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Discover the Sincerity of Chappell Roan

The young singer has captivated listeners with her dark lyrics coupled with haunting vocals

The 19-year-old singer speaks with a deliberate delicacy to her words, almost as if every syllable has been carefully selected with the utmost tenderness. Chappell Roan, the fresh-faced Missouri crooner, released her debut EP, School Nights, this year to rave reviews. With heart wrenching lyrics delivered with such a hauntingly charismatic vocal, Roan cast a somber net across her fans and hasn’t let go.

“I didn’t love myself the way I was supposed to love myself,” the young singer says of her second single “Die Young.” She tells me that the five-track EP is just a snippet of the whole, larger story, that’s soon to come. “I know it seems jumbled right now and the songs don’t flow right, but eventually it will all make sense,” she assures me. But, she doesn’t need to assure anyone. Roan’s music soars through listeners and nearly breaks them down right before they realize that her voice is exactly what they needed. “Sometimes it helps people realize how sad they really are or how hard of a time they’re going through. Music can reveal the emotions that you may have been pressing down,” Roan tells me, referencing her dark stories.

Photography by Catie Laffoon

“I know it’s dark, but it’s because it was dark times when I was writing.” Roan has received such support from her listeners regarding her powerful messages but there was one in particular that really affected her. “It made me realize how much power is in music and it scared me. Someone told me that “Die Young” helped them not end their life,” she says quietly. We remain quiet for a moment longer as she collects her thoughts and I collect mine. She breaks the silence by saying, “There are both sides of the spectrum though. Some people think it’s too dark for them to even listen to, and I understand that. I don’t want to always listen to sad songs, sometimes I want to listen to “Firework” by Katy Perry!”

Despite this brooding young singer’s heavy messages, her voice has resonated with audiences across the nation. Roan spent a month on tour supporting her label-mate Vance Joy this past fall. “I’m exhausted. I’m kind of still recovering. I had never performed in front of more than 300 people and these were like, 1,700 set venues,” she tells me. Even as she talks about her first touring experience, a few weeks after the fact, I can tell she’s getting worked up. “I was so nervous,” she admits. “Plus, these people didn’t come to see me, they came for him!” Her honesty and bit of self-deprecation is endearing but with her second tour already scheduled to start January 2018, I can’t help but think Roan is her biggest critic. She will be joining British singer Declan McKenna on his North American tour starting in Austin, Texas in the New Year. “It’s a two-month long tour so I’m a little scared but super excited,” she says all in one breath. In the New Year, Roan will also release new music and a new music video for “Die Young.”