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How 'Heard It In A Past Life' Is Helping Viral Star Maggie Rogers Reclaim Her Narrative
On Jan. 18, 24-year-old singer/songwriter Maggie Rogers released her debut studio album, Heard It In A Past Life, almost two-and-a-half years since she went viral. By no control of her own, a clip of her blowing GRAMMY-winner Pharrell Williams' mind during a music class at NYU forever changed her life in 2016. Now, in a recent interview, she's sharing how the instant fame shook her and pushed her to take her artistry and story back into her own hands.
In a conversation with The New York Times, Rogers explained how she wasn't ready for the public attention she suddenly received after the video with Pharrell's praise—and priceless expressions of awe on his face over her "Alaska" demo—went viral.
"As a producer, as a songwriter, I've spent a lot of time either in my bedroom or in studios, alone. Suddenly I was in the public eye in this way that I had absolutely no control over. It was really scary," she said.
Getting such genuine praise—he compared her originality and storytelling to that of Wu-Tang Clan and Stevie Wonder—from an industry veteran and icon like Pharrell is something most aspiring musicians can only dream of. Yet the reality of an almost-instant thrust into the spotlight is something few can plan for or even comprehend.
Rogers explains how the pressure she felt from music labels knocking at her door and fighting over representing her was incredibly stressful, but doing her research and taking her time ultimately helped her reclaim her identity. But, after recording and releasing her debut EP on Capitol Music in February 2017, she began to feel drained again during the promotion cycle.
"I became pleasant. The only thing I wanted to do in my music is be human, and communicate all the aspects of that, which often means being vulnerable. Those are the kinds of artists I've looked up to and the kinds of artists I've worked really hard to be like. Being pleasant is great, but it's not the whole picture," Rogers explained.
As a result, she took even more time, almost a year, on her debut LP. As she explained to NYT, she used the process of working on the music and the autobiographical nature of the songs to both heal and retell her story from her point of view. Happily, her label saw this and allowed her the time she needed to flourish.
"It became very clear early on that there was a lot more to her than a viral moment—that she was an artist with a real soul, and something to say, and a modern pop star with a strong female point of view," said Michelle Jubelirer, the Chief Operating Officer of Capitol.
Heard It In A Past Life is now available via Capitol Records.