Chappell Roan

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Chappell Roan, 20, lives the classic tale of a young girl from a small town with big dreams of pursuing her passion for music. Her sultry, dark voice is unique and mixes with heavy backtracks for the perfect gloom pop sound, reminiscent of artists like Lana Del Rey and Lorde. From Willard, Missouri, Roan was merely 16 and a junior in high school when she was discovered and signed to Atlantic Records. She said she was excited and grateful knowing she was about to start her dream career, but she really didn’t know where to start. “I come from a very small town where no one else has been signed before, so I didn’t know how to talk about it. It was all such a whirlwind,” she said.


Roan started playing piano when she was eleven years old and singing when she was just thirteen years old. She knew she wanted to write music when she heard the song “Stay” by Rihanna and Mikky Ekko. “I was thinking, I want to write a song like this,” she said. While Roan is influenced by more contemporary artists such as London Grammar, Beach House, Childish Gambino, and Vince Staples, she also draws from Fleetwood Mac as well as decades like the sixties and seventies. “I love the drum patterns and vocal layering and how they weren't recorded digitally adds such an element of magic,” she explained.


Apart from music, Roan finds inspiration from films— costume design and aesthetic in particular. There can be a certain quality of how a costume looks that will make her feel a certain way, for example, maybe something more feminine or dark or sweet. The artist doesn’t only draw inspiration from herself, but from her peers as well. She will sometimes pull words or phrases from deep conversations and use them in her songs. 



Roan released her first EP, School Nights, in September of last year, and it features five tracks which linger on the emotions that many feel in their adolescence. Amongst the five, the hardest song for her to write was “Meantime,” which is about not completely knowing where you stand in a relationship, or life in general, but knowing that you will still love that person in the meantime. “I was going through such a confusing stage in a relationship I was in, where I know I wanted to be with that person, but I couldn’t fully devote myself because I didn’t know who I was,” she admitted. Recording some of these songs were hard for Roan, as they brought back old feelings she hadn’t felt for so long. It was painful for her to dig them back out but revealed a lot about herself. 


Another notable track from the EP is “Die Young,” which Roan made a music video for and released earlier this year. The music video features Roan singing near a river and eventually submerging herself into the water. This concept of being underwater is something Roan is very familiar with, and one that resonates with her. “The feeling of being underwater is suffocating to me but freeing at the same time— which is how I was feeling when I wrote the song. I was having a very hard time making friends, problems with my parents, and not loving myself,” she revealed. With the release of this EP, Roan really wants her listeners to connect emotionally with the songs. She wants people to open their mind to feeling things that maybe they have been pushing down or bottling up because they’re scared to feel them. 


Roan is touring with Declan Mckenna across the country this month, marking her second tour. She admits that she does have a bit of stage fright, but only when she’s talking to a crowd. From the small town of Willard, Roan loves to visit new towns on tour and seeing all the characteristics each one holds. “I get amazed seeing mountains and the ocean and tall buildings— I’m still not used to seeing all of that,” the young artist said. Having performed in front of crowds before, she really wants to improve by moving around on stage more and connecting with the crowd this time around.


Follow Chappell Roan: Instagram / Twitter / Facebook



Photos by Myrah Sarwar.

Words by Caitlin Ison.



Q&A: Alex Aiono

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February 1, 2018
El Rey Theatre // Los Angeles, CA


Congrats on releasing "Thinking About You," your new single! What was it like recording that? How do you think it's the same or different from your previous material?

AA: Thank you so much! Every time I drop a brand new song it feels like Christmas! I always want to be honest and talk about how I feel in my music. "Thinking About You" is about really missing someone and allowing yourself to be vulnerable, which is something new for me.


You've said in past interviews that you're inspired by 80s/90s music and old school R&B and hip-hop. Could you elaborate more on how that came about? Any specific artists that stand out to you in terms of influence?

AA: I think that because I was born in the 90’s, I naturally drifted that way. Growing up, my parents always played 80s and 90s R&B and soul music, and we'd always dance around the house listening to "This Is How We Do It" by Montell Jordan! I love how recently Bruno Mars has tapped into that vibe and is bringing that sound back!


What was it like moving to Los Angeles at such a young age?

AA: When I moved to Los Angeles back when I was 14, I really was just a kid with a dream. It’s been a long but incredible road since. I have to give a big shout out to my family for being so supportive and sacrificing so much to 14-year-old me.


How has your sense of music or perspective on it changed since you first discovered it at an early age?

AA: I’m much more open to listening to more genres of music now. That, plus the experiences I’ve had so far, have really influenced my writing to dig deeper into what I’m feeling.




How was your first headlining tour? Has it been any different from previous tours you've been on?

AA: This tour was one of the most gratifying experiences for me in my career so far. Having the opportunity to go out to crowds every single night is so special. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved all the tours that I’ve been on before, but nothing will ever beat having your own shows sell out and having a whole crowd that’s there for you. That’s a whole different level!


What kind of music do you listen to on tour? Is there a specific artist or genre that gets you pumped up for shows?

AA: It’s funny that you ask that, because the music I listen to on tour is so much different from what I listen to back home. The shows every night are so hype that when I get on the bus afterwards I just wanna chill out. Lots of singer-songwriter, neo soul vocals and piano stuff.


Do you have any specific rituals or routines you have to do before going on stage?

AA: Nothing too mind blowing! I really like to relax and get my mind into the right place to go out and perform the best show possible. After my vocal exercises and prayer, I have a couple secret handshakes. Then it’s showtime!



What can fans expect from one of your shows?

AA: Energy. Energy, energy, energy! Seriously, every single night that we go out on stage I feel like it’s a battle between me and the crowd to see who can give more energy to the show!


Even though you've performed live before, YouTube is your main outlet for music. How is it different when you can record over and over again, versus performing live?

AA: When you’re singing live you don’t get to stop, and I actually love that challenge. You don’t get to say, "Let’s do it 10 times and choose the best take." You only have one shot, and that makes it special. I think that’s why the fans keep coming out to the shows!


Have you been playing any new material? If so, how has the reaction been?

AA: I definitely have some unreleased songs in my set list. And based on the reaction I’ve gotten, I want to release them so bad!


Since your fan base started off YouTube, how has it been meeting them in person during VIP?

AA: Oh man, that’s a whole different feeling! It’s surreal that I get to go out and meet the fans every single night who have watched my videos, and getting to hear what their favorite moments of the journey have been so far. The fans make all the hard work worth it!




Which shows stood out the most to you?

AA: Seriously every show on the Feels Like Tour was incredible. Each night went hard, and every single fan that came to the show gave me their everything. That means the world to me.


Have you been doing some sight seeing?

AA: I’ve been working a ton recently, so every opportunity that I have off I try to catch some sleep! A lot of the only sight seeing I’ve done recently is the back of my eyelids, haha!


How are you feeling about traveling to Australia  and New Zealand?

AA: If you know me, you know that I love traveling more than anything. So getting to go out Australia and New Zealand and the Philippines has been so much fun! Plus New Zealand has a very special place in my heart, because that is where my dad is from and where my culture is from, so it’s always great to go back!


Follow Alex: Twitter / Instagram / YouTube


Photos by Myrah Sarwar.
Interview by Caitlin Ison.


Walk The Moon - Hollywood Palladium

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Walk The Moon
Press Restart Tour

February 9, 2018
Hollywood Palladium // Los Angeles, CA



Photos by Myrah Sarwar.


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K.Flay - The Observatory

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K. Flay
January 11, 2018
The Observatory // Santa Ana, CA


Singer and songwriter, K.Flay, opened her “Every Where Is Some Where” tour last week at The Observatory in Orange County. People would describe K.Flay’s music as a mix of indie rock and hip-hop, touring throughout the years with Imagine Dragons, Dashboard Confessional and more. With all of this hard work, there's no question that she is nominated for this year’s Grammys for Best Rock Song and Best Engineered Album, Non Classical. Catch her on tour with the support of Orange County natives, Sir Sly, from now until February!



Coverage by Talia Azadian.


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Sir Sly:






K.Flay:



     


Circa Survive - The Fillmore Miami Beach

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Circa Survive
November 11, 2017
The Fillmore // Miami Beach, FL


Photos by Alex Liscio.


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Balance and Composure: 



     



CHON:



     




Thrice:






Circa Survive:



     




Fall 2017: VÉRITÉ

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On a hot day nearing the end of summer in Los Angeles, VÉRITÉ is across the country from her home in New York City and ready to begin a headlining tour that promotes her debut album, Somewhere In Between. After a full run through of the album, you’ll find that her music is the embodiment of both the calm before the storm and the chaos during it. She meshes together elements of serenity and havoc in a way that speaks heavily to the soul.


The intensity of the human condition and existence serve as the backbone of inspiration for her this new album, and VÉRITÉ explains that the process of creating the album was also a very intense one. It was written mostly in fragments in the span of a year during short breaks she had in between tours, leaving her with the task of “putting the pieces of the puzzle together,” as she explains. “It seemed very crazy and scattered, but in the end I was able to reel everything in.” 


"At the end of the day, I get to do what I want, when I want to, and control what I put out."



Being an independent artist though, finishing the album was only one aspect of the challenges that she had to overcome. “You always have creative challenges,” she admits. “Sometimes you get a feeling that you’re competing with these giant corporations.” And while those setbacks may seem overbearing at times, she sheds some light on the pros of being an independent artist. Owning the music she’s produced and not having to answer to anyone gives her the drive to put a realistic perspective on dealing with situations. “Regardless of whether you’re independent or with a major label, you always have challenges,” she explains. “But at the end of the day, I get to do what I want, when I want to, and control what I put out.”





The growth that VÉRITÉ had accumulated from the years of experience she has had in the music industry greatly shows in her work as well as attitude toward the industry. For her, the growth since the release of her EP Echo three years ago has been absolutely immense. “I would rewrite and reproduce all of my EPs,” she says with a laugh. “Ideally, everything since then has just been an elevation.”


Going into the headlining tour promoting Somewhere In Between, she tells me that the album “translates a little harder live. It’s more intense and more dynamic, which is a good thing.” Her personal favorite song off of the album at the moment,“Death of Me,” is a perfect analogy for the mindset of the tour. Initially written as a tapline for an EDM artist, she decided to take it as her own and rework the production, transforming it into something more organic, while still keeping a few of the song’s original dynamics. Delving deeper into the song, she leads us back to the theme of the human condition and existence. “There seems be a two person narrative within the lyrics but really, it’s just about how I fucked myself over,” she explains. 


Although she told me that she’s currently in the beginning stages of writing a second album, VÉRITÉ’s focus at the moment is on getting Somewhere In Between out as much as possible as well as connecting with her fans. “It’s definitely a unique experience to have the album exist in the world,” she says. “It’s also been really nice playing for my own fans and having those interactions.” 


Follow VÉRITÉ: Instagram / Twitter / Facebook


Coverage by Sam Hsu.

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