Infinity Crush’s Internal Love Songs
Caroline White on her new album, 'Virtual Heaven,' which you can stream now
Caroline White has been releasing hushed reveries as Infinity Crush for the better part of the decade. The musician and poet’s songs are consistently revelatory in how much they do with so little. They are suggestive, her words have a precious, unfiltered intimacy. They’re loaded with imagery that takes on a kind of dream logic, repetitive and portentous: snow falling, dreams of the apocalypse, purity and light, warmth and bodies.
Her new album, Virtual Heaven, is the first recorded in a proper studio, though it still holds onto the stillness and spontaneity of her earliest work. There’s barely-there guitar, strings that sound like miniature orchestras. It’s music that emphasizes quiet and space, lyrical daydreams that have the power to leave you breathless.
Virtual Heaven was written during a period of intense isolation for White, after she moved from Maryland to North Carolina, first in Wilmington to study poetry and later in Raleigh. She found herself alone in a new city, yearning for human connections that just weren’t there. “It’s been a very solitary era of my life,” White says. “I spend a lot of time alone, for better or for worse. I think that has single-handedly effected my songwriting more than anything — having more time to reflect and think and read.”
White often feels like a ghost in her newest songs, an apparition that’s waiting to become corporeal. “Do you feel me where you are? Do you think of me at all?” she asks on one song. “All we have is time, I grow with you for a while/ Then you run ahead of me and I’m left pretending.” Virtual Heaven is filled with love songs that are all internal, fantasies that play out with a persistent ache. It’s a remarkable collection, singularly compelling and reflective.
Stream Virtual Heaven in full below and read on for an interview with White about the album.
STEREOGUM: Is there a delineation for you when you’re writing songs versus when you’re writing a poem?
WHITE: I definitely thing they’re connected, and I will borrow from myself sometimes, but I’m also a lot easier on myself when writing songs because the nature of a song means you can get away with so much more. Being corny in a song — you can get away with it, at least at times. So I approach them differently.
STEREOGUM: A lot of your songs lack a traditional structure.
WHITE: Yeah, I noticed that like two months after we recorded the album. There’s literally, like, two choruses on the whole album. It’s about not forcing songs to do anything that didn’t feel natural. I don’t know if that’s necessarily the answer, though. The same way writing poetry or prose, sometimes if you force yourself into a box, you can come out with incredible things you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Like, if you force yourself to put a pre-chorus here and a chorus there, you can make great songs like that, but for this album I just took the approach of letting the songs lead me.
STEREOGUM: What were you hoping to get across with this album?
WHITE: After we recorded it, I was able to reflect on the album and notice things about it that I didn’t notice when I was writing. Certain things that naturally popped up a ton: nostalgia and the natural world and nostalgia associated with the natural world. Longing and trying to navigate morality — there’s a lot of lyrics about trying to figure out a framework of reality.
I think the most cohesive theme throughout is fantasizing. That ties into the loneliness and the isolation I was feeling at the time. A lot of the songs are romantic, but they aren’t really — they’re one-way relationships because of the distance. There’s so much fantasizing and projecting and longing and isolation. It’s all internal — none of this is real.
STEREOGUM: Why did you choose the title Virtual Heaven?
WHITE: I took it from a poem I liked by Charles Wright. The words weren’t actually together, but it was “heaven resplendent but virtual/ above me” and I really liked how disorienting that made me feel. It made me have a different perspective on the word virtual, which technically is anything that is implied and anything that isn’t directly tangible. Obviously now, in 2019, there’s such an implication of the internet. Everything online is virtual, and that’s true, but anything that is implied or isn’t tangible can be virtual too. That’s a theme throughout the album, too: What is reality, what isn’t? What is virtual, what isn’t?
STEREOGUM: This was your first album recorded in a real studio. How did that come about?
WHITE: I’m dramatic about a lot of stuff, but I’m really dramatic about songwriting. I’m always like, I’m never writing a song again, I’m never writing an album again. That’s me pretty much every single time after writing one song: That’s the end, I’m done. But I met my friend Jordan [Bleau], who is the band Cheap Fantasy, and we really hit it off when we played a show together. I had free flights because I was working for an airline, so I went to Minneapolis where he lives and we ended up recording a few songs together for fun. And it turned out really well so I went back a few more times to record the album. It was pretty brutal because we did a lot of the overnight shifts because they were cheaper. It was pretty moving to be able to have these resources and use them. I didn’t really think I’d ever be able to have that opportunity, so I felt like I needed to act on it.
STEREOGUM: Did you feel any trepidation because of that? Did it feel more real because you were in this professional-ish environment?
WHITE: Yeah, and I think part of the realness came from being like, OK, I have to pay for this so I have to do this. I love quitting, it’s one of my favorite things to do, but I was like, I paid for this so I have to do it. There’s another person involved and I’m making a commitment. It really pushed me.
STEREOGUM: How do you see Infinity Crush in the grand scheme of things? Do you think of it as a potential career or does that seem unrealistic?
WHITE: I mean, it would be great if it was a career. That would be really cool, I’d love that eventually. But at his point, I’ve missed the window to be a sudden hype band. Where did they come from? This is their first album, they’re 19 and we love it! That’s not gonna be me. But every release you do, more people find it. I’m gonna keep trying. I have a few more years here to try. I think other styles of music definitely appeal to me, too, and I might branch out. But I don’t know if I’ll do this forever.
08/14 San Diego, CA @ Che Cafe *
08/15 Los Angeles, CA @ Hi Hat *
08/16 San Francisco, CA @ Thee Parkside *
08/19 Sacramento, CA @ Momo *
08/20 Portland, OR @ Paris Theatre *
08/21 Seattle, WA @ Vera Project *
08/22 Vancouver, BC @ KW Studios *
08/25 Denver, CO @ Lost Lake *
08/26 Omaha, NE @ The Waiting Room *
08/27 Kansas City, MO @ Encore *
08/28 Iowa City, IA @ Vaudeville Mewes *
08/29 St Louis, MO @ FOAM *
08/30 Chicago, IL @ Beat Kitchen *
* w/ Nicole Dollanganger
Virtual Heaven is out 8/9 via Joy Void Recordings. Order it here.