Maggie Lindemann’s new EP ‘Paranoia’ saw her undergo an ambitious musical transformation.
The influencer turned alt-pop star first made a name for herself with viral bubblegum pop hits like ‘Pretty Girl’ and ‘Obsessed’; but now 22-year-old Lindemann is switching out this sugary pop sound for a new alt-rock aesthetic, and is ready to reintroduce herself with her latest release. Packed with Paramore-inspired bangers, gritty pop-punk project ‘Paranoia’ digs deep into what makes Maggie Lindemann tick. Swimming with dark lyrics and emo anecdotes, Lindemann is here to aid the Gen Z rock-pop rebellion.
In the latest edition of NME’s In Conversation series Maggie Lindemann reveals what it was like to work with Machine Gun Kelly, her acting aspirations, and why Paramore are her ultimate influence. Here’s what we learned.
She’s finally making the music she wants to
Switching from preppy pop to songs featuring screamo and grinding guitars didn’t come without its creative concerns for Maggie Lindemann. “I was anxious, but only because I didn’t want people to think I was trying to be inauthentic….When people go from my ‘Pretty Girl’ version to who I am now, they’re like ‘Oh, this is a phase’ or ‘you’re just trying to be edgy’” Lindemann explains.
After stepping away from her preppy internet image, Lindemann found herself having to defend her new grungy sound. “It’s not a phase, it’s just who I am. I was presenting myself as someone that wasn’t me…I was just trying to fit into this character that I was trying to portray,” she tells NME. Admittedly nervous at first, Lindemann has now made peace with her reinvention. “At the end of the day, if it’s not a version [of me] you like, you don’t have to pay attention to me.”
She wants people to find comfort in ‘Paranoia’
Lindemann’s mental health shaped much of the record, with her honest lyrics candidly depicting her personal experiences. The ’90s-laced ‘Knife Under My Pillow’ sees Lindemann discuss her paranoia (“Paranoia slipping in/Checking all the locks again”), while ‘Different’ sees her sing: “Take me where the headlights go/I’m so fuckin’ lost here/Just wanna be not here”.
With this EP, the singer wanted to forge a space of validation. “I know there’s not a huge representation of paranoia and I haven’t heard that many people speaking about it before,” she says about her condition. “When I started opening up about how I have super bad paranoia, I got so many comments from people being like ‘Oh, I’m so glad someone finally talked about this’ and ‘I related’. It was just this crazy moment for me because I’ve never really heard anyone speak about it. So, I just want them to feel like they have someone to relate to and I want it to be people’s comfort EP. I have my comfort albums, so I hope people find comfort in that music.”
Paramore heavily inspired ‘Paranoia’
If you take a listen to Lindemann’s new EP, you’ll be able to hear the influences of pop-punk icons like Travis Barker and Paramore resonating throughout the record.
She reveals that Nashville alt-rockers Paramore in particular are a massive inspiration. “Paramore was a huge inspiration for this whole EP. I just love Paramore and I was listening to them so much during the making of it,” the singer admits. Stuffed with sharp personal lyrics, ‘Paranoia’ is filled with the same boundless vigour of the band’s rebellious second record ‘Riot!’.
“[My song]’Crash and Burn’ was kind of like Paramore’s ‘Misery Business’ in how you hear the very beginning of that song and you immediately know it’s ‘Misery Business’ – you don’t have to think about it,” she explains.
Her obsession with horror movies helped inspire the record’s dark theme
An avid fan of horror films, Lindemann latched onto their eerie aesthetic and poured it into her hauntingly catchy body of work. Lead track ‘Knife Under My Pillow’ walks us through Lindemann’s frenzied state as she anxiously sings: “Got me staring out the window / A knife under my pillow / But it’s all inside my mind”, an honest glance into her struggle with paranoia.
“The song is about paranoia, but it’s kind of funny because I’m sleeping with a knife under my pillow, like, damn get a hold of yourself!” Lindemann explains with a laugh. The song’s accompanying music video, where she uncertainly explores a house searching for something untoward, was inspired “early 2000s cheesy horror movies”.
“It’s me walking through a house with a flashlight and I’m like looking behind the walls and stuff. It’s a joke, but it’s also something I actually do,” she says.
Playing a mean girl in Machine Gun Kelly’s Downfalls High made the singer consider doing more acting
Making her acting debut in Machine Gun Kelly’s musical Downfalls High – a modern emo version of Grease released earlier this year – Lindemann slipped into the role of high school mean girl. Directed and produced by MGK, the angsty musical-drama follows outsider Fenix (Chase Hudson) as he falls in love with popular teen Scarlett (Sydney Sweeney). As Lindemann leans into her mischievous grunge girl character, the singer reveals what it was like to be under Kelly’s mentorship. “It was fun! I’m not an actress [and] I’ve never acted before, so it was really funny,” the singer says. “I loved everyone on set and Machine Gun Kelly is so talented and [Downfalls High co-director] Mod Son’s so talented, and it was just really cool to be a part of something like that.”
While Downfalls High was her first shot at acting, the ‘Paranoia’ singer revealed she’d love to get stuck into other projects outside of music, adding: “I want to go to more acting classes. I used to go to them, and I just haven’t in a while, so I definitely want to do that.”