“No please, we’re on a date, ask me anything.” We’re chatting about astrology in Shoreditch’s Ace Hotel, where Maggie has accidentally become a regular.
“Zodiac just says I’m stubborn, which is true, but I think that’s a good quality. And creative and loyal. That’s good, right? Everyone wants loyalty. And it was interesting when I found out I had some Gemini in me, but that makes a lot of sense for what my life looks like, considering I’m like on stage and then like, my life has a lot of dualities – private vs public life.”
She’s just been on tour with Haim, her first ever opening slot on a tour. “I got really lucky and got to skip a couple of steps,” she says. “But I am so, so glad I’m doing it because I just feel like I’m in performance boot camp, in the best way, because I feel like I’ve got so much to learn, especially watching those guys every night.
“They’re such powerful musicians and have such powerful presence on stage, and they’ve been playing together for so long that their set is so so tight, and it feels effortless. When I’m on stage, I feel like I’ve spent the last year trying to figure out just like what to do with all of that adrenaline.”
She’s still figuring a lot out, by the sounds of it. Unsurprising, considering she’s only properly been in this game for about two years. “I have this vision of getting on stage one day and being totally commanding and not moving and letting the music do the work. Just like, doing a slight sway. I’m like, this time okay I’m gonna just do it. Then I get on stage, and I have so much adrenaline that I’m just like bouncing off the walls.
“I see videos of myself back and I like don’t sit still ever but it’s because I love the music so much and I feel it so powerfully that I’m going that way but I think it’s just like, finding a sense of normalcy in it is like a whole different ballgame, and I’m starting to figure out what that looks like.”
In fact, Maggie can – and does – count all of her UK headline shows to date on one hand. Last year, she played Omera in February, Brixton Electric in June, Glastonbury and Citadel. Those, plus her support slot with Haim and two upcoming headline shows at KOKO in August, complete the list. For someone who has only been touring properly for the past year and a half, she definitely performs with the demeanour of someone far more established.
“Everything happened so quickly that just having my first shows sell out was so amazing. It’s really special to now be in rooms where I’m getting the chance to introduce myself, and that might like sound crazy but I didn’t have the opportunity to introduce myself in the beginning, it sort of happened for me.”
Of course, she’s referring to that video with Pharrell, but now it’s time for the world to see Maggie as an artist in her own right. “I’m so grateful for that because it’s allowed me to do all these other things in my work, but there is something really nice, really calming, really energising about getting on stage every night and getting to introduce myself fresh.”
“It’s cool to see comments or people writing me after the show being like, ‘Totally didn’t realise it was the same person and at the end, I Googled you and realised that that video I saw a long time ago is now that same person’. Obviously, that video was essential to how my private life became public, and it’s sort of a cornerstone of my story, but I’m so excited for there to be more than that.”
For her first headline shows, she didn’t even have enough songs to fill the set. Now there’s an album on the way, she’s having less trouble. “I mean I’m playing like most of the record live. I don’t have enough songs! It’s all from the record.”
It’s impossible not to name-drop when it comes to Maggie Rogers. On her debut album, she’s working with Greg Kurstin, Rostam, and Ricky Reed. She says, “I learned so much working with these people, that I just feel so lucky to have had collaborators like that for this record.” No biggie.
She’s also doing whatever the bloody hell she wants when it comes to releasing singles and the record. “I’m just like, making decisions when I have decisions to make. Right now I don’t need to know what the third single is. I know what the second is. I feel in the flow; I feel good.
“There are two songs – ‘Fallingwater’ being one – that I’ve slowly been toiling with over the last two-ish years, but the majority of the record I made over the course of about four months, between my home studio in Maryland and studios of friends in Los Angeles. There’s probably four or five versions of every song, so we’re just getting to refining the last couple of sounds and frequencies, should wrap it up soon.”
The record is nearly done, but we’ve got no idea when we’ll be able to hear it. Maggie has no idea, either. “The record label set arbitrary dates, but we’ve actually taken them all away recently. I think we have a lot to unlearn about how we release records. There’s a lot that’s evolving. You know it used to be three songs over the course of three to four months, then you get a record.
“People are much more single based these days, which I actually think it’s totally in my favour because if you make a record you’re proud of, you love every song. Every song gets to be a moment; it’s like taking a bath, slow, song by song, getting to really sink in.”
And it’s (kind of) up to you what comes next. She’s keeping a close eye on social media for what and when people want to hear new stuff. “People seem to be really digging ‘Fallingwater’, which is awesome. I feel like that’s fine for now. Then when I put another song out people will still be discovering ‘Fallingwater’. It’s a process.
“The record will come sometime between September and January. It’s a big window, but I would rather trust my instincts than like try and fit into a system that says I need to tell everyone a date. It’s pretty awesome that I like saddled up to my record label and was like, ‘I just wanna trust my instincts’, and they were like, ‘Yeah, sure’.”
Maggie’s totally rewriting the rules for this album release. Going with the flow and trusting her instincts seem to be her mantras for the process. “When you really settle, you already know the answers to all the questions. Just takes a little time. And trusting it, I think that’s the thing I’ve learned over the last two years. When everything’s so new, it’s hard to figure out what your instinct’s saying. Especially when it’s not always the convenient answer.
“Having my first single for this record be a down-tempo four-and-a-half-minute long song is not the convenient answer, but it was sort of the only answer. Every time I thought about the record, ‘Fallingwater’ had to be the first song. It’s where I wanted to start telling the story.”
The story she’s referring to picks up exactly where we left off. “I feel like records are a record of a period of time. The EP tells the story of my last months of college, the record is everything since, but if I had the choice, I never would’ve made the EP. I like to speak in complete sentences.
“This record is a lot about change and transition and how powerful that can be and how exciting that can be but also like how terrifying it can be and anxiety-inducing. It feels like everywhere I look things are changing these days. Whether it’s social, political, personal. Its just kind of something that, as personal as it feels and as much change as there’s been in my life, it also feels like a greater narrative.”
You can totally add Maggie Rogers to the list of terribly nice pop stars too. Before we leave, she gives us some Sudafed; then she taps ‘save’ on our voice memos app. “Sorry, I do everything on voice memos, I just wanna make sure it’s saved.”
Taken from the August issue of Dork. Order a copy below.
Featuring Pale Waves, Maggie Rogers, Death Cab For Cutie and more.