On Sunday night, Maggie Rogers graced the GRAMMY Museum in L.A. Live with an intimate conversation and performance.
The near two-hour program provided Rogers’ fans an open, honest space to connect with everything she has to offer, from insights on her music-making process to a stripped-down performance of her song “Alaska.”
The 25-year-old NYU alumna and self-proclaimed “pop star” (humorously and ironically, of course) spoke about her songwriting from a genuine vulnerability that brews the kind of confidence that arrogant people can only dream of having.
With her career notoriously launching from a YouTube video of Pharrell reacting to her piece, Rogers spoke about finding her voice and curating her own space without too much input from others. In other words, her evening at the GRAMMY Museum cleared up any confusion: What Rogers puts into the world, Rogers creates. And she puts her whole heart into it.
Toward the end of the program, Rogers performed the song from the infamous Pharrell video, “Alaska.” But, rather than playing with all the layered production, she played it as she wrote it in her dorm room: With nothing but her voice and a guitar. A classic singer-songwriter, Rogers explained that her rhythm and her physical voice took her longer to find than the tone and art she wanted to create.
Bringing out her guitarist for “Burning,” “Say It,” and “Light On,” Maggie was able to immerse herself fully in her lyrics. Rogers, ever the detail oriented creator, clarified earlier in the night that songwriting to her is always more about the lyrics.
“It’s just as much about the levels of the bass that transcend the song … that share the message and create the story you’re trying to tell,” Rogers said.
Rogers dances as if the music is inside her. Which, it kind of is. Her dancing has become a language to her team, she explains. When in the studio, if she moves her elbow a certain way when dancing, it signals to the producer that she feels a snare drum on that beat.
Both her conversation and her performance make one thing clear: Rogers is an artist for the streaming era. In a new wave of music, she aims to be an amalgamation of any and every genre that has existed before her. Tying her love of dance and punk music from her time in New York to her banjo-playing folk roots, she states her desire to make music that you can “dance to while crying.”
Rogers’ glaring honesty is representative of many artists today. Billie Eilish, Lizzo and Mumford & Sons (all artists Rogers considers industry peers as well as personal friends) shine when vulnerable.
“When telling a story to a friend, your mom or your therapist, you have a specific story,” Rogers said. “But you can’t lie when singing.”
Rogers’ night at the Museum illustrated her life. Music is clearly a huge part of everything she stands for, and she’s protective of the music she creates.
Deliberate and thoughtful, she puts it like this: She’s just a recent college grad acclimating to a new career. And, like every other young new member of the workforce, she wants to prove herself and do her job well.
Rogers will perform Thursday at 8 p.m. at the Greek Theatre.