In the Woods with Maggie Rogers

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A version of this story appeared in the fall 2019 problem of Uncommon Path. 

Maggie Rogers is listening to glaciers—not just in the symbolic sense, heeding the planetary message their movement represents, but in fact listening to the hollow sound of glaciers moving. In reality, she has sampled that sound and other all-natural noises (croaky frogs, the patter of rain) underneath the electronic beats of her self-described dance music.

Even though Rogers, 25, appreciates the pace and noise of New York City, exactly where she attended New York University and lived for six years, she’s also drawn to the tranquility of her parents’ barn in Maryland, exactly where she recorded lots of of the songs she wrote and made for her wildly profitable debut album, Heard It in a Previous Life.

Right here, she riffs on how her experiences outdoors inspire her music.

Illustration of Maggie Rogers

Illustration by Jordan Carter

On nature’s potential to deliver point of view and an oasis for a busy life:

“One of the most effective approaches I can locate space and time is when I’m in a quiet, lovely location. I locate that I’m frequently genuinely overstimulated, and if I can locate my way to nature, irrespective of whether I’m in Ohio or Australia or Los Angeles, even if it is just for an hour, it permits me to shut down and shut off and come back to my true priorities.”

“Being outdoors tends to make me really feel so substantially like myself. When I took a NOLS [National Outdoor Leadership School] backpacking course in Alaska, I just recall becoming a week in and crying due to the fact I was so delighted. Most not too long ago, my quantity 1 go-to when I’m on tour and I have an off day is I rent a vehicle or a motorcycle. Lately, we had an off day in Eugene, and I drove out to the coast in Oregon and it was unbelievable, and I had the most effective drive and the most effective day.

On summer time camp fostering her adore of music:

“I grew up going to a seven-week overnight all-girls camp in Maine named Wohelo. There’s no electrical energy, and there’s a true powerful emphasis on the outdoors and self-sufficiency. It constantly felt like a genuinely protected space. I began writing songs when I was in middle college, but I would in no way carry out them due to the fact middle college is terrifying. But at camp, I felt protected to share my music, and I had a lot of pals who saw the beauty in me becoming me.”

“Also, everybody was constantly singing all the time. ‘Color Song’ [which Rogers now sometimes uses to great effect to close her concerts] is sung at council fire on Monday nights. The complete camp types a circle in the woods at the finish of the ceremony, which is essentially entirely in the dark and a hundred girls sing this song a cappella collectively.”

On her go-to piece of gear whilst touring:

“I’ve began traveling with a candle. I’ve had to unlearn a lot of issues as I’ve been on tour due to the fact I’ve spent a lot of time undertaking super lightweight, lengthy-distance backpacking. When I initially began touring, I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to bring minimal issues.’ I was treating it like backpacking. The reality of touring is that I’m not going out for two or 3 weeks. It is not a short-term state of thoughts I in fact reside on the road. I’ve had to find out how to give myself permission in fact to take much more issues. You would in no way bring a candle in the backcountry. But when I’m in a distinctive hotel area each evening, it really is one thing that tends to make it really feel like dwelling.”

On creating space for time outdoors to make excellent art:

“As a songwriter or any type of artist, you are continuously possessing this sort of existential conversation about existence and emotion and attempting to comprehend your expertise as a human. And nature shows that every little thing is interconnected, and it delivers a holistic, peaceful view on life. [In the music business] there’s such a level of urgency. But the reality is, a profession is created by excellent art, and the only way excellent art takes place is if you make space for it. Anytime I am in nature, I really feel genuinely connected to that sense of goal.”

Interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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