Every member of Gen Z probably remembers jamming to the chart-topping song ‘Pretty Girl’ at every single house party in 2016 – even if not to the original version, then to the remix by Cheat Codes X CADE. But what happened to the pretty girl next door from Texas that gave the song its vocals? Nowadays, she finds herself “still the same, (baby) but just way more real”, as she messes around with friends in empty parking lots and skate parks in L.A., her signature clothing style and thick black eyeliner making her recognisable from miles away.
Maggie Lindemann’s transition from 2016’s upcoming pop princess to 2022’s glam punk icon came steadily, yet shocking for the mainstream audience. Her new sound is different, rougher, wilder and louder, as she proved with the release of her debut EP ‘PARANOIA’ last year and continues to do so with the highly anticipated recent release of her very first studio album ‘SUCKERPUNCH’. At the album’s press conference, Lindemann explained her much-needed image- and genre change, admitted her love for the 2000s, allowed insight into her creative process and surprised people who might put her in a box.
Hearing the transition you made from your single ‘Pretty Girl’, released in 2016, which is a pop song, to alternative rock with the release of your debut EP ‘PARANOIA’ in 2021, what was the driving force that made you want to change your sound and do you see yourself reinventing your sound again in your career?
So… the thing that made me switch was, first of all, I’ve always loved rock music. I grew up listening to pop punk bands and my family loves metal music so I was really surrounded by that my whole life. But I think my turning point was when I had this experience happen to me in Asia, where I was going on tour and things didn’t go to plan and I realised that if I’m not doing exactly what I want to do, none of the things I’m doing are worth it. When bad things happen to you… If you’re not living your life to the fullest… It makes you realise you need to change some things. So that was what it was for me. And no I probably won’t. I don’t think I’m going to change genres again. I’ll probably stick with this one.
What does female/feminine identity mean to you, especially as someone in the rock/alternative scene that is still really heavily male-dominated?
I mean, we have Gwen Stefani, Evanescence, Paramore, Garbage, Hole. It is hard at times because it is such a male-dominated genre and sometimes I feel like people don’t give it credit, where maybe, potentially credit is due. But I think it’s cool and I enjoy it a lot and I have a lot of really cool women to look up to so it’s really great to be able to follow in their footsteps or at least try to.
What is one thing that you want people to understand about your music or take away from your new project when listening to ‘SUCKERPUNCH’ for the first time?
I hope people can see the evolution of myself and hear the growth in my writing. Obviously I make music as kind of a therapy, that’s my therapy. I just want people to be able to relate and feel like they have someone that understands them and just have that song that if they’re going through something, or if they’re having a good day, if they’re having a bad day, whatever it is, they have that song on the album that they can put on and not worry about anything else.
Was playing into or sort of modernising that 2000s-era sound any sort of intentional reflection on your past versus your current self or is that just what sounded right for this project?
I just think that I was doing whatever I wanted. I’m heavily influenced by the 2000s and 2010s pop punk so I definitely like to go in on that and play with that stuff and make it feel a little more current with what I’m listening to now and ideas I have. I think when I’m making music, I’m not thinking about that but then when I look back I realise it. But yeah, I think I was just going into the studio and had all these ideas and my producers were very patient with me and helped me put the vision to life.
What was the creative process like while making ‘self sabotage’?
It actually was one of those songs that were pretty easy to write. We went in and we finished it pretty quick. Some of the production changed a bit but the actual lyrics we wrote pretty quick. I was just doing a lot of self-sabotaging at the time and I was like “I need to write a song about this” because I was talking to my friend about it and she was like “I’ve been doing that too” so I was like “Wow, okay, I know this is a really difficult topic but I’m gonna talk about it”. But we finished the song really quick and then, with the production we brought kmoe on, who’s a really cool artist himself. It was one of the longest production songs we did but we did it.
How much creative control do you have over the things you release?
I have full creative control now. I’m signed to a distribution. I’m not signed to a label. Which just means I’m basically my own boss. I’m able to do really anything I want. With music videos, I find those directors and we work on them together and we’re able to create whatever I have in my head freely, without other people getting involved. Everything I do is very me, it’s not going through anyone. I don’t have to get my outfits approved by anyone or my songs approved, they just support me.
How do you measure success when you create, release or perform your songs and in general, what does success in music look like to you?
I try not to pay too much attention to views or streams or anything like that because I don’t want to compare myself or my career to anyone else’s. And everyone moves at a different rate, so I think it’s not fair to ever do that. But to me, success just feels like when I feel proud of myself. For this album, I’m just genuinely proud. Obviously, if people don’t like it or if it had zero streams I’d be like, “Damn! That sucks!” because I worked really hard on this, you know what I mean? I want people to like it, obviously. A song may be terrible to the world, a flop or whatever you wanna call it, but if I feel proud of it and I feel confident and I feel like I did a good job then I’m able to move forward and, you know, keep making music and keep doing what I’m doing. I think that that’s when I feel successful.
Written by Vicky Madzak