Destiny Rogers may be an upcoming R&B act, but she has all the polish of a seasoned veteran. Considering Rogers has previous experience working with The Stereotypes, a songwriting and production team that has credits for the likes of Cardi B, Bruno Mars, and others, this should come as no surprise.
What I'm telling you is: at 19, the Lodi-born and LA-based Rogers is entering the solo game as a pro. She's dedicated half her life to creating and learning guitar off Justin Bieber music videos. Oh, and she skateboards. What's not to love?
“I got into music when I was ten years old, that's when I started playing guitar and singing,” Rogers tells me over the phone. “I started playing guitar by watching Justin Bieber's music videos. I just copied his fingers, and I copied the way he strummed, and I taught myself how to play guitar—singing just happened shortly after that. As I'm watching Justin's videos, I got mad inspired. I knew this was my passion, for sure.”
With that, Destiny Rogers' debut EP, Tomboy, released this past spring, is a triumph in confidence and identity. The titular single boasts relatable gumption as Rogers reiterates that she doesn't need a rich man—she is that rich man.
Rogers makes bubbling music meant to be consumed by everyone from tweens to adults looking for their next groove fix. The songwriting on Tomboy is smart and welcoming, with Rogers sounding like R&B's playful Raymond Carver, the way she reports each image and setting in a matter-of-fact style.
Take “Strong Ones,” a personal favorite off Tomboy. Rogers wrote the song at 17 while facing an endless storm of family problems. Though she weathered her pain and frustration, she managed to capture the fine details of her struggle and bring them to the universal playground without drowning in sentiment.
“Strong Ones” has all the power of “Tomboy,” which is impressive considering the single is one of the biggest upcoming R&B smashes of the year, boasting over a million views on YouTube alone. When it came time to follow up the single with a project, though, Destiny assures me that she felt no pressure.
“I just believe in myself,” Rogers says of her wellspring of confidence. “I want my confidence to rub off on my fans so people can get inspired by that and have that same confidence.” If she can deliver 10 more “Tomboy”-like tracks on a full-length project, Destiny Rogers has it in her to be the voice of a generation. We’ll be listening.
Our conversation, lightly edited for content and clarity, follows below.
DJBooth: Talk to me about the first time you realized the power of music.
Destiny Rogers: I got into music when I was ten years old, that's when I started playing guitar and singing. I started playing guitar by watching Justin Bieber's music videos. I just copied his fingers, and I copied the way he strummed, and I taught myself how to play guitar—singing just happened shortly after that. As I'm watching Justin’s videos, I got mad inspired. I knew this was my passion. I started taking it seriously when I was 12, performing locally at coffee shops, and I had my own YouTube channel. I started getting positive feedback, like this should be my calling. I started realizing I was touching people with my music, making them smile. That was a great feeling.
How did your family influence your early music tastes and style?
My dad, he's a musician as well. He's a worship leader. He plays piano and drums. I had music in the house, growing up. I was always around music—my mom is Mexican, so she would always play Spanish music. So, church and Mexican music [laughs].
I'm happy you mentioned your heritage because you ended an interview with, “I just want the world to know I'm half-Mexican and can sing in Spanish.” Why was that important for you to share?
I feel like every time I tell someone I'm a Latina, they're like, “Oh, crap! I didn't know that.” It's cool that I laid it out there because I want people to know that I'm half-Mexican and I have more to me… I think it's important that they know that I can reach Mexico and Chile and Spain, and I want to connect with my Spanish fans.
Talk to me about your work with The Stereotypes.
I got to meet The Stereotypes when I was 17. We just worked together because they thought I was talented. It was my first time working with producers and songwriters; we started making records in sessions. I was living in Lodi, so I was driving from Lodi to LA—that's about a five-hour drive. I would stay out here, work with them once a month, every month, and we started making a lot of records. Finally, we started developing a friendship. I ended up signing with them in February 2018, and then I signed with RCA in November 2018.
Now, I want to ask about skating. I used to skateboard and found it to be a massive creative outlet. Do you work skating into your music process somehow?
Skating is that outlet for me when I'm stressed or upset. I can go skate, and it takes all my worries away. I turn to skating if I'm having a brain fart. When I'm by myself, I get stressed out if something isn't working the way I want it to. So, I gotta go skate. I go skate in my front yard, and I have an elementary school around the corner. I'd skate in the parking lot. Just get all the stress out and clear my head. When I'm done, I'll go back to my room and start fresh.
Talk to me about the debut EP. Did you feel any pressure after the success of “Tomboy”?
Honestly, I didn't! I didn't feel any pressure. “Tomboy” was the first single, and all the followers loved it. When they gave me that feedback, I knew they were gonna love the EP. When I dropped it, it was cool to see everyone loving the EP as much as the single. That was super dope. It wasn't a lot of pressure. It was mainly excitement and adrenaline to get my first project out.
Where does your confidence come from?
I don't know where it comes from; I believe in myself. I believe that this is my calling. I believe in myself, and I want my confidence to rub off on my fans so people can get inspired by that and have that same confidence.
What's your favorite song on the project, and how did you go about writing it?
I have a couple. Besides “Tomboy,” it would be “North$ide” and “Strong Ones.” “Strong Ones” is a record I wrote when I was 17, with the Stereotypes. That was about me. I was going through a lot of different things. My niece was getting bullied; my mom had health issues and financial issues. There was so much going on that I tried to be there for every problem, and I would put myself out there to help people. Mentally, I was drained, and I was like, “Yo, when is anyone gonna ask me when I'm good?” I was doing bad. It's always the strong ones that need help the most.
Now that your star is rising, what are you afraid of?
The only thing I'm afraid of is I know I'mma be super busy all the time, and I've seen other artists get into a depression. Mental health is so important to me, and I try to stay positive all the time. I'm just kind of afraid of getting into a depression where I'm not happy making music anymore. I can't see myself feeling that way now, but I've seen it happen to other artists before.
How would you beat that burn out?
Just surrounding myself with my friends and my family. I have a good head on my shoulders; I have a great family, great friends. As long as I keep them close, I should be good.
In an era where everyone is a “brand,” what message do you want your music to send?
Confidence is something that this generation is lacking. Confidence is key right now. I want every person to feel like they are worth it.