Interview: Chappell Roan Wants People Who Don't Get Camp to 'Shut Up'

Chappell Roan's debut album, "The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess," is out now.

By: Sep. 27, 2023
Interview: Chappell Roan Wants People Who Don't Get Camp to 'Shut Up'

If you don’t understand camp, you’re not invited to Chappell Roan’s party. 

The 25-year-old pop princess recently released her debut album, "The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess," chronicling her cinematic journey of falling in queer love for the first time, while embracing all the messy and imperfect moments in-between.

Ahead of opening for Olivia Rodrigo on her GUTS World Tour, Roan is headlining her own worldwide tour, which kicked off Monday in Roseville, CA. Each stop will feature local drag queens as the opening act.

BroadwayWorld caught up with Chappell Roan to discuss the four year journey to create her album, what music is hardest for her to release, Miley Cyrus' foam finger, and more. 

Starting off, how are you feeling now that the album is out? It was four years in the making, this must be so exciting for you.

I feel at peace, honestly. I have been waiting for this for a long time. I feel very ready for everything that's happening right now. I do not feel overwhelmed anymore. I have been really struggling this year. I was feeling overwhelmed just because of so many unknowns. But now I just, I feel so at peace. I'm just like, in gratitude mode. So that's what this feels like right now.

Did it definitely feel like kind of a release? Obviously you were releasing the album, but for you personally, it was kind of just like, "Okay, this is out there now."

Yeah. I was over it. I was over promo. Not over the album, but promo is very difficult for me. Like, the posting, the promoting on Instagram and TikTok is super difficult for me because I don't feel like it's what I was put on this earth to do. So it's really heartbreaking for me whenever I have to do it for a long period of time. Obviously this whole year was promo but now I'm so much happier because I'm on tour and I love performing.

We're going to get to the tour later but on the album, even going back to "Pink Pony Club" being released in 2020. What was it like finally giving some of these songs a home?

I think it came together really naturally. I had a lot of songs that I wrote in between all of the ones that are out now that just didn't feel like part of the story. Like this collection of songs, obviously kind of kicks it off. It feels good because it's like kind of closing a chapter on that version of myself. This album is very much exploration of like "Am I queer? What is this feeling with girls?" I feel like okay, I'm closing that chapter now and we can talk about a different story.

Since that chapter is closed, do you think you'll ever release those songs that you had been working on that didn't make it to the album?

For sure. Yeah. They just didn't work.

You do such a good job at creating this world. I know people call it the "Chappell Roan Cinematic Universe," which is so much fun. Did you act when you were younger? That is sort of what comes to mind when I see like so many of these visions.

I mean, a little bit, but I'm playing the character of myself, so it's really not hard.

How did you build up that character then?

It had to do with inner child work. Delving into the version of myself I never allowed myself to be, which is like this sparkly, tacky, loud, obnoxious version. It's pretty much the opposite of what I was taught to be. I think once I was in therapy and kind of talking about inner child and how I felt like this little girl trapped inside me that never got to express herself the way she dreamed of, that just kind of unfolded into this project.

I mean more so like the fashion and the dancing and like the singing, obviously not so much the content. I'd say like inner child work and it's just been building off of that. Every day, I unfold a new version. I just explore the world even more like every show, it makes more and more sense.

So you would say that you're still learning stuff about this character?

Yeah, because it's like, I'm just trying to balance both me as Kayleigh and Chappell. I am learning how to kind of compartmentalize it. So, yeah, it's just difficult sometimes because it's so emotional. Obviously the emotions come from me as a human and not as a character.

Was there any ever like pause about including those personal issues in your music?

No, that wasn't the difficult part for me. It was like "Hot to Go" and "Femininomenon", those type of songs were more difficult for me to put out. There was more pressure because of how hateful people are. Some people just don't get the joke and don't have fun with music.

They don't get the camp of it all, that it's supposed to be silly, and it's not necessarily supposed to feel like serious music, you know? I think my songs are well written, for sure, but like, literally the amount of comments that are like, "This is Cocomelon! This is Cocomelon!" I was like, bitch, shut up! You are not even invited to the party."

I mean, it is just like incredibly well-crafted pop music. I love that you say that because not every lyric has to be so deep. We can have fun.

No, yeah. Just stop being lame. It's honestly just those people who don't get camp. They don't even know what that word means, so I'm not really that worried about it.

Speaking of camp, I know that artists like Miley Cyrus and Gaga are some of your influences. I love a new artist that was brought up on the same singers that I was. How did those type of artists influence this album?

For sure. I mean, Miley Cyrus sacrificed herself for us all with the foam finger. 2013, that was a crazy fing year. That was when I was 15 and so that was like very, very instrumental to my knowledge of pop culture. I was just like, "Holy s, what is going on?"

I think what inspires me the most is like, obviously, yes the pop-ness of it all about the music. But I think that's the most inspiring of those two artists is the audacity that they have. They always have the audacity to show up in a meat dress, the audacity to be sexy and have a foam finger, the audacity to perform the way they do is just like what's inspiring to me. It's very feminist. It's just super empowering. I think that's what I love about them.

So you would say that that was sort of was like an awakening for you growing up?

For sure. Whether I liked to admit it or not at the time. That was very much like a part of me that really wanted to do that, but I wouldn't allow myself.

From a lot of your music too, it sounds like you were sort of like running away from your hometown. I know that you recently had a hometown release show. What was it  going back now that you are this pop princess?

Interview: Chappell Roan Wants People Who Don't Get Camp to 'Shut Up' It changed my perspective completely because I realized that at my shows, there's so many gay people that I didn't know they were there. Because, unfortunately, where I'm from, you can't outwardly be gay without criticism and feeling unsafe. At my show, it was like the opposite. It gave me a new perspective on my hometown that there are people just like me that really need this.

That's why I'm, like, so focused on hitting midwestern markets that a lot of people don't hit. There are so many queer teens and young people that really need this because I know I did.

And hitting those markets, you are having drag artists open for you. Was that part of the decision to have include them in the tour?

I got the idea of drag queens from Orville Peck at his show in like 2018 or something at the Troubadour in West Hollywood. I was just like, "Oh my God, I have to do that." It's like also a way to engage the local queer community and pay the local queer community and kind of get the word out. Like, "Hey, there are drag queens in every city, whether you know that there are or not." So I think that was, like, a way for me to engage locals. 

Looking forward to the rest of the tour, what are you most looking forward to?

I'm just looking forward to the performances. I have such a great time on stage and I'm looking forward to like doing my makeup and meeting all the drag queens and seeing people in the crowd and what they're wearing. It's just so fun because every show is themed and everyone dresses up and it's so fun to look out into the audience and see everyone's outfit.

Listen to Chappell Roan's "The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess" album here:

Photo: Ryan Clemens


Hot Mulligan Announce 2024 Headline Tour With Special Guests Photo
Hot Mulligan Announce 2024 Headline Tour With Special Guests

Hot Mulligan announces their 2024 Spring Headline Tour with special guests Free Throw, Just Friends, and Charmer. They will support Fall Out Boy on the So Much For (2our) Dust tour, with Jimmy Eat World and Games We Play performing at iconic arenas like Madison Square Garden. Check out the full list of tour dates!

Rocky Kramers Rock & Roll Tuesdays to Present CHRISTMAS SPECIAL On Twitch Photo
Rocky Kramer's Rock & Roll Tuesdays to Present CHRISTMAS SPECIAL On Twitch

Rocky Kramer presents a special Christmas episode on Rocky Kramer's Rock & Roll Tuesdays. Don't miss it!

R&B Love Fest 2024 is Heading To UBS Arena On Mothers Day Photo
R&B Love Fest 2024 is Heading To UBS Arena On Mother's Day

Celebrate Mother's Day 2024 with R&B Love Fest at UBS Arena featuring Charlie Wilson, KEM, and Dru Hill.

Nicki Minaj Announces Pink Friday 2 Tour Dates Photo
Nicki Minaj Announces 'Pink Friday 2' Tour Dates

Nicki Minaj has announced tour dates in support of her new 'Pink Friday 2' album. 'Pink Friday 2' is a followup to her 2010 debut album, 'Pink Friday,' and features J. Cole, Lil Wayne, Tate Kobang, Drake, Lourdiz, Lil Uzi Vert, Skillibeng, Skeng, Future, and Tasha Cobbs Leonard. Find out all of the tour dates and how to get tickets here!