Foto-© Olivia Bee

Maggie Rogers meldet sich an einem eindrucksvollen Karrieredurchbruch vor ein paar Jahren nach einer längeren Pause mit ihrem zweiten Album Surrender zurück. In einem sehr emotionalen Gespräch geht es um die positive Bedeutung des Titels, Late Twenties-Realisationen und wieso es gerade jetzt so wichtig ist, die kleinen Dinge im Leben zu zelebrieren.

Maggie, I looove your new album! And also love the title and the whole feeling, because surrender always was a very deeply negative connotated word. But now that I listened to your music and also observed my own development, I see that there’s a really positive ring to it.
That’s one of the things I’m trying to make sure everyone knows, that this is a really good thing. It’s about feeling right. Just about trying to be in a state of full existence. It’s about feeling everything. I’ve felt so numb for so long in the pandemic, but so much of this record was just about trying to get back to a state of feeling. I wanted something I could feel physically. I wanted something that would remind me of playing live, because that was something I could look forward to, finding a sense of hope.

So much of the record is about joy and anger, which feels like two sides of the same coin. They’re these emotions that just fill you up. And ask you to be completely present and things you feel in your teeth and in your hands. And to me, those feelings are such a part of living fully. Sometimes we try and tamper ourselves or slow it down, but I think embracing just the idea of getting to exist, and doing that as much as one possibly can – that was really inspiring to me, and also just the reality of what was going on. I was having these massive, long periods of numbness and then massive waves of feeling which sort of still kind of happens as we’re coming out of all of this.

Surrender also means to be brave and that way to let loose and fully live it like you say it, not hold back because you think: Oh, what will happen? What will other people think?
It is like learning that you can survive it. There is something about not being afraid of your own human nature and embracing the intensity of what it means to be alive. As a way, I think that joy can be a form of rebellion in a time where systems of oppression feel like they are in every corner.

You had this title in your mind for a very long time, right?
I knew it would be called Surrender in the summer of 2019. But Heard it in a Past Life was the same way. I challenged it over and over again, the whole time I was making a record. I was like: Am I really going to do this? Is it too self serious? Is this really what it’s called? I tried on different names and just nothing felt right. It felt like the decision was made so long ago, that I just surrendered and I had to call it Surrender. There were a lot of lessons about making this record of just me, sort of getting halfway through the process and then being like: Fuck, I brought this on myself! I have to surrender!

And you even named your thesis S. So it’s a full circle moment.
It‘s not just an art project. It’s a way of being. When I was in school, I was thinking about what it means to be an artist. And how I define that. I’m sure that definition will continue to change and grow as well. But I largely think that it’s the job of an artist to feel everything they can and report back. That’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about. Specifically as I’m 28 now and thinking about being an artist for a lifetime. What’s the practice I want to hold around making art, it really is a practice of being present. And I also think art is caring. I just really care. It’s about the intention you put into something and I love the detail.

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For me, Heard It in a Past Life is a really important record. It felt like the safety net I could fell into when I was totally heartbroken and didn’t know where I should go. That was caring for me, too. And now, Surrender feels like this hand that pulls you out of this net and gently pushes you into a to better future.
Thank you so much for telling me, that means so much! I think that was so much of it. I’m finding myself getting emotional talking about it, I’m just wanting so badly to be okay. And this record was the thing in the pandemic that I could escape to, and a place where I could really believe that there was something else. I was shocked when I heard how joyful it sounds. But I think it’s because the joy was really hard won. There was so much anger and heartache in it. And I think you can hear that in the tension in the record, that it was an incredibly intense time in my life. I feel so much better now that it’s outside of my body. There was so much inner struggle, that now, I feel a sense of freedom. Having this externalized , like a snake shedding it’s skin off.

I learned in therapy recently that I have to go through the feeling and not ignore it or dance around it.
Yeah, I had to go through it. I learned that I spent so much time and energy fighting feeling because I thought that it was too much to handle. And then the pandemic, you couldn’t do this vacuum. You couldn’t feel it all the time. You would have gone crazy. You had to protect yourself but I also have found the moments where I could just let go and become a feral animal to the emotions and just let them move through the past much faster. And not that it being fast is the metric of success either, I just found there was so many times where I just needed to get it out.

Foto-© Quil Lemons
Foto-© Quil Lemons

Because when these feelings stick with you for so long and you don’t actually acknowledge them…
I think you can also hear that in the vocals on the record , there is so much of it. A lot of them are just one take. They’re just me opening my mouth and needing to feel sound fill up the whole thing, just being it sort of sounds, like I’m yelling sometimes but all was so important for me in that time.

Oh, you can. But for me, this is exactly what I need. What brings me further into my feelings and works through it, because otherwise, when it’s too polished and everything, I can’t do it anymore. I cannot connect to the music in the same way.
Wow, that’s exactly it! I feel that way too. I’m having a really hard time listening to music with lyrics right now. Not because I think it’s music’s fault. I’m sure there’s some great music that I’m not finding. Just everything does feel really polished and I’m having a hard time connecting to it exactly. I’m only listening to instrumental jazz, because I don’t have space for anyone else’s feelings right now.

Maggie, I wonder what brings you feral joy.
What brings me feral joy? I think a lot about sensuality, different than sexuality. Sensuality is deep. It comes from within. It’s a way of being in a relationship to the world. And I think that, again, as almost an act of rebellion. When I think about what brings me feral joy, it’s usually something in the world of sensuality. Nice candles, good wine, old friends. Sun, saltwater, these things that just feel like it being four o’clock and having been in the sun, feeling a little bit of sweat down my neck and there’s a bowl of cherries and a friend is there, we’re going to smoke cigarettes and drink a bottle of wine and make pasta.

Very warm and comforting.
And alive. I think that there’s been so much death. That just being able to celebrate the parts of being alive while we’re here. I don’t know what else to do with it.

I love the evolution from a big mess of little joy to feral joy.
I never made that connection. I wrote that when I was 18.

I listened back to Blood Ballett and was like: Oh, I sense a connection here.
That’s, 10 years of growth. Wow, that’s really cool.

I definitely need a feral joy tattoo. It speaks to me.
Well, because it’s about the feral part, it’s about your inner animal. So don’t be ashamed to be as much as possible. There is actually nothing else like finding joy in this time. It’s the greatest expression of being alive. And I think there’s also so many systems designed to make us feel like we can’t feel joy or we can’t have pleasure in the way that we want each individually.

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You can really celebrate your little achievements. Before the pandemic I was living from high to high and in the middle of that I was feeling very down.
Totally. I never had this middle where I could say: wow, look, things are just lovely. I feel exactly the same way. Maybe that’s also getting older. I don’t know. what part of this is a revelation what part of it is just maturity?

I’m the same age as you, I get it.
Every time you discover something new you’re like, I’m the first person ever to feel this. Nah, bitch, you’re 28, shut up.

Because you’re doing less but it’s more intense. I can‘t just live through this non stop anymore. I have to figure it out first.
I think I’m just trying to steady out or balance out. It’s funny because we’re talking about balance but we’re also talking about these extreme feelings. And I think that they’re all in service of being in the flow of something, of just letting things come as they come and trusting where you’re being pulled, or how you’re feeling and letting yourself feel these things.

Whether it’s just letting a meal be a little slower, so that you can remember that sensuality, right? You have to slow it down so that you can really feel it. If a meal is a little slower, maybe you notice what it tastes like. That feels really important.

And I think also this living on our highest, it’s kind of nothing, you’re happy and everything is good, but I just don’t believe it. I don’t buy it. I’ve had moments at times like that, but it almost feels a little ungrounded – everything can’t just be amazing forever. And you start to wonder when you’re going to come down because that has to happen.

That’s what I found so interesting looking at your career. It went absolutely crazy. And instead of releasing a second album super quickly, you took a step back. I see that with more and more artists our age. Taking time to ground yourself.
I think it’s getting to be a person. But I feel people are operating from a scarcity mindset. I realized I don’t need to be bigger and better, I have enough. I have so much, more than enough. And I think that shift gave me so much freedom and power in my career. My career is so much bigger and crazier than I ever imagined. I never thought I would play the Sydney Opera House or Radio City or go to the Grammys or any of that stuff. Once I had the opportunity to do that stuff, I was just like: Cool, I’m good, now I can just make stuff that makes me happy.

I always made what I loved and made what felt true, but I think there was almost a new level of freedom where I realized: I don’t have to do that thing, if I don’t want to. Again, I never know what part of this stuff is unique to me and what part is just being in your late 20s.

A lot of people don’t have this mindset.
They’re taught you have to, it’s bigger and better and more and whatever. And it’s for what?

And we’re 28. It’s not we’re 90. There is so much more time to do things. Let’s pause for a moment.
It’s defining how to live a beautiful life and what that means to you. And I don’t know, if people like this record: great! But I don’t know specifically if a bigger career is the key to living a beautiful life – for me it’s spending an extra $10 to get the nice bottle wine. That feels luxury and abundance to me and it’s way more in the tiny moments and trying to make those as nice as possible. For me, it’s wearing bangles today, having a little jingle on my wrist.

Maggie Rogers Tour:
21.11.22 Berlin, Huxleys Neue Welt
22.11.22 Köln, Live Music Hall
23.11.22 Hamburg, Fabrik

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