By Emily Merrell
Everyone has a version of sliding doors for their lives. What happens if you take the corporate job versus pursuing your musical dreams? Karolina Rose got to live both versions. After a successful career on Wall Street, Karolina and boldly moved away from finance to pursue her musical passions. Learn how this Wall Street Maven chased her dreams and her journey to stardom.
SDS: Karolina, congratulations on your new single “Greytopia”. I quickly added it to my regular rotation of music! I’m so in awe of your story. Before you were the “indie diva” of music you were a high-powered Wall Street gal. At what point in your career were you able to walk away from your corporate job to pursue your creative side?
KAROLINA ROSE: Thank you so much. I am so happy to connect with you. The only constant in life is change, I suppose. The group I was in was smaller, so that allowed me to get a senior position more quickly. I was a portfolio manager when I left and started as an analyst. I kept getting pulled in the direction of music more and more, so I started saving as much as I could. My instincts were telling me I wouldn’t be able to hold on much longer. I was quite loyal to the company, but I started feeling increasingly distracted by my music projects. I would say it wasn’t really a choice to leave. I felt a force pushing me out. I just felt myself change so much. I met my first producer, Andros Rodriguez, and we began recording songs, which became my first EP, INVICTA. That’s right around when I gave my notice, but I stayed on for some time after that to help them hire and transition someone else to my role.
SDS: Often times we are forced to choose between one thing or another. Can you tell us about your music as a side hustle? How did you balance performing and writing while maintaining a traditional 9-5?
KR: My job wasn’t a true 9-5. It was 9 till whenever the job got done. That sometimes meant late nights and weekends when I was preparing for things like investment committee meetings. I think initially I was able to balance music and my job by consistently by waking up an hour or so earlier to play guitar and write in the mornings. I’d go to open mics or karaoke after work. I was in a Polish cover band and a Polish choir. Anywhere I could perform. I started booking shows acoustically on guitar. Eventually, I got a band together ss I started recording more original songs. It’s a matter of what you make a priority in your free time and I think also dealing with a little sleep deprivation.
SDS: As a child of Polish immigrants did you get any pushback from your family or friends in pursuing the more “risky” choice?
KR: Yes, absolutely. People in general seem to judge what they’d be afraid to do themselves. That’s partly what “Greytopia” is about. It’s a planet where we may feel that fear for ourselves and others, but we know we accept it as is and plow forward anyways towards reaching our dreams. Towards what we perceive as our highest selves. Fear is just the counter emotion to love and joy. It’s there, but we don’t have to let it rule.
SDS: What has been the most exciting part of your music career thus far?
KR: One of the most thrilling experiences so far definitely had to be performing on live television TVP Polonia in Warsaw, Poland this past summer. That was my first time interviewing and performing on TV and it was so fun.
SDS: What’s the best way we can go about celebrating and supporting new musical talent?
KR: Share the music and videos with the people you care about. Buy an extra ticket for a friend to go with you to their next show. Gift some merch for a friend. DM your favorite artists and tell them your experience with the music. They will appreciate it. They will feel encouraged to keep going and make more art.
SDS: Lastly, what’s next for you and your music? Any upcoming tours or performances we can check out?
KR: I’ll be releasing my next single on November 8th. It’ll be part II of the next EP.
I just got back from a three month tour in Europe where I was performing and also gathering material for my next project. I’m currently in Los Angeles for a couple of months. I just had my debut performance here with my band at The Hotel Cafe. I’m performing again on Nov. 9th at Magic Box as part of the Coffee Music Festival. I’m working on a few more dates before I head back East for some shows. You can follow me on Spotify, Bandsintown, Songkick or karolinarose.com for news on shows in your town.