In an ever-changing music world, where the popularity of a young artist can be measured in YouTube views, Spotify plays and Instagram followers, Maggie Lindemann is doing exceptionally well. The 22-year-old rock/alt/pop singer/songwriter has become very successful, and she has recently released her impressive debut EP, Paranoia.
Lindemann, an indie artist who has released her EP on her own label, swixxzaudio (via Caroline Records), is proving that she can have artistic freedom and release her music and videos the way she wants. Paranoia is an 8-song collection of high energy, cutting-edge alternative rock & pop songs that showcase her strong lead vocals, creative songwriting ideas and fresh production.
The EP starts off with her song “Knife Under My Pillow,” a fast-paced, catchy punk-rock track that has a unique title and lyric concept. The next two songs, “GASLIGHT! (feat. Siickbrain) and “Scissorhands” have an even more intense, potent alt/rock sound. Another highlight is the more mainstream, melodic pop-rock song “Loner,” which has a hooky chorus melody and sounds ideal for radio airplay. Also on the EP is the acoustic ballad “Love Songs,” that provides a nice change of pace.
Lindemann, who grew up in Dallas, Texas, first started releasing singles in 2015 when she was 16. Then in 2016, she had a breakout success with her heartfelt, anthemic song “Pretty Girl,” which was certified platinum in the U.S. The single became a hit in many countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, France, Germany, Italy and Sweden. In addition, the compelling video for “Pretty Girl” has now attracted 149 million views.
The popularity of “Pretty Girl” and Lindemann’s follow-up singles has established her as a top artist on several platforms. Currently, she has 1.7 million YouTube subscribers, 4.5 million Instagram followers, and her songs have been streamed over a billion times on Spotify.
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Maggie Lindemann, who now lives in Los Angeles. She tells how she got started in the music business, and how her single “Pretty Girl” helped launched her career. She also discusses the making of her EP Paranoia, and how she likes the freedom of being an independent artist.
Here’s the video of Maggie Lindemann’s single, “Knife Under
DK: I read that you’re from Dallas, Texas. How did you get started with singing and writing songs?
Maggie Lindemann: I’ve always loved to sing, and in middle school I was in the choir and I did musical theatre. When I was young, I also wrote a lot of poems and I developed a love for songwriting.
DK: When did you decide to move to Los Angeles?
Lindemann: I moved out here when I was 16. I had visited L.A. a few times, and then I got a call from my now manager, who saw the videos of me singing, and he wanted me to come in and meet with him. I flew out to L.A. with my parents, and we went to meet him at Capitol Records. So I went there to meet with him for the first time, and then we came back (to his office) the next day to sing this song for him. Then he said, “I want to sign you—I want to be your manager, and I want to help you.” After that, I moved to L.A. I just saw the opportunity, so my family let me move.
DK: I like your song “Pretty Girl,” which was was your breakthrough hit. How did you write this song with Sasha Sloan and Sean Meyer?
Lindemann: It’s so funny—that song actually came from a tweet of mine, because at the time people weren’t really understanding me. They were just looking at my social media instead of listening to my music. They were looking at me and not seeing anything more than this pretty girl on Instagram. So I wanted to get this message out that I was more than that. I don’t want to be known for just my face—I want to be known for my music and art. So I tweeted something that was along those lines. From there, Sasha (Sloan) was like, “Oh, I love this.” And that’s how we started writing “Pretty Girl.”
DK: You recently released your first EP, Paranoia. Can you talk about the making of this EP?
Lindemann: I started working on it in 2019; I knew I wanted to make an EP. In the past, I’d go to a session and write a song, and if you didn’t like it you would scrap it. You’d go through the process of writing songs and not liking them. But with this EP, I felt like we were going in and writing good songs every time. So it was hard to really scrap some at the end because I just loved all the songs. Obviously, I couldn’t put all of them on the EP. But we were getting good song after good song, and we were making this cool body of work. And I got to work with a lot of the same people on the whole EP, which was really fun.
Here’s the audio for Maggie Lindemann’s song, “Loner.”
DK: I noticed that most of the songs on Paranoia are more edgy, alternative rock songs with high energy. How did you decide to go in this direction?
Lindemann: Well, the songs that I put out at the beginning, before “Pretty Girl,” were more alternative pop. So I always wanted to make more [alternative rock] music. I never wanted to make mainstream pop music. But it ended up being more pop for a little bit. So with this EP, I wanted to be myself and do what I wanted to do. I wasn’t with a label anymore, and so I had more free, creative control in everything that I’m doing, I always grew up listening to pop-punk, and alternative radio and rock. That’s what my family grew up on. So I wanted to go in that direction and make music that I genuinely felt a connection with.
DK: I like your new single “Knife Under My Pillow,” which has an unusual song title. How did you come up with the idea for that song?
Lindemann: I actually sleep with a knife under my pillow. I used to live in this house that was really scary. It was creepy, so I always thought someone would break in. It got to the point where I would sleep with a knife literally under my pillow. And I texted this guy…I was telling him that I was scared (laughs) and I thought someone was trying to break into my house. Then I sent him a picture of a knife under my pillow, and I was like, “Don’t worry, I have a knife under my pillow.” And I thought about it, and said, “This is a really cool title for a song.” Then we just ran with it.
DK: Another song on your EP that I like is “Loner,” which has a strong chorus. How did you and your co-writers write that song?
Lindemann: That was another song that came naturally. I was talking [to my co-writers] about how I felt so lonely in this period of my life. I felt like I had so much going on around me, but somehow I was still feeling lonely, and I felt this disconnect from people. So we got into the studio and wrote about that. It was the same group (of writers) that I wrote “Knife Under My Pillow” with. When you work with the same people, it just happens so naturally. It was so free-flowing.
Here’s the video of Maggie Lindemann’s hit, “Pretty Girl.”
DK: You’ve released your EP on your own label, swixxzaudio. Do you plan to stay indie, rather than signing with a major label?
Lindemann: I love being indie right now. It was a good move for me, because I’d been signed with a label for so long. And when you sign so young and so fresh, they try to morph you into what they want you to be. But in the situation I’m in now, I’m free to create however I want, and know that it’s me on it. I like that I’m able to create this sound and create my own person. Maybe one day, if I want to be in a label situation again, it will be on my terms and I’ll be able to make what I want. But for now, I kind of like being by myself.
DK: I noticed that you’ve created many videos that have over a million views. For an indie artist, is the best strategy to post videos on YouTube, and to build your fanbase via social media and other platforms?
Lindemann: I think so. It’s all about staying active and interacting with people that are supporting you, and posting as much content as you can. People love content. People love to feel like they have a connection with you. So yeah, it’s a really important part of being an artist.