Fans of bold pop hooks, lyrical authenticity, and celebratory good times unite: Chappell Roan is set to bring the bangers to Brisbane’s Melt Festival.
Direct from her sold-out North American tour, Roan will land in Australia to play the Brisbane Powerhouse-based festival in November.
The Missouri native has just released her debut album, ‘The Rise And Fall Of A Midwest Princess’, to strong reviews, including it being heralded as “bold and uproarious” by Pitchfork. Her appearance at Melt will see her perform fan favourites alongside brand-new music.
Melt Festival, back for its eighth edition in 2023, is an annual celebration of queer art, artists, allies and ideas. Alongside music acts, the festival will feature theatre, photography exhibitions, textile art and installations.
It will get underway with an official opening party in the Powerhouse’s main hall platform, including appearances by Nigerian house/dance singer-songwriter Kah-Lo and emerging Wiradjuri and Bundjalung artist Djanaba.
Also appearing at the festival will be UK dance artist Aluna, previously half of AlunaGeorge, electronic producer and songwriter KUČKA, alt-pop collective Alter Boy, Canadian indie-rockers TOPS, and Brisbane’s own Matt Hsu’s Obscure Orchestra, among others.
At 17, Roan (born Kayleigh Rose Amstutz) signed a deal with Atlantic Records after uploading tracks to YouTube and garnering major industry attention, with her early music being described by Interview as a “pop sound infused with a dark and unsettling tone that underscores intense, sombre lyrics”.
Roan’s Brisbane appearance comes eight years after being signed to a major label, but with many career peaks and troughs already behind her, her career has been more colourful than many. Still just 25, she has weathered the emotional storm of being dropped from her record label and moving home to Missouri from Los Angeles to start her career from scratch.
Making the transformation from an introverted midwestern girl growing up on a farm to a glitter-soaked queer icon performing all over the world hasn’t been without its challenges, but in artistic expression Roan found her freedom.
“I grew up on Christian rock,” she told The Line of Best Fit. “And I will say, with my whole chest; it’s the worst music I’ve ever heard. But I was a teenager at an incredible time; Lorde had just dropped ‘Pure Heroine’, Lana had just dropped ‘Paradise’ and ‘Born To Die’, Kesha was in full swing, and Gaga had come out with ‘The Fame Monster’ [...] I was obsessed with it all.”
Image © Ryan Clemens
It was, ultimately, in pop music that Roan found her sweet spot for songwriting. Her 2020 breakout hit, ‘Pink Pony Club’, tells of a strait-laced Tennessee girl who moves to Los Angeles to become a stripper.
“Pop was shining a light on a part of myself that I was trying to dim,” she told DIY. “But it was always deep down inside. I was just scared to be that version of myself – it seemed too big and loud.”
“I think Chappell’s a drag queen version of me because it's very larger-than-life,” she told Vanity Fair. “Kind of tacky, not afraid to say really lewd things. The songs are kind of the fairytale version of what happened in real life. I think that the project has allowed me to be a part of the queer community in a deeper way because I'm not observing from the outside anymore. I feel like I'm in it. I am the queer community – it’s allowed me to just feel queer, feel like a queer person, and feel freedom in that.”
Now comfortable with her sexuality and celebration of glitzy pop, Roan uses her position to support the queer community wherever possible, including booking local drag acts to open for her at every show and encouraging fans to send them tips.
“For me personally, it’s all about giving back and re-distributing money,” she told NME. “Like, a portion of every ticket on my spring tour went to a black trans charity. I told everyone at the show, like, ‘You’re not just coming to have a fun night – you’re here supporting the queer community.'”
As fans here prepare to witness the joy of Roan’s appearance at Melt Festival, one thing to be certain of is the promise of good times and party vibes.
“Like, if I hear Lady Gaga or Nicki Minaj on a playlist, it instantly takes me to this place of ‘Yeah, party!’,” she told NME. “And that’s the place I want to take people to as well. I want to give them that emotion of ‘We’re here, bitch; we’re here and we’re queer’.”
Chappell Roan plays Melt Festival at Brisbane Powerhouse on 25 November. Melt Festival is on from 11-26 November.