August 23 2019

Annie O Presents: Roan Yellowthorn

New York-Standard Sounds
Roan Yellowthorn is actually an alter ego designed to create a safe space for artist, Jackie McLean who never felt comfortable with her given name: “Roan Yellowthorn feels like mine because no one gave it to me—I gave it to myself. It came from within and it feels true.” Her first album, ‘Indigo,’ came out in 2018 on Blue Elan Records, which she often performs with her partner, Shawn Strack. We caught up with the singer-songwriter before her show on August 26 at The Standard, East Village’s Penthouse as part of Annie O’s series.

Where are you based these days?

We are based in upstate NY.

Tell us about your stage name- Roan Yellowthorn and the idea behind it?

I created the name Roan Yellowthorn in college in order to give myself a safe space to exist inside of. I never felt comfortable with my given name because it didn’t feel like my own. Roan Yellowthorn feels like mine because no one gave it to me—I gave it to myself. It came from within and it feels true.

Your music has been described as ethereal pop; do you agree with that? Are you working on new songs?

I am working on new songs. I just finished recording a special album of re-worked material and I’m recording a new album of original songs in February. My first album [Indigo] was definitely in the ethereal pop vein. The new material I’m working on is a lot more raw and vulnerable production-wise. There’s less of a pop sheen on it. I feel like I’m finding my voice as I go and that’s hard to label but if I had to give it a name; I’d say the sound I’m settling into is kind of neo-folk.

"I like connecting with the audience in between songs. My lyrics center around some very personal issues and the connections I make through that is really important to me."

What are you listening to these days?

I listen to the same music over and over again pretty much. I’ve loved the same things for most of my life. There are a few newer artists thrown in here and there. I always come back to ABBA. I really like Maria Taylor. I like The Dixie Cups, Michael Jackson, Grimes, Angel Olsen, Leonard Cohen, Meatloaf, The Bee Gees, The Beach Boys, Blink 182, Elton John. It’s an eclectic list.

What can we expect from your performance at the Standard, East Village , as part of the Annie O Music series?

I will be playing a few new songs. I play live mostly with my partner who is a drummer so it’s an intimate set. I like connecting with the audience in between songs. My lyrics center around some very personal issues and the connections I make through that is really important to me.

INTERVIEW BY
Annie O