Still Finding Her Way: An Interview with burwell

The music world met Whitney Caroline in bands such as The Cheap Royals and The Tide Rose, but as she embarks on her journey as a solo artist, she brings pieces of her past with her.

Her passion for music started at home; learning piano from her mother on a keyboard with washable markers, writing poetry in middle school and finding songwriting in high school. When she first started writing songs, however, she didn’t necessarily think that she would ever release them.

“So many songs I’ve written have felt like batting practice, or journaling with a kind of melody,” she said. “With my first single/EP release, I think I just believed in the songs in a different way. As I found myself writing more, I noticed some songs came with a vision for how they might live beyond the moment I wrote them and I wanted to set those songs free.”

Her first show solidified her passion and it wasn’t long before she moved to Nashville for an internship and never left. While her career as a musician began before the move, Nashville is where she found the freedom to be herself “without any preconceived notions, history or memories of any kind.” She loved the thrill of not knowing a single person when she arrived and thrived on exploring this new version of her.

She currently plays under the moniker burwell, a tribute to a family name that she originally tried to leave in the past.

"I thought changing my name would help me let go of history... but it stayed with me like a memory,” she said.

So far this year, she has noticed a theme in her music of escaping from the present moment. Music has been a large source of escape for her lately, from the loss of her mother to the ongoing distresses of the current state of the world. She first released “Can’t Stop” and wrote about the ways she’s escaped the present moment through daydreaming. She also released a cover of Relient K’s “Be My Escape” which she felt fitting during the various stay-at-home orders. Her latest release, “Forever Young”, is a collaboration with Liam Keegan and far outside her comfort zone.

She wrote the song back in 2018 the day after leaving her full-time job to fully pursue music. It was what she called a “play day” in the studio and was her way of celebrating what was to come next.

“When [Keegan] turned the song into a dance track, it took on a whole new life,” she said. “If you feel like you’ve been stuck in a rut or are overwhelmed by responsibility of any kind, this song is a reminder that growing up is optional.”

Whitney Caroline has embraced every part of her musical journey as it has grown and evolved. By releasing music under the name burwell, it shows that she, too, has grown and evolved.

“My love for music has grown in beauty and depth over the years; music has played a unique role in every area of life that matters to me,” she said. “With every release, my goal has been to open up a little more, just to be a little more honest and share my words in a way that feels true… I’m still finding my way.”