Speaking with Maggie Rogers before her spellbinding stripped-back set at Gorilla

For our money, one of the greatest voices going at the minute.

Danny Jones Danny Jones - 19th March 2024

Every now and again we’re fortunate enough to get the opportunity not only to see a big name but to experience them in a smaller, more intimate setting for those special one-offs that people go on to talk about for years to come — that’s how we got to see Maggie Rogers at Gorilla on Monday.

Better still, we were incredibly lucky to be offered time to speak with the American singer-songwriter just a couple of hours prior to her all-acoustic set at Gorilla and just before she and her band set off to tour her new album, Don’t Forget Me, which drops next month.

Manchester being the first of these up close and personal pre-album launch shows here in the UK, of which she listed just four, it’s always an honour to be picked for the start or the end of an album cycle but it was immediately clear she had a lot of love for our city.

Arriving in 0161 on Sunday just in time for the Paddy’s Day chaos and to watch the FA Cup final between Man United and Liverpool in a local pub, our conversation started with simply: “That game!”

The interview

After meeting and greeting the line of people already queuing up for the 500-cap Gorilla show, we walked backstage for what ended up being a laid-back chat about live music, relaxing into herself as an artist and an album process that was recorded in a whirlwind five days.


Touching on the upcoming third album and that beautiful title track, Maggie said, “It feels like coming home. In a lot of ways, it’s like a return to a lot of the style of songwriting and production and arrangement that really got me into music in this place when I was like 16/17.

“It just feels really relaxed and my friends keep saying that it sounds like the version of me that they know. I think, after doing this for quite a while, I’m finally relaxing into it.


“I think it’s always been authentic but I think music sort of takes some of the most sensitive and intense people and puts them in really high-intensity situations… It’s not even that I wasn’t being authentic before, I think it’s just that my guard was a little bit up yeah. I was a little scared — I still am, you know, but I think that’s normal.”

You can hear all of that in this first single:

How her sound is evolving

Describing how it felt her last LP Surrender had the punchiest and most contemporary rock approach of her music to date, we then moved on to where her style is at currently and the difference between the studio listening experience and live performance.


“I mean, my undergrad was in production engineering but that record was really designed to be played live, especially in a time like the pandemic, where all I was thinking about was coming back to touring and really missing it.

“I got really into British rock and, at least during the Surrender era, I was like fully like in Oasis mode, but you guys are responsible for some of the best music and pop culture.”

Chuffed that she dropped in the Burnage boys so early in the conversation, she went on to say that although she was “discovered in a moment of experimentation” — that old Pharrell meme (yes, that is her if you’ve never put two and two together), her “songwriting has always been the same at the centre.”

“What I love about making albums is the world-building part of it, and I’ve just gotten to build different worlds. I always think about where the albums are designed to be listened to and Heard It in a Past Life was really designed for headphones, Surrender was really designed for stage and this is really designed for a car — like a Sunday afternoon drive”.

As she puts it, the debut was lots of synths, the sophomore was “drums and distortion” and the star of Don’t Forget Me is the acoustic guitar. “There’s definitely different forms of energy”, she said, adding: “but this is more on the stripped side and the whole record was kind of designed as a live album. Almost everything was a first take and this record was made in five days”. Some achievement in its own right.

maggie rogers don't forget me live in manchester
Credit: Maggie Rogers

Having the most fun on stage

After touching on that internet moment from back in 2016, we then talked about how seeing her for the first time at Victoria Warehouse back in November 2022 (which she described as “so sick” and one of her favourite venues here in Manchester) was the real ‘wow’ moment for us and realising just important it is to see her live. Maggie puts a lot of it down to the band.

“I think that on stage what I love is that it’s different every night. I’ve worked really hard to be excellent at something that I really love and I get to play with some of the best musicians around and my band is just so f***ing talented.”

“It’s sort of like I hope the audience is having a good time too but also if they’re not I’m just having a really good time anyway.” She definitely was too; jumping ahead a little bit, one of our favourite moments from the gig was when she stopped between songs to laugh and say, “I just love playing music”.

She said similar about the creative process this time around too. Although there’s a lengthy newsletter post describing how the album came to be on her Instagram, she summed up it by saying, “Creativity, often comes from some of the most essential and sometimes childish or playful senses.

“Like, it’s called playing music and I think keeping that like sense of playfulness alive is so inherent to keeping my creativity alive, and in the studio making this record I was just having so much fun and was just feeling really playful, so we sort of made a record by not trying to make a record.”


Again, you could see that “contagious joy” she talked about written on her face and everyone else’s.

The show

Moving on to the show itself, Maggie said she was most looking forward to playing the likes of ‘Drunk’ which they’ve been doing live for a while now, as well as a track she called “devastating” with just the keys and a guitar entitled, ‘The Kill’ — and she wasn’t lying.

She set up the song by promising “It’s such a jam” with a full band but the stripped-back version fittingly killed us off in the crowd and the same could be said for a lot of the versions we heard on the night. From ‘Begging for Rain’ to an almost ethereal take on ‘Alaska’, you really get to appreciate just how incredible her voice is in this kind of scenario.

Bigging up British and Manchester crowds in particular because we “know culture and [we] care”, insisting, “It’s crazy how important those two things are”, her audience certainly lived up to the billing. She said there’s no “half-assing” it with us and she was right. We were emotional and so was she.

The set naturally closed with ‘Don’t Forget Me and a few teary faces (we didn’t dare film that moment as we wanted to be present) but nothing summed up the night better than when the Manc Maggie fans pretty much turned Gorilla into a congregation for ‘That’s Where I Am’, perfectly harmonising and clapping like a gospel choir.


We’re already looking back on the show and thinking of it as going down as one of those ‘I was there’ moments and we think we speak for everyone when they say they won’t forget the time they saw Maggie Rogers at Gorilla with nothing more than a guitar and her piano player — also incredible, by the way.

Don’t Forget Me releases on Friday, 12 April and we already can’t wait to hear not only how the rest of it sounds but how the tracks we heard sound fully-fledged.

‘That’s Where I Am’ – Maggie Rogers, live at Gorilla (Credit: The Manc Audio)

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Featured Images — The Manc Group/Press Image (supplied)