Music & Culture

The Magic of Maggie Rogers: The Folk Music Trailblazer’s Rise

Artsy folk and pop starlight Maggie Rogers rose in the scene over the last few years. Her style is fun, fresh and dreamy, with a voice that coats like honey. For her birthday, we’ll take a look at her story, one that demonstrates a creative mind and a heart at work.

She captures a similar essence of Florence + the Machine, HAIM and Sylvan Esso, but her original sound was a bit different.

While residing in Maryland with her family, she had been experimenting with music and lyrics ever since she was a child, playing the harp in 7th grade as well as singing in the school choir. Later, as a student at NYU at the Clive Davis Institute, she considered a career in music journalism while producing mixtapes of her own, which were more classical and structured. She excelled in this practice and grew comfortable in her studies.

While studying abroad in France, she embarked on a trip to Berlin, where she witnessed a new genre of music, with an emphasis on movement, dance and unique rhythm. This “a-ha” moment was striking for her, as she shifted her focus to a more folky style with electronic accents. Like all musicians, writer’s block came and went in waves — the longest stretch being two years, during which she felt defeated and isolated.

In 2016, she wrote “Alaska,” a song that became her trademark for years to come. The song has a simple beat (which she discovered by patting her legs in a rhythm while in the studio, as explained in an episode of Song Exploder) and a chant for overcoming a past love, while absorbing a captivating landscape. “And I walked off you // And I Walked off an old me // Oh me, oh my, I thought it was just a dream // So it seems.”

She played “Alaska” in a master class at NYU as part of an assignment. The teacher was producer and singer Pharrell Williams, who was blown away by her talent and creativity, stating, “I have nothing to add or critique for this song.”

The song went viral that June, propelling her in the scene. She graduated from college with a degree in music engineering/production and English. Capitol Records signed Maggie that summer, and she began writing and reflecting.

The EP, Now That the Light Is Fading, released at the start of 2017, was composed of several songs that accompanied “Alaska.” “Color Song” is a quiet ode to the turn of dusk, looking out into the lake. The track is a strong start to the album and sets the tone for feelings of togetherness, dancing and liveliness. “On + Off” is a record telling of the push and pull of infatuation. “Dog Years” follows on the tracklist, affirming her support for her lover in tough times. The final jam, “Better,” wraps the soul of the album in a nice bow.

In January 2019, Rogers’ debut record, Heard It In A Past Life was born, and we got to fully experience Maggie’s sound, soul and energy. “Give A Little,” the first song, has a staggered start, later demonstrating a collage of diverse, whimsical sounds. This style can be found on “Overnight,” “The Knife” and “Fallingwater,” perhaps the top album’s best. Her song “Light On” takes us in her dream, proving light and clarity: “I’m still dancing at the end of the day.” Other noteworthy tracks include “Retrograde” and “Back in My Body”, which highlight her stellar voice and range.

The most recent jam for Rogers was at the close of 2019, surprising fans with delightful vocals. “Love you For A Long Time” is a proclamation for everlasting love. From the start of the song, we’re pulled in with her voice and the beat. It’s a super sweet jam that catches us in the feels.

In an attempt to unite against the coronavirus, she teamed up with a few musicians and launched “The Isolation Journals” on her Twitter account last month. The purpose is to assist fans in remaining creative throughout the this stressful and uncertain time. What a great way to encourage those that look to art for guidance and strength.

Her collection focuses on light, love, resilience and patience. We look forward to hearing more from Maggie!

Featured Image: Instagram (@maggierogers)