Maggie Rogers – the student who made Pharrell Williams cry – hasn’t yet released a full-length album, but every time the 22-year-old shares one of her tracks it’s shared voraciously across social media.
Her debut EP Now That The Light Is Fading will be available on Spotify on February 16 (you can pre-save it right now); we bagged the singer-songwriter’s only Australian interview ahead of the five-track’s release.
Q1/ The tone of your production is hugely original – it’s something many (seasoned, dare I say jaded) critics have mentioned! Do you find yourself intentionally looking for sounds or combinations which are unfamiliar to your ear?
I don’t know about unfamiliar, but I’m definitely always looking for creative challenge. It’s important to me that I always feel like I’m growing and changing and developing when I’m making music, constantly thinking about what I could do better or differently or more efficiently. I’ve been making music for the past 10 years and I think that drive was what inevitably lead me to want to study music production in university. I’ve always just wanted to know more.
Q2/ The clips you’ve released so far reveal your interest in dance; are you trained in any way? How does your expression through movement work when you’re playing live?
I’ve never really had any formal dance training, but dancing in general has always just been something that has brought me so much joy. There’s a certain release to dancing. I think it’s really the most instinctual way we can experience music. Some of my best memories from the past few years are from dancing with friends. It’s something I turn to when I’m sad or having an off day, but something I also use to celebrate. It’s been really fun to experiment with movement on stage because this is the first time I’ve been on stage and not had an instrument attached to my body. Again, an exciting challenge.
Q3/ The director of both clips, Zia Anger, has done some gorgeous work including directing for Angel Olsen. How did you find someone who could so wonderfully communicate the vision you were going for?
Zia and I connected almost instantly and I feel so grateful to have had her as a creative partner for these videos. When we got started, I had a very clear vision of what I wanted for each video and while we kept strong elements of my original concepts, Zia was instrumental in pushing those ideas further, really helping us flesh them out together. We always came to a middle ground where we were both creatively very happy and excited about the ideas we were exploring and I think that comes across in the videos too.
Q4/ I’d imagine the exposure you received from the video of Pharrell listening to your track was a shock; what did you learn in the first few days after that clip went totally berserk online?
Haha, I think I really learned how little I knew about the internet and how it worked. I grew up spending a lot of time outside. I’m from a pretty rural area. I never watched TV or movies or spent a lot of time online. The whole experience was incredibly surreal, but also really hard to quantify. What does 100,000 people mean? Or 1 million people mean? It was impossible to conjure a picture in my head of what that meant and I think it very much still is.
Q5/ How do you manage to balance the vulnerability of your particular artistic style with the courage that’s required to put your ideas out into the world?
I think that if you’re truly vulnerable in your work, that you create something that is universal. The more you can put your own story and emotions on the line, the more likely it is that someone has felt that way and has shared those feelings. That’s the beauty of the human experience and the ability of music to bring people together. I think the real challenge is finding the words that can really pinpoint exactly how you’re feeling and not just how you’ve heard someone else describe your emotion.