Yodeler Chappell Roan discusses new album and upcoming tour with Olivia Rodrigo

Chappell Roane’s brilliant, innuendo-filled debut album, The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess, was released in September. 22. Roan was born and raised in Missouri. He left the state for Hollywood shortly after being discovered on YouTube by Atlantic Records. They left her in 2020, and she returned home for several months, where she considered leaving music altogether.

She eventually returned to Los Angeles, Amusement/Island Records signed her in 2023, and the rest is history in the making. With over a million monthly listeners on Spotify, a thriving presence on TikTok, and collaborations with some of pop’s biggest artists, Roan isn’t a household name or chart-topper just yet, but the future looks bright.

Next year, she will join Olivia Rodrigo’s world tour, which hits the United Center in Chicago on March 19-20. They share a producer, Dan Nigro, Rodrigo’s longtime and closest collaborator.

Rohan, like Rodrigo, has a talent for theatrical, irreverent pop songwriting – even when the truth is embarrassing – which is highlighted by her vocal range.

“I think a lot of the songs come from dreams, and a lot of those dreams come from Missouri, from this depressed state of not growing a queer community and feeling really weird,” she says. It is this background that gives her a deep understanding of what it means to be an outsider and draws the listener in.

By phone, Roan spoke to the AP about her new album, weirdness and finding her voice. This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Question: Your name is Kaylee Rose Amstutz. Is Chappell Roan a character? Per person? A way to protect your privacy?


A: It’s constantly evolving, but lately it’s been more of a drag project, especially now that I’m (on) tour. Every night I perform in drag queens and drag queens open up for me. So, it’s easier to separate the two because I’m already so involved in my project, in my work, and I feel like the gravity of it all allows you to take a break when I take off my makeup, when I go away. stage, etc.

I would say that mythology… it’s like being a Midwestern girl and experiencing Hollywood. And there’s the cliché: “Small town girl goes to the big city to make it big.” But it’s about self-exploration, freedom, and finding a community she didn’t have before.

Q: There’s an old cliché about debut records: you have your whole life to write them, which makes the next album a little daunting. But the pressure to present yourself as a fully formed artist must be enormous. How long did you sit and work on some of these songs?

O, sure. “Nudes in Manhattan,” “Red Wine Supernova,” “California” were written four or five years ago. It just takes a long time to get there. “Guilty Pleasure” was written three years ago. They sat in storage for years and years and years and I abandoned them over and over again. Dan (Nigro) really helped me bring them back to life and believe in them again.

Question: I’m interested in a song like “Casual” as it describes the sometimes confusing and always frustrating experience of being in a “situation” (a relationship that hasn’t been defined).

A: I just felt completely different from the person I was dating. My friend said they were talking about our relationship and how they ended it and said it was no big deal because it was an accident and for me it wasn’t an accident. Like in general. I created all these non-existent relationships. Like, I dreamed of meeting their friends and maybe renting an apartment together… Don’t relax your girl vibes. When I heard them say it was an accident, a feeling of betrayal exploded inside me. Although they had every right to say that it was accidental.

Q: There’s a kind of relentless openness to weirdness and sexuality on this album—and it’s subdued, not whispered or meek.

A: The reality is that I am not like that at all. I feel very uncomfortable… when people flirt with me. Chappell as a drag queen—I can express that version of myself. But it’s definitely not something I do regularly. The songs seem to give me the opportunity to behave this way, speak this way and dress like this. … It’s all a riot. That’s what it is. I think that’s very encouraging to a lot of people. … For me, it’s not as inspiring as bringing a fantasy to life. Very strange.

Q: And you have a very unique vocal tone – were you involved in musical theater as a child? Where did this come from?

A: When I was younger, I really loved Karen Carpenter and really wanted to emulate her. And then, I really like Stevie Nicks, her gravel and the vibrato that she brought. And then I tried to mix these two concepts. And then I got a really weird accent that I got rid of when I moved to Los Angeles, and then I just got really into my yodeling. I was never properly trained in yodel or even vocals. I took my first vocal lesson, a real vocal lesson, in December.

Question: Hard to believe! In addition, I saw that you help fans who cannot afford tickets to your concerts. What’s the idea there?

A: I did the scholarship program in the beginning when the tour sold out because I feel like no one has any money and I didn’t want weird kids in the Midwest who couldn’t afford to join in a way that was safe for them. place (to skip out), just because they don’t earn enough. Or their parents don’t earn enough or something like that. So I just know how it feels. I know that a concert ticket sometimes means multiple meals and a lot of gas. And like, I was there. … I just think it’s important because who cares about putting on a great show if the people who need it most can’t be there.

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