Chappell Roan on debut album “The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess”

Chappell Roan’s debut album, The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess, has been nearly a decade in the making.

Roan’s career had a fairytale beginning: After posting covers on YouTube, she was signed to Atlantic Records at just 17, which took her from small-town Missouri to Hollywood. In 2017, she released an EP titled School Nights, but in 2020, Roan was dropped by the label. Motivated by rejection, Roan reinvented herself and her music—with the help of Olivia Rodrigo’s favorite producer, Dan Nigro—swapping her singer-songwriter roots for campy, euphoric pop that’s begging to be rocked in gay clubs. Roan, now 25, is proud to say her album, out September 22, is the “absolute opposite” of
her first attempt.

“I love this music and that’s a big difference between my EP and now,” says Roan. “I rose from the ashes of losing all my money, moving back in with my parents and working on the thoroughfare – this beautiful project was brought to life from the depths of hell.”

Why was it important to reference your Midwest roots in the album title?

I knew I had to include the Midwest because it is so important to my project. It influences the music, my fashion, my lyrics, the energy that surrounds them – and I don’t want to lose that part of me. When I was younger I thought I really did it, but now
I do not anymore.

What were some of your early musical influences growing up in Missouri?

I pretty much only grew up listening to Christian rock. And then in high school I downloaded Pandora and sat in my bathroom listening to Drake. I got really interested in hip-hop because it was a whole new world that I had never encountered before. The song that made me want to write music was “Stay” by Rihanna. I thought, “I want to make songs like that.” And then it wasn’t until I was 21 or 22 that I started making music that I liked.

How come?

I started writing when I was 15 and literally got a contract when I was 17. It happened so quickly and I just wasn’t ready. It’s such a cliché, but one weekend I was playing coffee shops and the next weekend I got signed to Atlantic Records. It was very unhinged and really scary and no one knew what was going on. I hated all that music, which is so strange because when I look back, why would I release something I don’t like? I just really didn’t know what I was doing and I didn’t feel like it
I had a lot of help.

When did it click that you were finally making music you could be proud of?

Honestly, it was the “Pink Pony Club” music video – the leather daddies lifted me in the air and I spun, and you can’t see it in the video, but I had tears in my eyes because that’s what I wanted. I’ve always wanted to feel.

You’ve said that with this album you’re “fearlessly embracing queerness.” What does that mean for you?

I love the queer community. When queer people are together it is the happiest and most vibrant feeling. Local drag queens open for me in every city [on the upcoming tour], and we have 34 shows. We receive a percentage of every ticket that goes to For the Gworls, a Black trans charity based in New York. For me, the shows are a way to offer queer people a safe space to have fun and dress up, because each show has a theme. It feels like magic on stage. I literally get tears in my eyes because it’s everything I’ve ever wanted.

Things You Didn’t Know About Chappell Roan
Odd jobs: Roan was a nanny and production assistant on an HBO show and worked at an emo music-themed donut shop and a drive-thru coffee kiosk.
Family ties: Her grandparents make a cameo appearance in the music video for “Hot to Go”. Chappell Roan on debut album “The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess”

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