Maggie Rogers grows up quickly. After releasing “The Echo” when she was just eighteen, in her latest “Blood Ballet” she showed the changings of an artistic maturity. Here’s her talking about it and her personal approach to music.
You started making records very young: when did you started playing music? Have you got any musical education?
When I was 6, I asked my Mom for harp lessons. I picked the most largest and most difficult instrument possible, but my parents were incredibly supportive. From there I learned piano and with those fundamentals taught myself guitar and banjo.
Is there any artist you consider important in your musical formation or at least someone you feel close to your sensibility?
Bjork, Patti Smith, and Feist are a trio of strong, intelligent musicians that I have always looked up to. For me, they are poets that express a strong connection to the earth and a deep passion for life.
What’s your ideal condition for writing music? Where does your inspiration usually come from?An ideal space for writing music would be curled up in a small cabin somewhere far away from the city. Although usually, I’m writing in my bedroom with the Empire State Building out of my window. I can always find inspiration in my daily life and the world around me whether that’s taxi horns or bird calls.
You give your albums in free/name your price download: what do you think about the way music spreads nowadays through the web? Do you think it is helpful for a young new artist like you?
I think its really helpful. Not everyone is willing to pay money for music that they’re just discovering, when they’re not sure if they like the artist yet. I ask my audience to pay what they believe the music to be worth and I find this to be a much more genuine way of putting a price on music. Some people will connect more to my songs than others so some pay me $25 and some pay me nothing.
There is some difference between “The Echo” and “Blood Ballet” in sound and themes: what’s changed in your approach to music in the meantime?
I think the biggest difference between the two is time. It’s been two years since I put out music and in those two years I’ve moved away from home, a small farm in Maryland, to New York City. It’s a much different life and a much different pace with different people as well and I’m learning a lot.
On “Blood Ballet” you had an external co-production and worked with a wider number of other musician. Has it been different to work with many other people than doing nearly everything on your own?
I really love the act of collaboration. One melody will always be heard and interpreted in a different way by another musical brain. Since the beginning of time, music was always meant to be something shared and I think its strongest in that form.
How do you feel playing your music live? Do you prefer playing it with a band or alone with guitar voice and little more?
Playing live for me is always a tricky thing. I play slow music so I often worry about boring an audience. For that reason, I like playing with a band more. With a band, the music feels fuller, more the way that I imagine it in my head, but I don’t underestimate the power of a solo performance. I think in the right setting, with the right people a solo performance can be a very emotional and sometimes even spiritual thing. Its an ancient craft and feels like a privilege to be a part of that history every time I sit down with a banjo or a guitar.
Is there any artist you’d fancy working with?
So many! But these days Sharon Van Etten is near the top of my list.
As a listener, do you like similar music than the one you write?
I really love listening to all types of music. I think diversity is important for expanding your musical tastes and palate as a performer and creator. There are just too many beautiful sounds in this world to limit yourself.
It seems that folk music is growing and spreading widely among independent artists in the recent years: what do you think about this return to simplicity and to (generally speaking) folk languages?
I think that it makes a lot of sense. We live in a world where we are constantly over stimulated by electronics. I think people look to folk music as a simple, grounding force. It brings your back to the simple, raw, emotion that brings people together in the first place. The chords are simple and familiar, the words are honest – genuine expression will always find a listener.
What’s the meaning and the goal – both personal and artistic – of making music?
Going by my name, Maggie Rogers, very much merges the personal and the artistic into one. And to be honest, for now at least, there really is no goal. I want to make music that’s authentic with the hopes that someone will hear it and can relate to the things that I’m feeling or the experiences that I’m having. Whether its songwriting or Facebook, everything we do in life is fueled by the same desire: the desire to connect. My goals are the same.
And, finally, what else can we expect from you in the near future, and what do you expect from music?
I’m not entirely sure what’s next, but you can expect that I’ll keep making music for a long, long while.