Fairytales often start with once upon a time. The familiar leading line is followed with a woven tale that includes a princess smothered by unreasonable expectations, a curse that can only be broken by true loves kiss, and a charming Prince who ultimately saves the day.
However, for Midwest Princess Chappell Roan, her fairytale has been dramatically different.
Chappell grew up in the small Midwestern town of Willard, Missouri.
“I was just so scared to be myself because I felt so restricted where I was from with the religious aspect, with the gender roles aspect, with the really, really small queer community that was not amplified. I didn’t know a single gay girl in my school,” she revealed in a press conference with 1824.
It wasn’t until a magical night at The Abbey, an LA gay bar, that the societal spell was broken, and she realized that there was a reality that allowed her to be unapologetically herself. A dormant yet fierce fiery urge to defy social norms and her religious upbringing was ignited.
Chappell explores this discovered reality on her debut album The Rise & Fall of a Midwest Princess, released via Island Records. The LP is a courageous, semi-autobiographical statement about the origin story of a queer pop femininomenon.
Similar to her previous releases, this project is an exaggerated reflection of her own experiences, expressed with honesty and boldness.
“The stories are definitely embellished just because it’s just more fun to write a song that is more cohesive and interesting … For “Casual,” I didn’t know anyone’s mom in Long Beach, or I’ve never had car sex. I have no idea what I’m talking about, like, no idea.”
Chappell isn’t afraid to embody the characters that do understand, whether it’s Playboy Bunnies, aliens (spoiler alert), clowns, or sapphic magicians.
Chappell takes on the role of cheerleader for her single “Hot To Go” and the accompanying music video. “Come over with the spirit of cheerleading” and inspired by the 80s hit “Hey Mickey” by Toni Basi, Chappell created a synth-pop anthem that will make you want to dance.
“We wrote it with the dance in mind,” she says, “ I posted a video the other day of me writing it, and I’m literally dancing at the same time.”
Chappell’s creative vision extends from music to choreography and into film.
For her single, “Casual,” she served as creative director for the accompanying cinematic short, which depicts a heartbreaking sapphic love story between a noncommittal, emotionally distant siren and a girl who fell under her spell.
“I picked a siren just simply because. There is the fairytale behind a woman luring men to their death, like a beautiful mermaid girl. We never depict what a siren would do with another woman,” Chappell explained of the concept, “There’s many layers, but I fell in love with the siren, but obviously that’s not what she wanted for me. It was just something casual for her, and I wanted her to move in with me. She is for the ocean and not to be in love; sirens lure their desire. I just wanted to explore the queer relationship of that.”
Fans will get to see this creative vision brought into a new realm with Chappell’s upcoming The Midwest Princess Tour.
Each night, fans are invited to dress up according to a different theme, like Slumber Party or Angels and Devils, which Chappell revealed was the theme she is most excited about. “I have these massive, massive angel wings behind me. I’m really excited to wear that one. It’s just like really cute.”
For Chappell, it’s more than just an excuse to dress up, but an opportunity to create a safe space for self-expression. “There’s so many places in the country that there’s only one day they really get to wear rainbow…or even kink like for “My Kink is Karma,” I encourage people to just wear what makes you feel hot. Wear what makes you feel sexy, something that is not appropriate to wear anywhere else. The themes are an opportunity for everyone to dress up, and the show is not only on stage, it’s also in line at the merch table and next to you, front row … I love it so much. It’s super cool to take something that, on surface level, is not serious…it has that deeper undercurrent of just wanting people to feel comfortable and safe and fun at your shows. It’s such a cool community to try and kinder.”
As much as the show is for her fans, it is also for the 13-year-old, closeted Midwest Princess who was once smothered by those unreasonable societal expectations. Now Chappell is finally living her own version of happily ever after by “allowing that version of myself to be seen and honored,” proving that the antidote for breaking “the curse” is embracing yourself for exactly who you are.
Don’t miss Chappell Roan on The Midwest Princess Tour, and next year on Olivia Rodrigo’s Guts World Tour. Tickets here!
Featured Photo Credit: Ryan Clemens