Artist Spotlight: Maggie Rogers

The first time I heard Maggie Rogers was while I was in a particularly long closing shift at work. Her song, Light On, which I didn’t know then, brought me much needed energy as it played loudly throughout the store. Honestly, I felt like dancing. After that night, I went on a full search to find that song, and when I finally did, I swear I listened to it over and over again every day. And every time I would find myself smiling, jamming along and moving my body, whether that was nodding my head in the car or dancing in my room. That’s what I love about Maggie Rogers’ music- it brings you joy and makes you want to dance. It’s special. 

Naturally, after I listened to her music, I looked up music videos, performances, and interviews on YouTube. Not only did I admire her music, but I started admiring her. She is so authentic and humble. You can tell how much she loves music and the whole process. And when she’s on stage, you can see she transports herself into another world. She has fun and dances around, and it’s infectious. I remember when I got to go to her concert in Philadelphia in October, the entire crowd was moving. She was having a great time on stage, and we ended up having an amazing time too. Also, she sounds just as good live as she does in recordings.

Maggie Rogers is not just an artist. She’s an activist, a sustainable fashionista (love!), an environmentalist, an inspiration, and a cool celebrity. Personally, I think she’s an icon, but we can debate that later :). An NYU Clive Davis alum (Go Violets!), her call to fame was a master class with Pharell Williams. She played her song Alaska (a song she wrote in 15 minutes by the way… crazy, right?) for him, and he was blown away. She went viral soon after the video of the master class came out and ending up signing a contract with Capitol Records. She went from a small town Maryland girl living in New York City to fame almost immediately. After she graduated in 2016, she started performing around the world at various festivals and talk shows. Maggie Rogers writes and produces her own music. In fact, she was a writer for every song and a producer for most of them on her first album, Heard It in a Past Life. 

Rogers went viral overnight (ironically, the name of one of her songs) and struggled with the sudden attention she received, but in my opinion, she handled it with grace. Her album is a sort of autobiographical in that sense, as she has explained it as an “attempt to process everything she’s experienced since 2016 and take back control of the narrative around her career.” She handled the whole label bidding process amazingly and signed a label on her own terms with her own contract that allowed her to license her own music to Capitol under her imprint, Debay Sounds. How cool is that? She went the extra mile so she could have more control over her music. Rogers is involved in her music creation all the way to costume design, as she has synesthesia, so she associated sounds and music, which she reflects in her costume choices for music videos and performances. She’s since had her first world tour for her first album. Not only does she perform at concerts, but she supports important causes by having Planned Parenthood and voter registration booths there. This year, she was nominated for her first Grammy, and she wore a vintage Chanel dress with a matching Chanel reusable water bottle to the event. She advocates for voting through her merch, too, with “Maggie Rogers Wants You To Vote” t-shirts. She performed at the 2020 Democratic National Convention, as well. Maggie Rogers is more than a performer and an artist. 

If you haven’t become amazed by her so far, and need more convincing, here are a few song recommendations. Choosing my favorite songs would be hard because I truly love every one of her songs, and I can’t say that about many artists. 

If you’re into indie pop and folkish music, you should check her out! Here are a few songs to get started: 

  •  Light On- a classic. The song that introduced me to all that is Maggie Rogers. This song will make you want to dance and sing along.

  • On + Off- a catchy jam, which you guessed it, will also make you want to dance.

  • Love You For A Long Time- a melodic love song that will make you smile. 

  • Alaska- a must. The song that made her go viral. 

  • Back In My Body- a song about a panic attack Rogers had while she was performing in London and a similar incident in Paris. A song about her coming back to herself.

  • Overnight- a song about heartache that Rogers described as a “letter from my new self to my old self.” Fun fact: she used glacier and frog sound samples to create some of the synths.

Interviews I referred to and sources to read more about Maggie Rogers (in addition to the ones linked in text):