INTERVIEW: Roan Yellowthorn

Hi Jackie, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hey! I’ve been great. I live in upstate NY and we just had a crazy heatwave of like 90 degrees for the past few days so I’m glad that’s over. It’s finally feeling like Fall now.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Talk About It”?

The single is coming out soon and I’m really excited about it. It’s definitely one of my favorites out of all the songs I’ve written and we worked really hard on it to get the sound just right. It’s a pop song with a singer/songwriter feel to it. It has depth, lyrically, but it’s also a song you can dance to and enjoy without focusing on the words.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Sometimes you end a relationship and there are lots of things that go unsaid. You have questions that go unanswered, thoughts that you can’t air out, things you want to say. Memories that haunt you. This song is about what happens when you stop talking and lose contact with someone but still have thoughts and feelings that you want to sort through with them.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Yes. We are storyboarding it right now. My producer and partner, Shawn, used to be a video producer and worked on movies and news and did stuff for MTV. He’s really talented and I’m excited that we are able to do the video side of stuff together as well as the music production element. It’s going to be a really cool video- intense and layered. And with people in their underwear. Cause that’s important, too.

The single comes off your new album Indigo – what’s the story behind the title?

All of the songs have a similar feel. A similar color. I’m really visual when it comes to emotion and themes and the unifying theme is the color Indigo. Like a night sky. It not only influences the sound of the album, but the word itself has many connotations that are relevant- there’s the idea of being blue or sad, and also the idea of an indigo child, which is a person with deep feelings and strong intuition. An introverted person. A complex person. I relate to that. Plus there’s a song on the album called Indigo. So it all comes together!

How was the recording and writing process?

They were very different from each other and both very enjoyable. The writing was over the span of about a year. Ever since our last EP, I’ve been writing for this new album. It was in spurts, but over time I amassed enough material. The recording process was super fun. We spent five days at two different studios in the Hudson Valley. Two days at Nada Recording in New Windsor with our good friend, John Naclerio, doing basically all of the instruments- guitars, drums, bass, e-bow, all of that. That was Shawn. And then we went to another studio and I did most of the main vocals, harmonies, and some piano. We took all of that stuff and Shawn put it together at our home studio and has been mixing the shit out of it for the past month straight. It’s pretty sweet.

How has your upbringing influenced your writing?

I grew up listening to old music. Watching old TV shows and movies. Like from the ‘20s and ‘30s up to the ‘70s. My dad always had classic movies, vintage shows, and beautiful music playing. Those are my points of reference. And I was exposed to a lot of poetry and musical theater and literature. So I think all that has really influenced my sensibility. I have very high standards for myself when I write a song- the poetry has to be flawless. I don’t like repeating words for rhymes. I like the rhymes to be perfect and the syllables to line up exactly. I feel I must create layers of meaning in each line and yet keep the lyrics simple and flowing on the surface. And the musical structure has to be complex but based in a classic pop structure. I’m working on bending some of these strict notions but the foundation is there. And I think that comes from growing up with lots of really carefully crafted poetry and music and literature all around me.

Does musical theater play a role in your music?

I’m so glad you asked that! Um, yes. Basically I am a musical theater nerd. My mom took me to a million plays when I was a kid. And I did a lot of performing. I’ve seen like 85 musicals and I think in terms of musical theater. Like, I see the world as a musical- the drama, the feelings, the double-layered refrains. The reprise done as a duet that’s given a sudden extra meaning. This is how I think. And I feel like my aesthetic is totally there. I think I could definitely write a musical. I try to hold back the cheese in my writing for Roan Yellowthorn but if I let loose I could really make it happen. Drama, double meaning, high emotion, call-backs, duets, full-blown choruses. I’m all in.

What aspect of your life did you get to explore on this record?

I think I got to explore my feelings. That’s always rewarding for me- getting to delve deep and comb through the archives. Then honoring what I find. That’s something I really appreciate- being able to honor those hidden thoughts and emotions that get pushed down for years and years and crystalize into kinds of gems; unearthing them and  setting them out in the light, where they take on a new life and can be things of beauty.

Any plans to hit the road?

Yes! Probably next summer. We’ll get the album out, put out some music videos, and then take the show on the road.

What else is happening next in Roan Yellowthorn’s world?

Growing and building. Personally and creatively. That’s all I’m trying to do. Just trying to put in the work and enjoy the journey.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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