Maggie Rogers has grown accustomed to fielding questions about Pharrell Williams. “It’s where the story starts, so it makes a lot of sense that people ask,” she concedes, as she tries to contain a yawn. As “the story” goes: The Grammy-winning multi-hyphenate launched her career seemingly overnight when a video of him listening to her catchy folk-meets-synth-pop song “Alaska” — and promptly bursting into heartfelt tears — went viral last spring.
Some millions of views later, the singer-songwriter-producer, a double major in recorded music and English literature at New York University at the time, is still trying to make sense of it all. “I just showed up for school…I didn’t know Pharrell was going to be there, that it would be filmed or that it would go on the Internet,” says Rogers, raised ironically in a Wi-Fi-less household, of the fateful day that Williams led a master class.
Shortly after the video’s release — and a mere few weeks after graduation — she signed a deal with Capitol Records. The 22-year-old, who released her EP “Now That the Light Is Fading” in February and played an impressive six shows during SXSW, admits, “I think I keep waiting for this to go away, not that I want it to. It just happened so quickly, and I think it’s sort of easy come, easy go.” Fleeting fame or not, she swears, “I’ll make music no matter what.”
PROVENANCE: “I grew up on the eastern shore of Maryland near Chesapeake Bay,” says the New York transplant, who has been mulling over a move to Los Angeles. Although the outdoor enthusiast, who has been known to add nature sounds to her songs, remains open: “Austin’s a good option, too.”
BIG BREAK: Her song “Alaska” has racked up more than 26 million global streams to date on Spotify. Plus, the multi-instrumentalist just made her television debut on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” But her favorite first involves fashion. “It’s pretty crazy that my first photo shoot ever was with Vogue in July,” marvels the “pretty funky” dresser, who counts Issey Miyake, Gucci, Proenza Schouler, and Libertine as some of her favorite designers.
BEYOND THE HYPE: “I wrote this entire EP in college before anything happened, so it wasn’t like “Alaska” blew up, and I was like, ‘Oh s–t!’” says Rogers, who has synesthesia, which allows her to associate colors with sounds. In fact, the musician already had two albums under her belt on her own label: 2014’s “Blood Ballet” and 2012’s “The Echo.”
STAGE STYLE: She performed at SXSW in a sparkly white denim suit she created with Christian Joy, the designer behind the out-there ensembles of Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
MUSIC IDOLS: Björk and Beck made the cut because “they’re defined more by their creative minds, and production and instinct, than they are a genre or a look, and I really, really admire that,” she says.
TRAVEL COMPANION: “I travel everywhere with a sleeping bag, so I have the ability to sleep in green rooms, and it’s like a nest. It’s a very comfortable space. It’s nice on planes, too,” she says.
UP NEXT: She launched her North American tour in March and will also play a slew of international summer festivals, including Fuji Rock in Japan, Osheaga in Canada, Latitude in the U.K., and Melt in Germany. She is also working on a full-length album – just as soon as she finds some alone time to write.
PARTY BUS: “I have a tour bus. I think it’s pretty basic, but it’s mine,” she says in between giddy giggles. “I think I take things pretty seriously so I have to remind myself that you can be silly, and I can have one too many beers tonight if I want to, and just like kind of enjoy it.”