Edited by Anna Mengani
Angus Williams, also known as CARAMEL, is a 19-year-old producer, audio engineer, and singer/songwriter whose new single, 'Gone by the Morning' has garnered over 1,500 streams in just two weeks. Released on January 27th, this single sets the tone for his upcoming album, Roadtrip, coming in April. He describes the essential theme as being growth; citing the transition into college, as well as the drive there with his mother, being two vital inspirations, "We were just unpacking everything we’ve been through…there’s also romance, heartbreak, just growth as a coming-of-age person.”
His debut EP, Traveler (2021), helped establish his brand of "expression.” As a sophomore at Boston College, CARAMEL reflects on his own journey from his hometown, Cleveland, Ohio to a new city in pursuit of furthering his studies. In doing so, he successfully portrays the universal feeling of wanderlust that many teenagers venturing into adulthood have in common. "I think a lot of people, including myself, ask themselves, "What am I going to do? What am I going to study? Am I going to find love? Am I going to figure out who I am?’ To me, that feels like a wanderer or traveler.” Classically trained in piano since he was 10 years old, CARAMEL shifted from intensive classical work to experimenting with mediums such as Garageband and Soundtrap, enabling him to discover his own sound and subsequently, his love for producing.
His new single is distinguishable from his other songs through its incorporation of multiple genres. While the song is mainly alternative pop, CARAMEL introduces an afro-pop groove in the end that "transitions really smoothly and works with the whole theme.” Additionally, the cover art of both the song and soon-to-be-released album, is the result of a combined effort between photographers and digital artists, Benjamin Burke and Pedro Chiesa, who are close friends with CARAMEL. While the finished product has proven to be a success, determining when a song is completed is not an easy decision, "Sometimes I need a third person to come in because I’m constantly in my head–I’m a perfectionist, it takes so long for me to make something that I want to put out. I started Traveler in 2020 and it took me awhile to finish all those songs, but luckily Roadtrip was a little quicker.”
As the saying famously goes, for a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must become completely undone, which is exactly what CARAMEL does in this song. By allowing himself to unravel all of his emotions, he transforms into the purest form of love–vulnerability. "My co-writer, Brian Kazinduka, puts this perfectly, the first half of the song is the acceptance of grief and growth and the second half is more of the anger.” This artistic choice of having acceptance precede the feelings of frustration and confusion is more realistic than if it had been reversed. This signifies to the listener that much like growth, healing is not linear. It comes and goes in waves and the fight against the current is the true test of strength. 'Gone by the Morning' begins slowly with simple piano notes accompanied by CARAMEL’s soulful voice. As the song progresses, they increase in frequency, representing the excitement that characterizes young love. The buildup of the melody in the background is low and heavy complementing the lyric, "The weight of your love, I can’t move,” attributing to the intensity of love and its power to create a seemingly unbreakable bond. His voice dominates the majority of the song until the two-minute mark where his vocals take a backseat, allowing the instrumentals to speak for themselves.
Near the end of 'Gone by the Morning,' he returns and no longer implores his lover, but rather enters a cathartic state, allowing the angry passion to take over. Although intended for a young audience, this song transcends the boundaries of age in the sense that growth in the hands of love can be felt in every stage of life–it’s timeless. Romantic or platonic, anyone who listens to this song can resonate with the heartfelt lyrics because even though falling in love is effortless, letting go is no easy feat which is the message CARAMEL seamlessly translates into his work. The verse, "It’s so wild, I’m in love with you” plays in the background while the chorus, “All of this falling down, catching me it’s exhausting” prevails. This tug of war between your heart and head is an internal battle that many can relate to; though bittersweet, the best way to move on is to allow yourself to feel. It’s not a dismissal of love, but instead the realization that you must let go of what no longer serves you in order to make room for love that cultivates growth.
Anjali: What feelings do you want to evoke in the listeners?
Angus: I would say the feeling of wanting to get up and move forward and not look behind you, unless it’s to see how far you’ve come. That’s the whole 'Gone by the Morning' vibe, just leave behind all the toxicity.
Although this song is within the alternative dance-pop realm, CARAMEL hopes to do more exploring as he feels his genre is limitless. As a testament to his own self-discovery, the artist himself, just like his listeners, is no stranger to the uncertainty and exhilaration that new-found independence entails. As a POC, these feelings are only exacerbated by this and in creating music, he hopes to connect with a diverse audience, especially the Black community. Attending a predominantly White institution, he describes his experience as being difficult at first, but this year has allowed him to "reach out to a lot of Black professors, meet more African people from all different regions…that kind of networking has made it a lot easier to curate events…”
In light of Black History Month, CARAMEL has started a Spoken Word showcase and a music showcase with Black-led acapella groups at Boston College where he performs as well. This summer, he will be back in Cleveland accompanied by poet and friend, Weatherspoon, where there will be more work to be seen. This song is a product of love itself. Just as some musicians feel like there is always more that can be done to improve their work, humans share the same sentiment with their own lives. It’s normal to become swept up in the chaos of youth, but we’re all a work in progress–sometimes becoming the best version of yourself means accepting the worst parts of yourself. Entering unfamiliar terrain, whether that may be college, a new job, or a relationship, is scary, but "CARAMEL believes we are all travelers and writes his music as a way to guide himself, and others, to their final destination,” and Roadtrip will do just that.
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