Photos by Gina Scarpino
Words by Madeline Shiffer
The lifestyle of many 19-year-old American kids in the midwest can seem pretty self-explanatory to the average eye. But to up and coming indie artist Chappell Roan, her life has been anything but. Since 2015 she’s signed to Atlantic Records, released an EP of original music and took to the road to support Vance Joy on his current North American tour.
“It’s been so good,” she told BTS earlier this month. “And he’s so talented, he’s so great. We’re all backstage together and he’s just so kind to me. And he’s just so lovely to everyone. I’m very lucky that I got to be on a tour with him”.
Roan has been working on music professional since before she had even graduated high school, playing piano being one of her first introductions to creating music.
“I never ended up learning notes or music theory. I would just watch my piano teacher play it and I would memorize where his fingers were, and I would do the same thing.”
The teenage singer-songwriter embodies all that listeners expect from an indie-pop breakout. Her muted style is sophisticated while still giving off a fresh vibe that any rising figure in the entertainment world would want to portray. And that style continues throughout her broader artistic releases. Roan’s debut single “Good Hurt” establishes itself as a complex and eerily enjoyable indie track, layering Roan’s own vocals over and over to mirror an entire wall of sound.
“The vocals on top of it was just kind of,” she began, trailing off to find the right words to attach to her art. “It was too there to not have it in the background vocals.” But this track wasn’t always what Roan had wanted to come from her brand.
“Here’s the thing about ‘Good Hurt’ – I hated it at first,” she says, telling BTS about the track’s subject matter of getting out of toxic relationships but still craving that pain. “That was always the intention, I just wanted something – I was feeling totally opposite on things and felt bad for it. So I wrote a song about it because it helps me to write about how I’m feeling, because then it releases that feeling.“
And as if this song wasn’t enough of a statement on its own, she delivers a full package deal with the accompanying music video. A creepy spa with questionable treatments, live animals and stoic staff members make up the proscenium for the song to stand under. A color scheme of subdued neutrals compiled with the damp texture of a majority of the set gives off a heavy feeling that’s only made more prominent by the slow motion cinematography.
“So first of all, the alligators are not actually in the bathtub with me – split screen,” Roan laughs off as she explains the scene at the end of the video. “But you know, the whole video is about kind of getting good hurt. It’s like a spa, right? And the treatments, the acupuncture, it’s like a treatment to give me that good hurt…and the video made me like the song, because it was so dark and weird. I love it – it’s really beautiful to me.”
Read the rest of our feature with Chappell Roan here.
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