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Emma Langford

IN CONVERSATION WITH: Maggie Rogers

WORDS BY EMMA LANGFORD     PHOTOS BY MANC WANDERER

It is tempting to imagine how Maggie Rogers’ career would have rolled out, had she not found viral fame from Pharrell’s patronage. This student at the Clive Davis Institute had just started incorporating electronica into her folky songwriting when the visiting producer poured lavish praise on her class project, “Alaska.”

It is ironic that a song about a recent personal reclamation (“And I walked off you/And I walked off an old me”) led to a renewed loss of control in Rogers’ life, one that she has likened to a violation, or, in the naturalistic songwriting she prefers, a bout of freak weather. Now in the twisting and turning world of her career, Rogers is meeting the demand for her. Sold out shows popping up all over the globe and a social following that skyrockets on the daily, there’s no stopping her. Luckily for you though, we managed to catch her for a few minutes…

Are you excited for your show?

Yes, I’m super excited. These are the first shows I’m gonna play with my album out and so it’s cool cause it is the first time the audience has the chance to know the words like I’ve been touring for the past two and a half years it feels like I’m throwing a party now.

What’s been your favourite show on the tour so far?

Every night seems to just get better and better but we did get to play Dublin on a Friday night which is just pretty awesome. I was playing my song ‘Falling Water’ and for anyone who doesn’t know this song it is kinda like an intense emotional ballad and some girl got on her friend’s shoulders and took her top off it was proper rock n roll nothing that I’d expect to see.

When did you first realise that you were gonna become a musician?

I think that’s something you decide for yourself. I started writing songs when I was 13/14 but I think I decided I really wanted to be a musician when I was 17.

Which artists did you listen to when you were growing up?

When I was really young I listened to a lot of classical music as my first instrument was the harp. So I listened to lots of Tchaikovsky and Vivaldi. In high school, I got into listening to mid-2000s Indie music Bon Iver, Vampire Weekend and then I discovered Nick Drake and The Talking Heads.

How would you describe your musical development as you are known for your original sound of folk infused with electronic influences?

It has always been about my own experimentation with production cause I feel like I’ve been writing songs the same way since I was thirteen. It’s just like really narrative and me just in my bedroom trying to understand the world and trying to produce them in ways that keep me creatively challenged. So at first it was folk music then I played in a few rock bands and then I was playing bass in a Punk band for a while and did some DJ stuff. On my EP I did some folk – electronic hybrid but now it feels good cause      I feel like I’ve come round to something that feels more true to my background. It’s really nice to have these real instruments back in the mix.

Would you say dance influences your music?

I don’t think so it is just something I do really naturally. I’ve always loved to move and if you don’t move when listening to music I think you’re subconsciously holding yourself back. My favourite type of music is kinda like dancing while crying it is something you can move to and feel to and I think that is what I’m always trying to do with my music. I think in doing that you can give people different ways in.

What would you say ‘Heard It In The Past Life’ is about and why did you decide to call it that?

I had the title before I had anything else. It is mainly about the last two years of my life where I graduated from college and had this transition. Basically, my private life became very public and I became a professional musician straight out of college and there is just a lot of change. When that change happens different people have different ways of dealing with it or explaining it and my way has always just been writing music.

 

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girls to the front . . 📷 @mlownsphotography

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How would you describe your process of making music as a songwriter and as a producer?

It depends what I am creating on if it is on my guitar. Back In My Body happened that way I wrote it on guitar in my childhood bedroom in Maryland then went to the studio that I had in my parent’s barn and sorta decided what I wanted the sonic architecture to look like. But sometimes like ‘Falling Water’ I’ll just start making a beat or making a track on my computer and then write on top of it so it can happen in a couple of different ways but I think no matter what I always go back to guitar and piano where I really check on the structure of the song because the song is the most important thing.

What’s your favourite song on your new album?

It depends on what kinda mood you’re in. I don’t know if I have an answer to that honestly. Falling Water is the song that took the longest but that’s not always a sheer sign. It really taught me to edit in a new way that I hadn’t before and musically I am probably the proudest of it but lyrically I really love Past Life and from a production standpoint I’m really proud of Overnight. If I wanna dance Say It is probably my favourite. I spent a lot of time with the track listing, thinking about the way I wanted the songs to run into each other. I really love the way the record flows.

What made you want to write Alaska? What headspace were you in at that point?

Alaska was the first song I wrote two years after writer’s block and the last thing I had done when I stopped writing was to go on a hiking trip to Alaska the song isn’t really about the place as much as I was processing the things as I was walking in the place.

How was your experience performing on Saturday Night Live?

It was insane. I just walked in and started crying like I was just really overwhelmed that that was even happening. Even you asking me that question I guess I still can’t believe that even happened. I feel like it is in the realm of dreams you don’t say out loud. It is just like crazy. I grew up watching this TV show and I never thought it was a possibility that I could be on it one day. It was really an honour to be a part of that.

Who are your favourite up and coming artists?

I really love Rosalía and Phoebe Bridgers and this band Big Thief the lead singer in that band Adrianne Linker is one of my favourite songwriters. Phoebe is a friend of mine… I don’t know Rosalía but I think her music is amazing.

Are there any artists that you’d like to collaborate with in the future?

I really love James Blake and am constantly drawn in by his production. I’m a giant Brockhampton fan and would love to work with them but I don’t know if they are open to that cause I know they’re such a collective and I have so much admiration for that. I don’t know maybe Dolly Parton if I’m really dreaming I think that’d be cool.

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SINGLE RELEASE: Loyle Carner – ‘Ottolenghi’

WORDS BY EMMA LANGFORD

Loyle Carner brings it back, after 18 months of silence since the release of his album ‘Yesterday’s Gone,’ Carner drops a fresh new track ‘Ottolenghi’ in collaboration with up and coming artist Jordan Rakei from New Zealand. ‘Ottolenghi’ is the story of Carner falling asleep on the train where he is reading Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook ‘Jerusalem’ on the train home and being “asked about the bible [he] was reading.”

The track opens with the sound of a delicate piano, accompanied by a calming synth instantly putting every listener at ease ready to embrace what Carner has in stall. Loyle Carner’s soft honey-like lyrics enter the track shortly joined by the uplifting regular beat of the drums giving the track a classic Carner quirky twist. Rakei’s smooth falsetto vocals complement Carner’s authentic rap lyrics giving the song a distinctive sound.

We are brought back to reality from this dreamscape as the music fades out to a sound sample of a man talking. Gradually we tune into his conversation: ‘so remember what I’m trying to show you, is that this life can be good one minute and it can turn bad, but that’s how life can turn for everybody.’ His motivational speech is drowned out by the rattling of the train leaving the listener wanting more.

The music video, directed by Oscar Hudson, brings Carner’s beautiful track to life taking us through his waking dream on an empty train. We are guided through a montage of real life VSO footage of strangers that Carner recorded on a train journey. The visuals are reminiscent of a vintage camcorder giving the track a rustic feel switching between real life images and Carner in a studio empty train set up. The track and music video blurs the lines between his dream and reality giving his fans everything they love and wouldn’t expect.

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LIVE: Skegss @ The Deaf Institute

WORDS BY EMMA LANGFORD

Skegss performed at The Deaf Institute in Manchester as part of their UK tour for their debut album ‘MY OWN MESS.’ We caught up with them beforehand and they seemed really stoked about the show: “The Deaf Institute is one of our favourite venues alongside playing on Thekla, a venue on boat in Bristol.” Now to the Manchester gig, there’s a huge disco ball in the middle of the dance floor and speakers along the right wall giving the quirky venue a feeling of intimacy.

The audience consisted of an edgy young crowd largely dressed in beanies, baggy tops and converse taking us all back to our youthful indie rock days. Skeggs had amazing stage presence and knew how to please an audience, mixing with their fans before and after the show. Toby, on the bass guitar, was absorbed in the music straight away, he went from calmly sipping a beer to aggressive head banging to their fresh new tunes from their album ‘My OWN MESS.’ They mixed up their set with some of their older classics.

Everyone was singing along to their most notable tunes ‘Got On My Skateboard’ and ‘L.S.D,’ which had the whole crowd moving. ‘Spring Has Sprung’ was a crowd favourite from their EP ‘Holiday Food,’ the bass of the guitar, beat of the drums and Benny’s fresh vocals got everyone moshing. Before they played their track ‘Couch party’ Toby explained it was about him not wanting to go to a party and wanting to chill on the couch with his girlfriend.

 

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@skegss ❤️

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This tune is anything but a relaxed night in on the couch; the drums in this track were upbeat and heavy and Benny’s brisk, rap-rock lyrics brought a new energy to the room.  At the end of the set, lead singer, Benny crowd surfed whilst playing his guitar in true rock n roll style. Skegss undeniably captivated their audience through their authentic tunes and pure love for music, the crowd were committed fans all of them singing along to every song and dancing to every tune.

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IN CONVERSATION WITH: Asiahn Bryant

WORDS BY EMMA LANGFORD       PHOTOS BY CASIE WENDEL

Asiahn is an incredible up and coming R&B artist, she gained recognition as a talented solo artist following the release of her EP ‘Love Train’ in 2017. After the success of her recent single ‘NOLA’, her fans have high hopes for her second album ‘Love Train 2’. Asiahn is not new to the limelight, as a talented songwriter she has penned songs for Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Lopez, Dr Dre and has worked alongside Chris Brown, Pitbull and Iggy Izalea.

Her ability to write for a variety of genres exhibits her well-rounded musical talent. Not only has she had success putting pen to paper but also is an incredible songstress showcasing pure vocals and meaningful lyrics whilst developing her undeniably original style. She is an artist we all must look out for. We were fortunate enough to catch up with her over the phone amid her busy schedule in LA prior to the release of the new album.

Where did your career start and what inspired you to get into music?

Asiahn: I started as an artist at 15, I was touring and opened up for ludrus, TI and Kanye West when I was younger, all kinds of people. So I started off as an artist and would only write for myself then I took a small break for maybe a year or so. At that time I thought I needed to reinvent myself, so because I really enjoyed writing a load of different types of genres that I couldn’t do myself personally as an artist so I started writing for everybody. I’ve written for people from Dr Dre to Miley Cyrus which is a broad spectrum. Being an artist is where my heart is so I felt like I was missing that part and I needed to put out music. My fans were starting to ask where was my music?

Recently you’ve been doing so well your single NOLA has reached 25th spot on the Spotify US charts. Did you expect that song to be so successful?

Asiahn: You know what I didn’t wanna have any expectations in the same way when I first put out my first album ‘Love Train’ which started charting on the London viral charts and I was like… Woah that was so unexpected and I wanted to keep the same thought process for when I put out the next project. If I know that I love it and if feels good to me and something that I believe in and fully stand behind then whatever happens is whatever happens. Here in Los Angles and around the world I feel like we are lacking a lot of love, period. So I knew a lot of people would be able to connect with it anyway so I was hoping that it would do great and it’s doing so awesome so I’m excited.

What was the general message you wanted to send out to people when writing your first album ‘Love Train’?

Asiahn: ‘Love Train’. I can almost call it a series cause ‘Love Train 2’ is coming out. It’s basically the journey through a relationship and love in general. When I was in the club I was hearing a lot of music about not being real with your feelings and I was in a very vulnerable place at the moment where I was recovering from a heartbreak so I was using that EP ‘Love train’ to sing my way through the breakup so it is literally a story from start to finish.

I felt it was very important to be as vulnerable and as candid as possible when making this music because it was the only thing that would help real people. I can’t tell you how many messages I’ve received from people all over: ‘you’ve helped me heal from a heartbreak’, ‘you’ve made me realise I am still in love with my ex and we have gotten engaged’.

 

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on top of the world with @iamasiahn shot on 35mm film 🌎🌟⛰💕 l

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So your first album Love Train was produced by Cardiak, he is a big name in the industry, are you going to have him on board with your new album?

Asiahn: He produced the entire second one as well. We great chemistry together. He is always joking saying are we doing ‘Love Train 3’ or are we gonna forget the train and go somewhere else? I’m like I dunno.

Do you feel like he is someone you will bring along with you on your journey or will you choose a different producer?

Asiahn: He is always someone I will bring along with me on my journey. In my next project, I will probably bring other producers in as well but he will always be included and someone I will always go to first. When you connect with a producer as a songwriter and as an artist and you guys have a vibe that is something that is undeniable and you have to go with it. Sometimes you can’t recreate that magic with other people. I expect the next project after ‘Love Train 2’ to be even crazier.

Where do you see yourself going in the next few years?

Asiahn: Hopefully I’ll be touring all over the world and playing my music for people everywhere. It’s crazy to have a show and everyone to be singing the lyrics back at you that you wrote in your own room by yourself. So that’s my major goal for the next few years. Just to tour and really see the world and get to see the world and to spread some light and love along the way.

Do you have a release date set for your new album or is that still up in the air at the moment?

Asiahn: I have a release date that I selected now I am hoping that they don’t just push that back and we can just drop it when I want to drop it so I can’t give the date out yet until it is confirmed but I will be sure to let you guys know.

Who has been your favourite collaboration?

Asiahn: Ooo you’re gonna get me in trouble. If I had to pick I would say Dr Dre. Only because he is a genius, I got to learn a lot from him and his work ethic and everyone around him. That is where I met Cardiak working on the ‘Compton’ album and it was an overall surreal experience and we are still really tight to this day. It made a big impact on my life.

How amazing is that you got to be on the soundtrack on one of the best movies of all time?

Asiahn: It was crazy and the fact the only track that made it off of the ‘Compton’ album was actually in the movie [Straight Outta Compton] and that was mine I was like holy c**p!

So you can speak fluent French? Would you say the French language influences your music?

Asiahn: Yes I would say it does, I am actually speaking a little French on ‘Love Train 2’ on one of the songs so I think it is important to add in all parts of my culture in my music. I use a lot of influences from French and African culture.

So if you were to tour the world would France definitely be a stop?

Asiahn: It definitely is gonna be a stop, it has to be. I’d have to tour the US, Canada, I’d have to go to London cause London holds me down. When I look through my top countries the UK is second so I have to go and visit the UK.

Do you have any advice for artists trying to break into the music industry?

Asiahn: My advice would be to be yourself study your craft, don’t let anybody change you. Don’t let anybody make you feel like you need to do something else. Also don’t look at someone else’s success and measure yourself against them because everything happens at the right time, you have to stay diligent and passionate about what you do and be 100% authentic and you can always win with that.

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