An Interview With Singer-Songwriter Roan Yellowthorn

An Interview With Singer-Songwriter Roan Yellowthorn

(Don McLean's daughter), and the new artist you should keep your eyes out for.
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In a small, packed concert venue in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Jackie a.k.a. Roan Yellowthorn sat in front of her keyboard to play her first Manhattan show. The room was filled with love and excitement for Roan’s live performance of her newly released EP "Roan Yellowthorn." Her husband Shawn accompanied her by playing the drums.

Though Roan only started last year you would think that she’s been in the business much longer. Roan was an active member in theatre and clearly inherited her father Don McLean's musical genes. She has created her own unique sound and her music can be described as indie but with each word she sings you can hear all the emotions behind the song. She has found inspiration from poems to even "Teen Mom" couple Catelynn and Tyler.

Roan's performance was beautifully performed and written. After her show, I had the opportunity to sit down with her and talk.


Q. What does your name come from?

Roan: I never really liked my own name. I never felt like it was really mine. I have always kind of been obsessed with the idea of naming myself -- I used to give myself all of these weird, embarrassing nicknames that no one actually ever used for me -- and a few years ago when I was, like, 20, I decided to just sit down and come up with my "own" name. I was on the train, and I thought about it for a long time. I knew that I wanted it to be something nature-based and whimsical. And I settled on "Roan Yellowthorn." It felt right to me. I didn't actually legally change my name to that because it was kind of daunting to think about having to ask people to call me that, but I knew I wanted to use it somehow. Then, when I started making music, I felt again that my name wasn't right. Like, it didn't feel like it was "me." I tried for a while to think of a stage name and then it was just there in front of me -- the perfect opportunity to use Roan Yellowthorn, my chosen name.

Q. How’d you feel to play your first Manhattan performance?

My first performance in Manhattan felt like all of the great feelings surrounding the EP condensed into an hour. There were so many people there who I love -- family and friends and new fans. And it's always so much fun to perform with Shawn. We had a wonderful time and I guess Rockwood, the venue, did too because they asked us to come back and do another show there this summer!

Q. Who are your biggest musical influences?

Roan: Growing up, I listened to a lot of music that I didn't choose. I was at the mercy of my parents. My mom played a lot of classic country, musical theater music, Leonard Cohen, The Rolling Stones, Prince, Bob Dylan, and Jeff Buckley. My dad had about four bands on all the time in heavy rotation -- Beach Boys, Kingston Trio, The Weavers, and Flat & Scruggs. So there's no denying the fact that all of that music influenced me a lot. Then when I discovered the radio, it was like an escape. So music from the '90s definitely influenced me, too.

Q. Have you always been interested in becoming a musician?

Roan: When I was in high school, I thought that being a musician was the cop-out choice for me. I was known for my voice and everyone asked me if I was going to be a singer. I was always like, "No! You don't know me. I'm going to be a vet." Or a writer or a social worker or, you know, any one of the other things that I'm interested in. I had to explore all of the other things out there before I was able to come back to music. I almost felt like I would be failing if I did music because it came really naturally to me. Or maybe I was just worried that I would fail and it would be embarrassing. I thought that I had to choose a career that was difficult and unpleasant, I don't know why.

Q. How would you describe your music to someone who has never listened to it before?

Roan: I don't really know how to describe my music because I can't hear it objectively. I love knowing what other people think it sounds like. I guess it's kind of folky, kind of poppy, definitely singer/songwriter. I guess I'd call it "indie/folk/pop." I don't think that's a genre.

Q. What kind of music do you listen to?

Roan: I listen to a weird mix of music. When I'm in my car and I want to feel cool, alive, and vibrant, I play Basshunter. I just got Aurora's new album and I've been listening to that lately on vinyl. I love her voice. Grimes is one of my all-time favorite artists. Everything about her inspires me. ABBA is another group who I just love completely. There are no bad ABBA songs. And since Taylor Swift partnered up with Max Martin, I can't get enough of her. The Swedes know what they're doing. We listen to a lot of Kurt Vile, too. For chill times, Elliott Smith, Smashing Pumpkins, The Shins (especially Kissing the Lipless), The Smiths and Kishi Bashi, who is amazing. And Robyn rules. And I know every Bright Eyes song, courtesy of Shawn, so I can't leave out Conor Oberst.

Q. What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a music career?

Roan: To someone who wants to pursue a music career, I would say: If it makes you happy, do it. Just do what makes you happy. That's all that matters at the end of the day. And don't worry about what other people think, either way. Do it for you.

Q. "Teen Mom OG" or "2?"

Roan: Um…. I'm "Teen Mom OG" all the way. I'm literally obsessed with "Teen Mom." I love both groups but "OG" has a special place in my heart. One of the first songs I wrote was about Catelynn and Tyler ("Two Children"). Maci, Amber, even Farrah, as messed up as she is. I love them all.

Q. How’d you get into music?

Roan: I've always done music. I did a lot of theater -- I was Dorothy in "Wizard of Oz," Annie in "Annie" (twice), Ariel in "Footloose," Queenie in "Wild Party." And my brother and I played music together all the time. It's always been there. But I didn't start writing songs or playing the piano until last year when I got my first real keyboard from my partner Shawn as a present. I learned how to play it on YouTube and started writing songs pretty much immediately. Getting that piano definitely opened up a new world for me, musically.

Q. What’s the writing process like?

Roan: If I’m feeling it then I just focus on it and a song comes out. It’s the simplest way to put it. I isolate myself with a pencil and paper anywhere from 20 minutes to a week and a song will come out. If I can be by myself I can write a song in two hours.

Q. Are any of the songs inspired by your husband?

Roan: At least two of the songs are inspired by Shawn. "The Last Time" was inspired by a story he told me of an experience he had.

Q. Why do you and your husband still have flip phones?

Roan: I got the flip phone probably about four years ago. I have an addictive personality and I was just being annihilated by my phone. It was a full-fledged obsession. It was really affecting my life and my mood and my level of real-life social activity so I just cut the cord and got a flip phone. It was the best life decision ever. And then, a few months ago, Shawn got one, too. We go on road trips now and can actually get lost. It's awesome. Am I smug about it? A little.

Q. Who would you like to collaborate with in the future?

Roan: I would like to collaborate with Grimes (because I'm in love with her), Max Martin, and maybe Angel Olsen. She's pretty cool.

Q. How’d it feel to release the EP?

Roan: It felt amazing to release the EP. I feel so indebted to all of the people who helped make it happen. My partner, Shawn, has been a pillar of encouragement and support the whole way through and has talked endlessly with me about ideas for production and arrangement of the songs. My family has been so helpful, especially Shawn's parents who tell all of their friends about our music and have done a ridiculous amount along the way to make the EP a reality.

John Naclerio, who we recorded with, Brittany Brave, my publicist, who goes above and beyond to connect us with incredible opportunities, and everyone who has heard the EP and given me their feedback about it. So many people have helped me and the EP is a symbol of that. It's such a good feeling. I can't wait to start working on a full-length album next!

Make sure to check out her EP on Spotify.

And you can purchase the album here.

Cover Image Credit: Emily Chiriboga

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22 Post Malone ‘beerbongs & bentleys’ Lyrics College Kids Will Use As Insta Captions This Summer

It's here, and it's fire.
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If you didn't know, I am really not sure how you wouldn't know, but it's fine, Post Malone's new album FINALLY came out! Posty has time and time again proven that he's a trailblazer in the music industry. His genre is a mix of everything, from rap to acoustic guitar, and he sounds like he's at home in both settings.

Here it is, a list of Post Malone lyrics you'll use or see as Instagram captions. I can already feel it, this summer is Posty's summer –– a summer for "beerbongs & bentleys."

1. "Spoil My Night" - "Won't you come spoil my night?"

2. "Spoil My Night" - "Feelings come into play and I'm thinkin' this happens every time"

3. "Spoil My Night" - "Yeah, when I walk up in a party, they all act like they know me"

4. "Zack and Codeine" - "Been livin' fast, no I can't take it slowly"

5. "Zack and Codeine" - "But it don't mean nothing without all my people"

6. "Zack and Codeine" - "Pour that drink 'cause we ain't sleepin' tonight"

7. "Takin Shots" - "Heard that there's a party, I might pay a visit"

8. "Takin Shots" - "Baby, just for the night, you my soulmate"

9. "Over Now" - "I'ma turn the tables, promise you will not forget it"

10. "Stay" - "Damn, who are we right now?"

11. "Blame It On Me" - "These hurricanes inside of my brain"

12. "Same Bitches" - "Bottles on deck, and my drink full"

13. "Same Bitches" - "Population four million, how I see the same bitches?"

14. "Jonestown" - "It happens every time"

15. "92 Explorer" - "She in the front seat head bangin'"

16. "Sugar Wraith" - "And then I went and changed my life"

17. "Sugar Wraith" - "I take the lead, they just follow"

18. "Rockstar" - "Sayin, 'I'm with the band'"

19. "Rockstar" - "Livin’ like a Rockstar, I’m livin’ like a Rockstar"

20. "Rockstar" - "Sweeter than a Pop-Tart”

21. "Psycho" - "Can’t really trust nobody with all this jewelry on you"

22. "Psycho" - "I got homies, let it go"

Cover Image Credit: Post Malone // Instagram

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What Harry Potter Means To Me

A special thank you to the Boy Who Lived.
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Growing up, my sister was my role model; whether it be buying all the expansion packs for Sims 3, cutting my hair for side bangs, or playing with Barbies, I followed every trend that she did in an attempt to be just like her.

When she was seven, my sister moved to Youghal, a small town in County Cork in Ireland. I was too young to really remember her moving, but as I grew up, watching my sister, my best friend, leave my side without knowing when I would see her again became the most heartbreaking experience I could have imagined.

We used to play school together when we were young- she taught me how to read and write the whole alphabet in cursive and in print by the time I was five years old, and it was during this time that she instilled my passion for reading. From the time I could spell "c-a-t", she had thrust a book in my small hands- books that were much too advanced for a normal five year old, but I read them with such an avarice that I continued to find books far above my level.

When I was six years old, she bestowed upon me one that would forever change my life and how I viewed the world; it was her worn-out copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, a novel by J.K. Rowling. When I first read the preview on the back cover, I found the plot somewhat boring- what is so significant about a young boy with a scar in the shape of lightning on his head? Not wanting to disappoint my sister, I decided to give it a try and was absolutely enraptured by the end of the first chapter. I fell in love with the eleven-year-old boy from 4 Privet Drive, Surrey, England.

The world of Harry Potter opened my eyes up to an entire new land, one full of magical creatures and friendships that would last a lifetime. We would stay up late discussing Harry Potter theories, debating back and forth on whether Snape was truly a hero or a villain, the logistics of Dumbledore and Harry’s relationship, and on whether Romione or Harmony should have prevailed.

Due to unfortunate circumstances, I did not see my sister for three whole years- from the ages of 12 until 15, the only time we made contact was through a screen, and this was a privileged rarity. During this time, I stopped paying attention to the Boy Who Lived. I was going through a series of rough patches, and just starting high school; it seemed silly to live in a fantasy world of my childhood, especially without my sister there to share it with me.

In the winter of 2014, I was given a chance to finally reconnect with the distant sister that I had missed so dearly; she came home for a week which, coincidentally, happened to be an ABC marathon of the Harry Potter movies.

I remember the sheer excitement in my sister’s expression as she snatched the remote off the table, muttering about Harry Potter as she found the channel for ABC like she had it committed to memory.

Apprehensively, I sat on the couch next to her to watch the movie (ironically, it was the last one). I didn’t remember all that much about the series, but I was so beyond desperate to once again connect with my long-lost sister, that I figured I would at least pretend to know what was happening.

It all came rushing back to me at the first shot of green light from Harry’s wand; it felt as though we were seven and twelve years old again, discussing in detail the plots twists and turns. She howled when Fred died with his last laugh still etched into his face, and I had to control myself from bursting into tears at the sight of Lupin and Tonks holding hands on their separate stretchers. Before I knew it, it was as though we were children again, completely entranced by a world that all started in the mind of a brilliant author.

Soon after, we passed on our tradition to our younger siblings; within a year, they all had read the series with our same voracity. Since then, I have made it my mission to keep my love for the series alive; my sister comes home more often for visits, and we have even taken the trip to Harry Potter World in Universal Studios together. I now own Harry Potter themed blankets, pillows, socks, and even makeup brushes- all of my siblings, in fact, have matching Harry Potter shirts!

Harry Potter has become a stronghold for not only my relationship with my sister, but a tradition amongst the entire family; no matter how far apart we are physically, we are bonded by our love for the Boy Who Lived.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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