Maggie Rogers – In the Spotlight

By Frances Hannon

Over the last year, Maggie Rogers name has skyrocketed into every corner of the music world. Forging her musical career started from a young age, but the saying ‘it all happened over night’ has never been more true for Rogers sudden rise to fame.

It was a single video of Maggie performing her track ‘Alaska’ to a small audience in New York that sparked off her stardom. Amongst this audience was an awestruck Pharrell Williams who was stunned to silence by Maggie’s unique sound.

Since the video going viral, Rogers has firmly cemented her name in the music industry. Her rightful success is partly down to her clear eye for the written word; her lyrics are nothing short of poetry. But, this isn’t the pretentious poetry that is written to bewilder. No, her poetry is meant to be understood, to be empathised with. It is the kind of music that ignites envy in budding writers such as me, when I encounter someone who has so effortlessly expressed such complexities of experience.

Her language is vivid and colourful – and if you follow Maggie Rogers on Instagram, you’ll understand why. Her energy is plentiful, her smile infectious and her laugh utterly contagious. Often Rogers will be found wearing more simple, muted outfits, remarking that she doesn’t want anything to detract the audience from her music. But, she will sometimes throw in dashes of colour, just as she did in her latest performance at Coachella music festival. Maggie showcased a flowy, semi-translucent fuchsia pink shawl, creating the ethereal illusion of wings. This extravagant accessory was offset by Maggie’s endearingly natural look and relatable lyricism; the perfect combination in a star of being simultaneously accessible whilst somewhat enchanting.

Her life is colourful too. She began (and terminated) an internship at ELLE Magazine to pursue her music career, and before this, she studied abroad in Europe. It was in Berlin that she discovered a new found love for electronic dance music; a style which echoes throughout her debut album, ‘Heard it in a Past Life’.

In her lyrics we see the true extent of her talents. Tucked away amongst the spacey, irregular sounds of tracks such as ’Say It’, we encounter relatable stories of falling hard and fast in moments that seem to stand apart from reality. Capturing these instances of fleeting, yet overwhelming emotion, show Rogers ability to produce music that mirrors the complexities of real-life experience. At just 24-years-old, Rogers uses her music to explore the multi-dimensionality of emotion that is experienced when rising to fame so quickly; the stresses, the euphoria, and everything in between.

Explaining the story behind her hit record ‘Light On’ in a hand-written note on Instagram, Rogers writes: “It’s an uncomfortable thing to tell the group of people who supported you through everything that it wasn’t always perfect, that I wasn’t always happy. Change is messy. Messy is human”. It’s this openness and vulnerability that makes Roger’s music so inviting. It can resonate with a multitude of young adults who are trying to make sense of the confusing world that we’re living in.

Her exploration of fluctuating emotion is felt throughout her layered tracks. In ‘Alaska’ we see an alternation between pulsating synths and more fluid sounds, whilst in ‘Give a Little’, layered vocals are used in order to create an almost chorus like quality.

Both ‘The Knife’ and ‘Retrograde’ are more fast-paced tracks than others on the album, and contrast the more sombre and exposed moments that occur in both ‘Past Life’ and ‘Falling Water’. Whilst her vocals may get slightly lost amongst the more ‘produced’ sounds of ‘The Knife’ and ‘Retrograde’, the combination of hip hop and electronica creates an all together upbeat, funky sound. These songs will, undoubtedly, make you want to move. It’s this desire for movement that Rogers frequently talks about, and her live performances reveal an unrelenting energy. She doesn’t just want her music to be receptive, she wants it to be felt too. These are the sorts of songs that you will find yourself uncontrollably singing to.

Whilst some may be inclined to say she has not yet found her way as an artist due to her eclectic mix of sounds throughout the album, perhaps it would be better to think of Rogers as an artist who is both willing and brave enough to experiment with sound. An artist who is resistant to becoming pigeonholed into one sub sector of the music world. This album is about an evolution of character, and it seems that her music will be a part of this too. She is experimental and versatile, and is most certainly laying the foundations for further explorations of stylistic choices.

With that said, her determination to find her place in the music world is evident in the final track of the album ‘Back in my Body’. “This time, I know I’m fighting”, she sings. It seems, Maggie Rogers, the uniter of folk and electro, will not be leaving the music scene anytime soon – in fact, her journey is only just beginning.

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