Find me a success story worth pouring over and it would have to be this one, hands down. As any upcoming artist or music student would know, it is imperative to keep your craft fresh and jump at any opportunity to make something happen. It’s that new creative element or modern revival of old sounds that really catches the attention of listeners; combine that with an emotional pull, and you have yourself a hit.
You probably have a track in your mind – one that has absolutely been thrashed on repeat, and you know it better than the back of your hand. For most of the world, it has been the very swift arrival of Maggie Rogers where this exact circumstance has played out. Discovered during a Masterclass at NYU, which are exactly what dreams are made of, Rogers’ most impressive quality was her complete absorption of her craft. Whilst every musician under the sun has a core purpose behind their output, “Alaska” seems to resonate even with the biggest representatives of the music industry.
Listen: “Alaska” – Maggie Rogers
“Alaska” doesn’t fit any kind of mold; its pop-electronic-folk sound is peppy and uplifting whilst portraying heavier connotations. It’s literally a breath of fresh air, and demands reflection of a grateful kind. Rogers has produced a fabrication of sounds that work in a care-free manner, based upon themes that once completely contradicted one another in everyday life. In the early roots of Jazz and Classical music, influences of pastoral and city themes never quite merged blissfully until pioneers broke the boundaries. Whilst “Alaska” isn’t the first to combine these themes, it’s the meaning behind these that encapsulates the addictive qualities of this track. The pastoral roots are embedded within Rogers’ first experiences of music being primarily folk, and the dance vibe echoes a time in Rogers’ life where she found release within more ‘synthetic’ experiences.
The song’s recently-release music video is pivotal to reliving the experiences and strengthening the inspirations for the track. It’s a wonderfully enlightening experience to hear the audio and watch the visual.
Watch: “Alaska” – Maggie Rogers
The video clip can be described as an evolution on many different levels. There is a severe amount of purpose ingrained within every shot which is combined with a very organic character. The story unfolding shows a progression on not just an emotional level, but also foreshadows the success that will be Rogers’ career. In Rogers’ own words, the video clip is an augmentation of her own reality. The walk Rogers embarks upon during the video is her favorite passage from home; never before did she expect it to lead her towards her ultimate career, centered around music.
You’ll also notice that the video clip has been produced and executed primarily with a team of females. It’s very clear throughout the video that a common theme along the lines of ‘strength in numbers’ is highly prevalent. It’s evident that the director and Rogers had a very similar artistic vision, and have executed this with immaculate precision and sensitivity towards female empowerment.
With regard to lyrical content, there is a reliance upon using natural environments as a means for describing the escape from what seemed like an impossible situation. Whether this mirrors Rogers’ attempts to break free from folk music and what that genre represented during a particular time in her life is an unanswered question.
And I walked off you
And I walked off an old me
Oh me oh my I thought it was a dream
So it seemed
Breath, especially that which depicts the space between two individuals, can sometimes seem suffocating, but “Alaska” makes it feel invigorating. Ironically as Rogers becomes more carefree in the video clip, she progresses towards scenes which channel dance music and everything that entails. Breath represents not only the distance from her past life, but also the revival and maintenance of her new life, with the inclusion of dance music.
And now, breathe deep
You and I, there’s air in between
Leave me be
You and I, there’s air in between
There is a warm, charismatic presence about Maggie Rogers. Whilst her story is nothing short of idealistic, her craft really does seduce audiences from the minute they hear “Alaska.” Perhaps the most exciting prospect is watching her future musical endeavors start to unfold, piecing together the journey embarked upon from the start of the video clip towards a very successful end.
cover photo: Maggie Rogers © 2016