Imagine you’re a music student at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute and Pharrell Williams is coming to teach a masterclass on songwriting. You’ve written a couple bangers or whatever, being a music student and all, but you’re nervous nonetheless. This is likely your only opportunity to have a famous and incredibly successful musician critique your work. What if he cuts it to pieces? What if he kinda likes it except for the one part that also happens to be your favorite part. What if he really likes it and then nothing in your life ever compares to the thrill of celebrity endorsement ever again? Is that the best outcome you can hope for?
No, the best outcome would be Pharrell’s stunned, appreciative silence going viral and launching your career. Such is the story of Maggie Rogers, internet sensation and pride of NYU, whose song “Alaska” struck Pharrell speechless this past February. We were speechless too, and that is why she is our Artist of the Month. The track is relatively sparse, stacking harmonies atop a phat beat and melodic accompaniment, like if St. Vincent or tUnE-yArDs got out of their own way for one Goddamn second and just wrote what people wanted to hear. Pharrell called Rogers’ sound “singular” which, frankly, couldn’t be more descriptive, “I’ve never heard anything that sounds like that. That’s a drug for me.” Thanks, Pharrell.
The song is poised to be a major summer jam, combining an infectious groove and stunning, polyphonic melody with the internet momentum required for off-brand success. Rogers has already aligned with Brooklyn’s Mick Management (home to Real Estate and Leon Bridges, among others) in an effort to field the snowballing array of label interest, but remember: Rogers was just another person a few months ago, nobody, Pitchfork or even ATYPICAL SOUNDS, would blink twice at. She moved back home with her parents after graduation. She’s going on a postgrad Euro-trip this month. “I’m taking it a day at a time,” she says. “I’m excited to see what the world looks like when I get back in July, but it will probably pretty much look like me living in my childhood bedroom and my mom telling me to do the dishes.”
Are you fucking kidding me? You gotta go ride that wave, girl!
Rogers’ new EP is allegedly finished, but she’s waiting for “Alaska” to play out before releasing it. This could be good–I mean you don’t wanna get all your fame all at once now do you–but it could also be quite stupid, waiting for momentum to fade before capitalizing on it. Don’t you know how this works, Maggie?! This is the internet we’re talking about here, people have clinical deficits of attention. Strike while the iron is hot! Like, what if Zeppelin waited a whole year before albums 1 & 2? Do you wanna last forever or do you wanna blow people’s minds?!
Were I on Pharrell’s (and everybody else’s) radar, you can bet I’d be real in-your-face about it. Call into the radio offering an impromptu live interview. Get my publicist in talks with Conan’s people (after, you know, getting a publicist). Rent Manhattan billboard space for my PG-13 spread. Is skywriting still a thing? What about t-shirt cannons, are they legal in the city? Can Fun-Dip do a custom batch for my single release? “Taste the sweetest track of the summer with Fun-Dip! Prices and participation may vary.”
But maybe that’s why she’s blowing up instead of me; she’s got patience (and also musical talent and a fantastic singing voice). I just hope she doesn’t wait too long, else she finds the internet and broader musical community less forbearing than Pharrell and myself.