'It's not all about the music industry': Maggie Rogers opens up about her debut album

'It's not all about the music industry': Maggie Rogers opens up about her debut album

Ever since she reduced Pharrell Williams to mush with her music as student, expectation has been building towards Maggie Rogers’ debut album.

Well, now the wait is over. Today, the 24-year-old releases Heard It In A Past Life, ahead of a February UK tour that takes in a show at O2 Academy Brixton.

As you might expect, the last couple of years have been something of a whirlwind for singer, producer and songwriter Rogers – as she outlined in our interview last year – and Heard It In A Past life is coloured by her experiences.

Here, in a brand new Q&A, she discusses the record that will finally halt the anticipation surrounding her and her music. You can be sure the buzz will intensify, but there’s a sense that Rogers can relax and enjoy the moment, even if only for a second.

Who else worked on the album?

“I did a lot of it, then I worked with Greg Kurstin on some of it, Rostam Batmanglij for some of it, Ricky Reed, and then worked on a song with some of my school classmates and mostly split my time between my home studio in Maryland and Los Angeles.” 

How was it letting other people into your creative process?

“I didn’t want to work with other people [initially], but I’m glad I did, Greg, Ricky and Rostam are so amazing. Rostam came from me, I loved Vampire Weekend and the record he made with Hamilton Leithauser and wanted to learn more about his brain. It’s interesting; because I know there are female producers who think that if they work with men then they wont get the credit. I don’t think they’re wrong, that’s definitely fucking true, but I also know the work that I did and if I don’t work with other people then I’m never gonna learn. And I learned so much making this record and grew so much as a writer, producer and artist. It helped bring things out and channel things, and its fun! It’s way more fun than spending a bunch of time alone.”

I'm really proud of the record, I said everything I wanted to

Maggie Rogers

Did you get into the LA co-writing game?

“The label did send me on a fuck-tonne of speed dating in LA, it was interesting. I tried to stay really open to it, it was really frustrating at times and I still don’t know if I made the record my label wanted me to make, but I made the record I wanted to make, and that feels more important. At least I did what I wanted to do. I’m really proud of the record and I love it, I said everything I wanted to say. I’ve always thought of making records as cataloguing time. I told the story of everything that happened to me since that video. There’s this culture in Los Angeles of writing every day, and writing a lot, I know some people really love that. I think music and writing is supposed to punctuate life, it’s not supposed to be life. It’s not natural. I’ve tried writing every day, but the songs I think are the truest and the best are the ones that come when they’re ready.”

Will there be surprises on there?

“It was important on the record to cover the joy as much as how tough and weird my life was. It’s not all about the music industry or about the video or about me, it’s about my personal life. I fell in love and fell out of love, I made a tonne of new friends and travelled the world. It fully tells the story of that time in my life, I don’t know if people will hear that, but that’s what it meant to me. The most beautiful thing about music is that it connects to people and morphs to whatever their life is. So I hope more that people think less abut my story and more about what’s happening to them.”

How has your sound developed?

“Before, I was so inspired by dance music, which made the EP what it was, before that I had made folk and rock records, then I made a synth-based record and missed instruments, and touring with instruments. It was exciting to play without an instrument but I missed it. So I added in a whole lot more for this one: piano, guitar, real drums, synths too. I missed natural sounds. My sound has matured, it feels settled.”

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