THE MODERN RECORD INTERVIEWS: MAGGIE ROGERS, THE SSE HYDRO, GLASGOW
We chat to the wonderful Maggie Rogers ahead of opening slot in front of 13,000 at Mumford & Sons’s Glasgow SSE Hydro show
1. Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and where you’re from:
I’m from Maryland, about 2 hours south of Washington D.C., I grew up in a really rural area, I started playing the harp when I was 7 and was really into classical music growing up and at the same time my Mom was driving me to these lessons and playing me new soul artists such as Lauren Hill, Outkast. When I was in High School I started playing the banjo, started writing music and producing my own songs and eventually I then went to college at New York University and studied music engineering and music production and when I was in my senior year of College a video of me showing a piece of work went viral on the internet and my life kinda changed and yeah, here we are! I put out an EP in February 2017 and I have a record coming out in January next year called ‘Heard It In A Past Life’
2. What can you tell us about the album, what are fans expecting from it?
Oh! I don’t know what people are expecting! I don’t know what people know what to expect because I’m so new, but I’m so proud of this record and I’m really excited about it, it was important to me that I sorta incorporate more acoustic instruments like piano and guitar. My EP was mostly based on electronic music and synthesisers so I’m really excited that this record feels like… I guess before I used like natural samples from the outdoors to make this like dance music feel a little more like a hybrid and on this record I used more acoustic instruments to still keep me in the middle ground that I love so much.
3. What was your inspiration behind the writing process of this album?
I’ve always thought of the albums as capturing a record of a time period - the EP captures the last four months of my college experience and the record is about everything after it including that viral video moment, the aftermath, putting my first record out, going on tour for the first time… my life changing, it’s all about that.
4. You were recently on Saturday Night Live for your debut TV performance, what was going through your head when you walked onto the stage?
For rehearsal? I walked in and I just started sobbing, like uncontrollably, just starting crying because it’s one of those goals that you don’t say out loud, you know what I mean? You’ve got this thing like you want this to happen but I’m not gonna tell you that ‘cause that’s crazy! The energy in there, it’s just such an honour to be on that stage and the energy in there is really vivid and there’s so much… people feel really reverend in that space. All the cast and crew really honours the process, it’s just really, really cool to be a part of something that’s being created like that every week.
5. You’re currently on tour with Mumford & Sons, how does playing arenas differ from playing smaller venues?
It’s CRAZY! Opening is always a really humbling experience because it’s not your fans, maybe they are or they could be! It’s new and we’re playing in the round so it’s not as if I’m playing a normal arena. there’s people everywhere. I think the most interesting thing is trying to figure out what songs work or what songs like… some songs are built for different venues y’know like I’ve got a song called ‘On/Off’ that’s so fun to play in a club but we’re struggling with it a little bit more here but then songs like ‘Fallingwater’ which don’t always connect in a smaller sweatier space feels SO HUGE and perfect for this kind of space so it’s been interesting to work on our setlist in that kinda way.
6. What’s your favourite song to perform in an arena?
We’ve only done two shows so I’m not sure yet, we’ve been performing a lot of new songs, a lot of this new record I’ve actually made specifically to play live and it’s been really fun!
7. You’re coming back in February for your UK tour, what are you most looking forward to?
It’s just so nice because there’s so many places we’re gonna play that I haven’t played before like I’ve never played a show in Dublin and like a bunch of other spots and I’m so excited that I finally get to be here and y’know when everything happened the first time with the viral video and the EP, there was so much happening I was just really overwhelmed and kinda scared, it feels really good this time to feel ready and feel excited.
8. Where do you see yourself this time next year?
Oh God… I have no idea! *laughs* I think that the biggest thing right now is the fact that I’m being really present and the thing is to for the last two years of my life when I start to get used to something, it all changes again. I think I’m going to feel like a lot has changed when my record comes out and I don’t know what that could sorta possibly be like.
Like the not knowing and it being really exciting?
Yeah! This time next year I’m just gonna feel really happy and really proud of the work I’m doing and hope I’m working on something new because that’s what fuels me more than anything.
9. Finally, what’s your favourite song off the album?
OH… I DON’T KNOW, I DON’T KNOW! It’s interesting because we just got off our headline tour of the US and we played the whole record live and I was just like ‘Fuck it, I don’t wanna wait until January, I wanna play this record and we’re just gonna play the full thing!’ and so like even tonight we’ve decided that we’re switching the setlist because we miss playing certain songs live and y’know I think there’s some logic that says play the set that most fans are gonna know but when you’re opening, you’re just gonna have to play the set that you’re gonna have the most fun playing - we’re not gonna play Alaska tonight, it hasn’t been working in arenas, it feels like it’s not built for this kind of music and also I’m really excited to play new songs so yeah, I’m still figuring it out as I go along.