The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at NYU Tisch School of Arts attracts all kinds of amazing talent. But when Pharrell Williams, the Institute’s 2016 Artist in Residence, encountered student Maggie Rogers in his master class, magic happened. Watch this:
I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed watching someone listen to music more. Maggie has a lovely, peaceful center that makes her dance music amazingly positive and listenable. Even if you’re not paying attention to her lyrics, her music leaves you feeling better. It’s her superpower. And she’s known that music was her thing since she was 13.
“I would always define myself by music — I’ve always been able to know who I am by knowing what I sound like.”
But with her roots in rural-influenced banjo music, it took a semester in France to jolt her into the dance music genre.
“Watching a group of people move in the same way so instinctually was so connective, I realized how instinctive human rhythm is. There’s just a way that feels good.”
Mags, as she is affectionately called by her teacher, relates the fact that she “had to stop making music for a couple of years,” without any further explanation or reaction. Clearly something terribly hard happened to her, but if this brilliant music is what has come out the other side of that, then at least she got something beautiful out of her pain.
And in case you want to hear it again, here’s the final music video for Alaska, the song she played for Pharrell. It’s as visually lovely as the song itself, though not quite as satisfying as watching Pharrell’s expression of awe.