Interview with Maggie Rogers
Maggie Rogers is currently supporting Mumford & Sons, who are on tour promoting their new album ‘Delta’. Maggie opened her set with “On + Off”, taken from her debut EP ‘Now That the Light Is Fading’. She played a range of songs, from some taken off her first EP to those that will appear on the new album. Maggie’s enthusiasm, talent and spirited personality came through each song. Before “Alaska”, the song that gained her much public attention and set her career off, she asked the crowd to singalong if they knew it, of which they obliged. Still full of energy, Maggie closed with “Fallingwater”, which appears on the new album, and a song she describes as ‘celebrating rapid change’, perhaps hinting at the direction of her debut album ‘Heard It in a Past Life’.
I caught up with Maggie for a quick chat before the show.
Your tour manager mentioned you were part of a magazine when you were at college?
I did journalism for a bunch of years. I studied at NYU, wrote for the local paper and Spin magazine, a music magazine, when I was at school. It’s part of being in New York it’s fucking awesome, you can just intern anywhere.
I mentioned that I saw her at the Birmingham show on Friday. How has the tour with Mumford & Sons been going so far?
It’s fucking awesome. I think Birmingham was the best show we’ve played yet, as we have just started to figure it out, as you know these are my first arena tours and they are also 360°. The 360° stage is so cool, everyone is so close and there is no bad seat. I think that is what is so good about touring with Mumford & Sons, they have been a band for 10 years and are still really trying to challenge themselves, which I think is cool.
How did you guys meet?
I first met Ben, he owns a club in London called Omera and my first London shows were there. After my shows at Omera they curated a day at Latitude Festival for Gentlemen of the road and they had me on and so I met the whole gang there. We then went to Senegal for ten days with Babba Mall last December and we’ve been good pals since. I love these guys, they were very early supporters of mine and have become incredible friends and every time I’m around them I just feel really inspired.
You’ve performed in the UK previously, haven’t you?
Yeah, mostly for shows in London and for festivals. I was also on tour with Haim in June. I have yet to play my own headlining shows in the greater UK regions, but I’m excited to start doing some of those next year, as UK tour dates for the album have already been announced.
Have you had much free time to explore the cities you’re playing?
We’ve had more free time than expected, because of the cancelled shows obviously. Last night I read a lot, hung out with my bandmates and then at ten o’ clock we were like I wonder if there’s anything to do, almost everywhere was closed. There was a last-minute bowling alley open, so we went bowling and I have not laughed that hard in a very long time. It was awesome. We head to London tonight. But it’s been nice to have been in Nottingham, it’s cute here, it reminds me of a lot of US cities I love.
How did you get into music and what inspires you?
I grew up in this rural area, like 2 hours south of Washington D.C. in Maryland. I grew up playing folk music, the banjo and that was very much the music of that area, which is a very strong part of my identity. But at the same time, I lived in New York for 5 years, I also lived in France and Berlin. I came to love techno, really love electronic music and find a sense of meditation in it.
I then felt very conflicted, because there were these two parts of me, the different places I’d lived, two different kinds of music I had come to love, and I was having a really hard time making music as I wasn’t sure which box I really fit into. So, then I decided to stop thinking of genre and I think that was the biggest thing.
So now you just create whatever you want to, without the thought of having to fit in a genre?
Yeah, I think it is easy to get into your head when you are making stuff, especially now because there’s so much pressure to get it right and I don’t know what the fuck right means. There is this pressure, when you put your first songs out, probably because of this permanence of the Internet. You know, people can’t just make music and make a mixtape for their friends, as once it’s out there it follows you around. But I think it’s dumb, as it means that there is no space to fail, which is essential to being good at anything.
I just stopped thinking. I think genre exists to sell music, but it shouldn’t be a part of making music and I think even less and less it is because of streaming services. It’s not like you have people that just identify with one type of music. Everyone listens to everything now.
I also wanted to ask you about your clothing and style, do you get to decide what you wear on stage?
I used to wear, along the EP cycle, a lot of stage costumes. I think I was probably wearing one with Haim, those were super fun and they were designed by Christian Joy. A lot of them we designed together, but she made all of those and now I’m sort of not wanting to wear them anymore. It’s interesting feeling change and hoping that you’re not disappointing people in changing.
You know all this happening to me, and the Pharrell video at the beginning of my career, I was really scared, overwhelmed and unsure of whether this was all for me. I found that wearing these costumes on stage was helpful because I got to dress up and be someone other than myself. Now I kind of just want to be me and so I’m trying to figure out what that means on stage. I don’t know if I know yet.
I don’t know if it is exactly what I want yet but it’s doing the trick for now. I am still exploring, but maybe by the time the record is out I would have figured it out.
Maggie Rogers debut album ‘Heard It in a Past Life’ will be released on the 18th of January 2019. Maggie has also announced some UK and Ireland tour dates, which will be commencing February 2019 in Ireland.
Photo credit: Olivia Bee