ABOVE: CAROLINE VREELAND IN L.A., OCTOBER 2014. PHOTOS BY CARA ROBBINS. STYLING BY SHEA MARIE.
Caroline Vreeland realized she wanted to sing at the age of eight. Since then, life, she explains, has been a means to an end. The great-granddaughter of legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland and a budding fashion icon herself, with an impressive Instagram following, it seems it was only a matter of time before Vreeland’s reality caught up with the trajectory she had envisioned for herself. In 2013, Vreeland, who lives in California, went so far as to appear on American Idol.
ALYA MOORO: How would you describe your sound and how did you come to it?
CAROLINE VREELAND: The sound that I have now is a mixture between Fiona Apple meets The Weeknd meets Portishead—a little bit ’90s, a little bit urban but dark. I thought early on that I wanted to do R&B, like maybe a Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys-type style. As I’ve grown up, I’ve developed more of my own unique thing. When you’re a singer and you’re young, you hear Alicia Keys or Beyoncé and you want to sing exactly like they do, even though that might not be your voice. As you get older you start to learn that it’s okay to do your own thing and the way you approach a note, that’s what’s interesting about you. It’s pretty much a process of understanding that it’s okay to be who you are and finding out what that is.
MOORO: Your great-grandmother is Diana Vreeland so creativity seems to run in your blood. Were your parents supportive of your artistic endeavors?
VREELAND: It was exactly split down the middle. My mom was always very supportive, she was just that perfect mum who literally did everything to support what I wanted to do. My dad, we’ve never been very close… he’s German; he’s a diplomat, so he’s always traveling. I don’t know if he wants to try and understand. He’ll say things like: “Come to Germany and go to university for free.” He just doesn’t understand my life or my friends or what I’m trying to do with my music. As I get older, the things you wish would have happened kind of start to trickle in… I’m kind of dealing with that now but it’s good songwriting fodder!
MOORO: What’s your writing process like?
VREELAND: I’m constantly finding inspiration in everything, whether it’s a book I’m reading or something that happened to me. “The Mauling” I wrote about my great aunt—she was mauled in the street. Teenagers would come up behind old women and hit them over the head. It’s obviously appalling to think that someone would do that, but she was actually one of those people. My boyfriend and I were just in Rome and we went to go see her. I didn’t play her the song. I didn’t know if it was going to be appropriate, but I did write it about that.
MOORO: Is there ever anything you feel is too personal to reveal or is that the whole point?
VREELAND: I am an open book; there’s nothing that’s taboo for me. I just want to be exactly who I am and I don’t really hold back. At the risk of sounding like I think I’m holier-than-thou or something, what I’m doing is I’m trying to make music for people to understand themselves and to feel comforted [by]—how can I do that by not showing them the good and bad sides of myself?
MOORO: You recently tweeted “We have art in order not to die from the truth.” Is art a form of purging for you?
VREELAND: I’m constantly amazed that I’m able to have that process; that I’m able to take a negative thing—to be honest, most of the stuff I write is dark—and make something positive and beautiful out of it. I look at other people in my life, my mom for instance, or other people who might not have that artistic outlet, and I don’t know how they handle anything! I don’t know how they don’t freak out.
MOORO: You’ve got so many followers on Instagram. Do you think that plays into the whole music side of things?
VREELAND: It does and I was actually very reluctant to embrace the whole social media thing. I live with Shea Marie who is a fashion stylist and kind of a fashion it-girl and she was like, “You’re foolish that you don’t have this!'”Once I finally did embrace social media I realized how important it is. If that’s my whole goal to make music so people hear it, I need to be able to reach them in a way that’s personal and intimate. Instagram has been really great for me. I book a lot of jobs from it. It’s given me a lot of opportunity and I think I was wrong to judge it at first.
MOORO: If you could have the eyes and ears of the whole world what would you want to tell them?
VREELAND: Especially to people who are trying to work on their art, my main thing I would say is don’t listen to anybody— especially in L.A.—who tells you that you have to compromise to get what you want. People will always say, “Oh, just be in this girl group” or “sing this pop song” or “do this YouTube video with this YouTube sensation guy and then once you have a following, once a million people see you then you can do what you want…” I never follow that. It took me a lot longer to get to where I’m going now but I would encourage people to never listen to that and always stay true to yourself no matter how much longer it takes. For me it’s about the music not what comes after… it wasn’t worth it.
My core intent is not to have fame or be rich or anything like that, my intent is for people to hear my music and like it and feel that they can take something in. I love Adele and I went through a breakup while that second album came out, and she wrote every song about me and my situation—I’m sure of it! That’s what I want people to feel. My new album is called In Ruins because it’s a way of admitting your fears. You’re not saying sorry, you’re not saying “I’m going to fix myself,” you’re saying “this is how I am right now; I’m not perfect and these are my fears.”
FOR MORE ON CAROLINE VREELAND, VISIT HER WEBSITE.