave behind a life that many young people strive for.

After earning her bachelor’s degree from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Rose landed a job on Wall Street right away. She moved out of her parents’ house in Philadelphia, lived on her own in midtown Manhattan and made good money doing research on hedge fund managers — but something was always present in the back of her mind.

“I’d be in the middle of working on a report and some lines which were sort of like poetry would just come to me,” Rose said. “I’d grab my phone or a piece of paper and write it down.”

Though she sang melodies to herself and loved karaoke all her life, Rose said, she never thought of herself as a singer, and never thought of her poems as lyrics. Her epiphany came while on a work trip to Paris, when after a night out on the weekend she spontaneously joined a group of people performing on the street because she knew the song they were singing. A few songs later, she was still singing with her new friends.

When she returned to New York, Rose said, she couldn’t stop thinking about that moment. She began making connections in the music industry, took some voice lessons and taught herself how to play the guitar.

Before long, she found herself inside the recording studio of Andros Rodriguez, a Grammy-winning producer who has worked with the likes of Shakira and Florence + the Machine — two of Rose’s favorite artists — after sending him messages over and over on Facebook.

It’s been just over a year now since Rose quit her job on Wall Street to pursue music full time, and she and Rodriguez have already completed her debut project. Rose describes her style as a product of her unique life experiences and wide variety of musical idols that also include Gwen Stefani, Alanis Morissette, The Cranberries, Lauren Hill and more.

“I also have this European influence, so I love Euro-dance music. I really love music from Poland and I speak French fluently,” Rose said. “I guess there’s like this romantic element of me that I really want to get in my songs. I think all my songs come from this place of purity.”

Rose’s Polish heritage is also part of what led her to Ridgewood, she said. Her parents are both from Warsaw, Poland, and she is the first American-born member of her family. When looking for a more affordable place to live, Rose said one of her Polish friends from Ridgewood told her about the neighborhood and connected her to another friend who was looking for a roommate.

The lead single from Rose’s upcoming EP, titled “Goodnight, Mr. Moon,” comes from a slightly darker source of inspiration. Rose met the artist Heide Hatry, who was working on a project at the time that involved making portraits of deceased loved ones using their ashes, and Hatry asked Rose if she could make a song about death and perform it at a show she was hosting.

Having experienced tragedy in the past with the loss of her best friend to a heroin overdose, Rose was moved by grief and the images she saw in her nightmares. The resulting ballad is a metaphorical conversation with a lost lover under the moonlight that has dark undertones and an insightful theme.

The six-song EP is set to be released on Aug. 2 and also includes songs inspired by falling in love and the criticism she received from leaving her comfortable Wall Street job. Rose is already working on her second EP with producer Elliot Jacobson, and she admits that she is still trying to find her way in her new line of work. But in a way, that’s what the experience is all about.

“That’s what music is for: it’s an escape from reality to kind of build your own world and build your own ideal, like what is your perfect life?” Rose said.

Listen to Karolina Rose’s single “Goodnight, Mr. Moon” on May 24 by visiting her website or Spotify.


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