Maggie Lindemann Is Doing It Her Way

It was just minutes before doors opened at Maggie Lindemann’s first headlining show in New York City, and the line at Mercury Lounge stretched down E. Houston, and wrapped around Ludlow Street.

Once inside, the fans crowded the stage, and recited nearly every lyric during Maggie’s raucous anti-pop / pop punk set, even chipping in to do Siiickbrain’s parts for “break me!”

For Maggie – who was taking photos with as many fans as possible at the end of the night – the show wasn’t just a success, it was proof that she made the right decision to create her own path.

Her recently released full-length album, Suckerpunch, came out on her own label, swixxzaudio, which she founded in 2020, at the ripe old age of 22. She’d had a breakout hit four years earlier with the song “Pretty Girl,” and with years of experience as a major label artist under her belt, and a massive online following – she currently has over 6M followers on Instagram – she decided it was time to do things her way.

She still listens when major label A&Rs attempt to court her, but make no mistake – when it comes to Maggie’s career, she’s the boss.

I caught up with Maggie after her show at Mercury Lounge to find out what having complete control over her career involves, as well as the perhaps surprising way that – despite her massive social media following – she values privacy, and what was going through her head during the infamous Malaysian prison incident.

You were discovered via social media, and now your numbers are ginormous – 6M followers Instagram, nearly 45M likes on TikTok. I’m wondering, at any point does your online life, and social media stop being fun, and start feeling like more of a responsibility, and if so, can it still be enjoyable regardless? 

I think it’s still enjoyable to an extent. I’m not really on social media like I used to be. I definitely used to be on it way more for fun. Now I don’t really use it unless I have to post something. It’s really rare that I’ll post on Instagram just for pure enjoyment. It’s usually a cover, a song’s coming out, a photoshoot, something like that.

I still find it fun. I would never want to fully delete it, but there’s definitely times where it’s not fun.

How do you push through that? 

I used to read all my comments. I don’t do that anymore. I just post, and get off. And I go on the social media that is enjoyable. TikTok is enjoyable to me because it’s just videos that don’t matter. I just stay away from the stuff that might bother me.

Having lived so much of your life in the public eye, what does privacy mean to you? 

I’m way more private of a person now than I was a couple years ago.

Nothing’s really a secret in my life, but I like to keep my relationships private, my friendships private. The stuff in my life that I genuinely super value – relationships, friendships, my family – I like to keep private. I cherish that. I don’t want the whole world to have an opinion on certain stuff.

Before all the social media, I’m guessing you did at least a few school talent shows back in the day. Did you crush those? 

No. They’re probably terrible looking back on it.

When I saw Slumdog Millionaire for the first time, there’s this song in it, “Jai Ho,” I was gonna sing that in the talent show, which is so random, and I don’t know what I was thinking.

I remember I was practicing, and it was just terrible, so I picked another song, I can’t remember what song it was, it was a pop song. It was super last minute, so I was upset. I probably did not crush it.

I did two school talent shows, and that was my memorable one.

You have major label experience, having been signed to Atlantic, but your current album, Suckerpunch, was released via your own label, swixxzaudio. What went into the decision to create your own label? 

I do everything myself. I’m my own A&R, I find my own videographers, photographers, people to write with, people to produce. Everything is me, so I was just like, I honestly don’t need a person that’s gonna do it all for me, I just need people to support me.

I’m signed to a distribution deal with Virgin, and that’s all I need, it’s perfect. I have full creative control. They basically just give me the thumbs up, and they’re like, “Go ahead.”

Whenever someone launches an ambitious endeavor like that they always run into a few naysayers. How did you deal with those folks? 

I don’t really care what people say about my career, and my business, because at the end of the day I’m really happy with where I’m at in my career. I might not be Beyonce, but I feel super accomplished in what I do, and I’m proud of myself for where I’m at.

You would have no privacy if you were Beyonce. 

{laughs} I mean no one’s Beyonce, except for Beyonce, but I’m cool with where I’m at.

What lessons did you learn from your previous major label experience that influence how you run swixxzaudio? 

In the beginning, I was 16, so I wasn’t really the best businessperson. Now I have a lot of experience in how to run a business. I’m very on top of my shit. I’m very in it.

You released a video of some kind for every song on Suckerpunch. What went into that decision? 

We wanted to do lyric videos, but I hate lyric videos with just the lyrics on the screen, so I wanted to do something a little more interesting. People were really confused by it because the videos have no correlation, really, to the songs, but it was supposed to be one long video chopped up in each song, and it’s me throughout the day – I’m getting cereal, I’m on the roof, I’m on a phone call, I’m at the skatepark and I’m just chillin’, I’m driving in my car, I’m just doing things that are natural to me. I didn’t want to do videos that were all done up for each one, I just wanted it to feel very natural.

When you hear from fans, what do they tell you they connect with most when it comes to both you, and your music? 

I think lyrics. People are always talking to me about, “This song helped me with this,” or, “I really needed this song at this point in my life.”

I’ve always been really open with my struggles, and my life, and I think a lot of people appreciate that, and have told me that’s helped them.

How do you feel about the phrase “role model,” and possibly being one to your fans? 

I don’t know how I feel about the phrase role model. For me, personally, I have a lot of inspirations, but I don’t think I really have a role model. Maybe my mom.

I think just the term role model … no one’s perfect. I appreciate it, obviously, of course I think it’s a really big compliment, but we’re all human, we all make mistakes.

You had a really impressive show tonight. You came to New York, and you sold out Mercury Lounge. When you were up on stage, and you saw so many people knew your lyrics, and when you shouted out, “Who’s bi, who’s pan, who’s this,” you saw a huge reaction. What was the feeling like when all that was happening? 

It’s just cool, overall, to see reactions from people. We’ve been in a pandemic for the past two years, feels like way longer, (and) it’s weird, because I haven’t been able to see people in person. I did one (post-pandemic) tour, but I was opening, so it’s not the same.

It wasn’t your crowd. 

I’d never done a show that was my crowd like this. It was crazy to see it, and I know a lot of people’s favorite song is “Show Knows It,” so I just wanted to talk to the crowd, and see everyone’s reaction.

That’s awesome. I don’t want to revisit horrible things, but in 2019 you were arrested in Malaysia for performing without a permit, and spent 24 hours in a Malaysian prison. You’ve told the story before, so I won’t ask you to tell it again, but what was going through your head during that mess? 

I was super anxious. I’d never felt anxiety like that, and I just kept thinking about my family.

It’s weird, because in a situation like that you would think I would be freaking out, going crazy, and I was, internally, but I was very stiff faced for the beginning of it, trying to process all of it.

I just kept picturing my house. All I could think about was how badly I wished I was home, and I just kept seeing my house, and being like oh my God, I just wish I was home so bad.

And none of it was your fault. The event’s promoter/organizer was supposed to handle the permits. 

Yeah, I don’t even know what happened. I was just glad to leave. I didn’t even ask too many questions, I was just like get me the fuck out.

You do have a fan base there who attended the show. Will you go back to Malaysia at some point? 

I know I have a lot of fans there. It’s obviously not their fault, they had nothing to do with it. I just gotta make sure everything’s in order.

Finally, you have a lot of ink. Is any of it especially meaningful to you? 

Some of it. I just got my boyfriend’s name, so I guess that’s meaningful. I have 0067 which is my brother’s birth year, and my parents’ birth year. I have some quotes by Shane Koyczan, who is like my favorite poet.

Not all of it’s super meaningful, but it’s just shit I like. I love The Nightmare Before Christmas, so I have Sally’s hands. I also have the sandworm from Beetlejuice.

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