Not many of us would willingly dive back into the brains of our 16-year-old selves, but that's exactly what artist Chappell Roan had to do for her song "Die Young." The 19-year-old is older now, and has her first EP "School Nights" under her belt, as well as a debut concert tour alongside Vance Joy. It's easy to say that all of this happened so fast for Roan, but in reality, this is a dream she's been working towards since she was just 12 years old, chasing her gift for music and lyrics through lessons in grade school all the way until she was ready to strike out on her own.
Now, she's premiering the music video for "Die Young" right here on Refinery29, and talking to us about her journey towards this important moment in her career.
How did you get started in music?
"I started by playing piano when I was ten or eleven, and then I started singing and songwriting when I was fourteen and fifteen. No one else in my family is musical, so it's not like I was inspired by them. I didn't grow up in a musical family. It just kind of came naturally to me I guess."
Who are the artists who made you decide to become a musician?
"My first CD I ever got was Pink. I was in kindergarten. And I just thought she was so cool and just so confident and amazing. That kind of sparked something. What got me writing was the song "Stay" by Rihanna. It's just a simple piano ballad and I couldn't believe that so much emotion was in such a simple song."
How would you describe your style as an artist?
"I would say genuine. I always write from exactly what I'm feeling and whatever that may be. Sometimes that can be dark and sad and sometimes that can be happy. It's also just stylistically dark pop with ballad undertones."
What was your inspiration for this video?
"I wanted it to be very simple. It was hard to go back to the place and really feel the emotions of the song because I wrote it when I was 16. It's been a few years now, so going back into that mindset and doing the video was really hard. But the whole concept of water, of going under water, has always been there for me. That's how I was feeling. I couldn't breathe."
Was it weird to go back and look at a song you wrote when you were 16?
"Looking back on older songs that are not the most positive songs, it's bittersweet. It shows me how far I've come as a person, but every time I sing it or listen to it, it's reliving the nightmare. It's like a little time capsule. You can't really get rid of it. But I'm always grateful for releasing those emotions."
What’s next for you?
"2018 is going to be the busiest year yet. I just got confirmed for a tour with Declan McKenna, and definitely new music."
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.