In 1998, Acorn, one of the earliest and most popular manufacturers of computer technology, was officially created. At precisely the same time, similarly fast-rising companies Microsoft and a then-restructuring Apple were about to enter an intense battle for household prevalence. Also in 1998, Susan Denson gave birth to Margaret Elizabeth Lindemann. The Dallas native’s childhood and adolescence was consequently lived online, a platform that created a safe space for self-discovery and catapulted her affinity for singing into a career (which, only two decades on, is now in full swing).
Maggie Lindemann is an Internet baby, and she’s damn proud of it.
Prior to her fast-approaching 21st birthday, Lindemann can comfortably check a series of small accomplishments off her list. First finding fame on micro video-sharing app Keek, the singer debuted with an international hit single, has performed for sold-out crowds, and has caught the attention of chart-topping producers. Despite the fact the singer is yet to even release a formal project, she’s garnered millions of devoted online acolytes—hanging off each colorful stroke of the Gen Z mural she paints.
Now, the mere flick of the chanteuse’s liquid eyeliner is enough to elicit hundreds of thousands of double taps—perhaps inspiring her aforementioned 2017 insta-classic “Pretty Girl,” a sonic middle finger to institutional sexism. Fuck your ribbons and your pearls, I’m not just a pretty girl, Lindemann declared, a line that quickly became a rallying cry for young women around the world desperate to be valued beyond their appearance. Two years on, Lindemann is a definitive star, but she’s not going to settle for anything less than the sun. We caught up with Lindemann to talk Internet love (and hate), Lana Del Rey, and learning to stand up for herself.
“Pretty Girl” was this enormous hit, why do you think it really connected with listeners?
“‘Pretty Girl’ especially was so relatable; girls get looked down on. We aren’t often taken seriously, or people don’t listen to us. I try to talk to people about what I go through to prove that they’re really not alone.”
Do you gravitate towards that in other artists?
“Definitely. When I relate to other artists’ lyrics, it makes me like them more. I want that connection, and I feel like I’m always trying to create that too.”
I’m also a big Lana Del Rey fan—I almost walked into her one day and it changed my life. What is it you take away from her?
“No! I would have died, I would have actually been crying. I think Lana is just so true to herself. She created this whole lane for musicians. She’s created such a vibe that you can relate back to her. It’s like, ‘That reminds me of Lana.’ She’s made this brand for herself.”
Tell me about formulating your brand.
“When I was younger I was like, Ugh, whatever. I wasn’t really into it, or didn’t really feel like I could express myself in the way I do now. From how I dress to what I tweet or post, I know what I want. I’ve definitely found my brand and know who I am.”
I feel like the music industry, particularly with young female artists, can be very calculated—and heavy-handed—when it comes to constructing an image. How was navigating that?
“Oh for sure, it’s tough. Especially as a young woman, people are always telling you how to be. They obviously know what works and what people want to see, but at the end of the day, if you’re not being true to yourself, then you’re not going to enjoy doing what you do.”
Did you ever have to stand your ground and say, “Actually this is my identity?”
“Well, I started so young that I didn’t know who I was. I was really impressionable, and I didn’t really know when I could say no. I was having a hard time with it. But now that I’ve grown up and know the sound I want to make and what I want to wear, I think I stand my ground more. It’s definitely hard, but in the end, it’s worth it.”
Have you noticed a shift, post-Me Too, for young women in entertainment?
“Definitely. I think for so long people were so scared to speak up, and now we have this amazing movement where we’re so much more comfortable with sharing. Women are on this come up—we’re so powerful right now. It’s a good time to be a woman.”
I know your start came from social media, did that have any impact on you being taken seriously in music in those early days?
“I had to prove myself for sure. In a lot of different ways. People didn’t know if I was genuine or not, because on the Internet everyone’s trying things—modeling or singing. But singing was something I’ve always wanted to do and I had to really show that it was for real.”
Was there ever a moment of, Is this even worth it?
“There have been really, really hard moments, but I’ve always had my eye on the prize. At times, I’ve definitely wanted to crawl into a ball and give up; it can be really toxic. With social media and people constantly having an opinion, it gets to be a lot. But for the most part, it’s a lot of love.”
And it’s such a numbers game now—streams and charts and followers. Is that something you really factor in when you’re in the studio?
“I think yes and no: If you pay too much attention to the numbers it can cloud your judgement. If I want to do something and then I look at numbers, it makes me want to change. I just have to stay true to myself.”
Do you read your comments?
“Oh, all of them. Maybe I’m weird, but I like reading them. There’s the negativity, but there’s also the positive.”
What direction do you see your sound headed?
“Music for me is like therapy. It really helps me. I want to be like a voice for people are struggling with things, and I want people to really feel me. Obviously success is amazing, but I want happiness and to feel like I have a connection with people.”