by MIKE CHAIKEN
If Chappell Roan followed the career template of her relatives, she would be working with cats and dogs rather than guitars and microphones.
The pop singer is making news in the music world. But her interest in singing and songwriting is an anomaly in her family.
Her mother is a veterinarian. Her father runs the family practice.
So the desire for a life of being a musician was sparked from outside of her family unit.
Roan, who attracted attention with the songs “Die Young” and “Good Hurt,” as well as their accompanying music videos, is coming to the Space Ballroom in Hamden on Sunday.
“I always liked to watch the Grammys growing up,” said Roan, in a phone call from Atlanta, Ga., as she made her way across the country for her tour.
Music, however, was not necessarily first on her career agenda, said the singer.
Roan said, “I thought it would be cool to be an actor and I did theater in high school.”
Although, she said, “I was more into writing and poetry… I just enjoyed writing exercise.”
That love for words set the stage for Roan’s love for writing song lyrics.
“I kind of write about what’s going on in my head,” said Roan.
And what inspires those thoughts in her head can come from many different directions, said Roan. “Movies inspire me,” she said. “Costume design can inspire me,” said Roan, noting Victorian-era clothing often captures her attention and music. Conversations also can inspire her songwriting, she said.
“Weird things can inspire me,” said Roan, “Whatever’s around me… It’s all very genuine.”
When Roan discovered her love for music, she said Stevie Nicks and Karen Carpenter were her favorite singers.
“When I was 12 or 13, I tried to mimic their voices,” said Roan.
Later, Roan discovered Lana Del Ray—who she is often compared to vocally. Roan said when she heard Del Ray, she heard someone whose vocal qualities were similar to her own. She then began to craft a vocal alchemy of Del Ray, Nicks, and Carpenter.
When she heard Lorde for the first time, Roan said she heard a kindred spirit. Again, there were similarities between her voice and Lorde’s. Also Lorde is about the same age as Roan.
Roan said she began to incorporate a little bit of Lorde into her own sound.
Roan, 19, was signed to Atlantic Records when she had just turned 17 and was still a junior in high school.
“It was so weird,” said Roan about being signed to a major record label while at such an age. “I wasn’t sure 100 percent of what a record label was.”
“I don’t think the kids at school were 100 percent supportive (of her sudden success),” said Roan, “but my family was.”
Roan didn’t actively seek signing with a label. Like many new artists today, Roan found her path to success was paved on social media.
“I would post stuff on YouTube,” said Roan.
Pop star Troye Sivan ultimately played a key role in getting Roan noticed by the label.
Roan said the singer came across her YouTube videos and started to promote her and offered support.
“He helped me out a lot,” said Roan.
And now to be signed and releasing music, Roan said, “I’m so grateful.”
When Roan comes to Connecticut, she will be touring behind her latest EP, “School Nights.”
Typically, EPs—especially for new artists—are used as an introduction of what is yet to come music-wise.
“I thought (the songs on ‘School Nights’) were a good five songs to give away just enough. I don’t want to give away the whole store. I wanted to save it for the album.”
For Roan, touring has its perks.
“Some of the cities I never have been to. It’s cool to go to new places and meet new people,” said Roan. She also gets to try new regional delicacies as she moves place to place. “It’s opening me up to other cultures,” said Roan.
She’s also learning that “every audience is different.”
But there are challenges of touring for Roan, who is touring with a full band this time.
Topping the list of challenges for Roan is getting enough shut-eye. “It’s so hard to sleep (on the road),” said Roan. “You’re just traveling every single day,” said Roan, who already had been traveling for four hours the day before her interview. “You’re always changing time zones. You never know what day it is.”
As for what’s happening beyond the current tour with singer Declan McKenna, Roan just released her new single, “Bitter.” There will be a couple of other singles on the way as well as a new video.
And then a new album is on the way, she said.
Chappell Roan opens for Declan McKenna at the Space Ballroom, 295 Treadwell St., Hamden on Sunday, Feb. 18. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The show begins 7:30 p.m. The show is sold out.