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A Conversation with Chappell Roan: The Midwest Princess in Austin

By Livia Blackburn and Molly Furman

Chappell Roan’s November 1st Austin tour date truly embodied her fun, over-the-top persona with non-stop dancing, thematic outfits, and colorful lighting. Touring on her debut album, The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess, Roan performed the record in full, exploring ideas of heartbreak, partying, and pleasure. The night’s theme– slumber party– saw fans in lingerie, slip dresses, and hair rollers, expanding on the tour’s overall embrace of kitschiness and camp.

To open the show, local drag queen Moxie hosted performances by Amber Nicole Davenport and Eileen Dover. Dancing to pop hits from Charli XCX and Katy Perry, the queens established a playful and extravagant tone for the night. Their performances made for an ideal counterpart to Roan’s, as her pop-girl persona draws heavily from drag makeup, clothing, and performance.

Roan came on stage with a pre-recorded intro saying, “Don’t call me Kayleigh… You only get to call me one thing– I am The Midwest Princess,” before transitioning into “Femininomenon” an upbeat track about connection in modern dating.

Midway through the show, Roan spoke about antiquated first-date rules from women's lifestyle magazines, like avoiding red lipstick and revealing clothes on the first date. “But well, you know what they say / never waste a Friday night on a first date,” she said, transitioning into “Super Graphic Ultra Modern Girl,” a track about her appreciation for glamorous women.

Towards the end of the show, Roan spoke about the bittersweet feeling of releasing the album, reflecting on its world-wide reach. “I’m so grateful for these concerts because they allow people to dress however they want and bring whoever they want to bring,” Roan said. This sentiment tied into her next song, a performance of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” a celebration of acceptance and community.

Lastly, Roan closed this rodeo with her breakthrough hit, “Pink Pony Club,” leaving the night with a celebration of queer excitement and love.

The next day, Austin Underground spoke with Roan about the project and her life on tour.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Austin Underground: You've been on tour for a little bit now, what's your favorite memory of being on tour? Have you eaten any fun food or seen anything that's inspired you?

Chappell Roan: I love tour. I'm having a great time. I loved trying crab in Florida, and strangely amazing hummus in Detroit. It's difficult to balance work outside of touring– that's what I'm struggling the most with, but I try different foods every day. I cherish my days off because I'm so tired all the time, but I love to see local drag shows. I'll go out to drag bars and just watch and take notes. That is super inspiring to me. I love drag.

Austin Underground: We love drag, that's super fun! Next, we wanted to check in about your style evolution. Austin Underground interviewed you in 2018 towards the beginning of your career, so we were wondering how you feel that your style has developed since then?

Chappell Roan: The whole thing has really taken such a wild turn. I didn't really think that I would be going this far at that time. Obviously I had just written Pink Pony Club, or maybe not even yet when I talked to you– I may have not even written it.

Austin Underground: I think it was before.

Chappell Roan: Yeah, so it took a pretty hard turn. I think it just evolved with my happiness, and as I've gotten happier, I think the music has too. My style is just inspired by what my inner child would think is pretty and what I dreamed of wearing whenever I played dress up with my sister. I love fashion and DIY and glitter and gems– I just think I started to have more fun in my life and that is reflected within the project.

Austin Underground: That's super cool! On a related note, we wanted to ask about your live performance– it’s so physical, especially with “Hot To Go” having crowd interaction and a dance number. I was wondering if dance has always been something you've prioritized, or something that you've wanted to incorporate?

Chappell Roan: I have always been so bad at dancing. Like genuinely, I can't follow choreography and that's what I had told myself my entire life. Then we did the “Pink Pony Club” music video, I was like, “Wait, this is so freeing and so fun– I don't give a fuck if I look stupid.” So that really influenced the work. I thought, “The songs have to be danceable. I want to move to them. I want to twirl and I want the audience to move with me.” So I'm definitely not professionally trained. I don't actually know what I'm doing, but I have a lot of fun every night just twirling around and jumping. My body just kind of moves, and I don't really care if it looks good.

Austin Underground: Well, it was so much fun doing the hot to go dance last night– you looked amazing! We know that you're going to be opening for Olivia Rodrigo soon, that's awesome! So we wanted to ask, if you could perform with any artist from any point in time– dead or alive– who are you going with?

Chappell Roan: Probably Freddie Mercury.

Austin Underground: That's a great answer. I love that. Lastly, if you weren't making music full time, you had planned on pursuing art therapy. Do you think that your music now serves as a form of therapy for the queer community or for your fans? Is that a connection that you try to make?

Chappell Roan: I think that I do that within the live shows. I think that I try to give people the opportunity to express themselves in a safe way where other people feel safe to do so, and I think that if it's therapeutic, that's amazing. I want it to be helpful in whatever way it can be. But yeah, I guess it's kind of art therapy!


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