Steel Maggie is tough as steel, bold, Dance-Pop artist who creates music for the minimally sane, moderately restless and the significantly idealistic. She is heavily influenced by icons that include Lady Gaga, Marina and the Diamonds, The Killers, Christine and the Queens. Her music has emotional intense vocals, hard-driven themes of mortality, disillusionment, addiction, and bittersweet epiphanies. Steel Maggie has the vision of shedding light on the status of mental health to help eradicate its stigma. She is also the host of the Mind Made Wrong podcast where she speaks of real conversations about mental health in the entertainment industry.
Last month Steel Maggie released her latest single "Holy Ground", and it is a dance-centric ethereal vocal-driven experience that we can't stop grooving to. It features punchy drums and an emotional almost raspy vocal performance from Steel Maggie. A highlight in this song is the excellently placed call and response type of vocal in the chorus between her main tight harmonies and then the hooky lead lines. There is an underlying story that gets painted within the song about finding your inner self and worth and it perfectly works with the dynamic modern production of the song. "Holy Ground" is something that we can expect to hear on the dance floor again and again.
Listen to "Holy Ground" here.
Hey there Steel Maggie! Welcome to BuzzMusic! Your latest single "Holy Ground" is such an exciting dancey ethereal tune, what was the songwriting and production process for it like? How did the ideas for the chorus come into mind with its unique call and response?
Hi!! It's so funny, this song was technically in the works since early 2017. I had a piano motif I was messing around with, the one you hear in the beginning, stuck in my head and I couldn't create something greater from it for the longest time. I write all my songs initially on the piano and I had several iterations of this song, and none of them were what I wanted. Lyrically and melodically, they felt hollow and forced, so I put the song on the shelf until late 2018 when my producer and I were starting to work on another batch of songs. I felt it calling, and I think the song was ready at that point. An ethereal feeling is something I always like to capture in my music, and in that same vein, I love 80s dance pop, so any time a synth or drum sounds like it could be plucked out of that era and easily brought into modern music, I'm on top of it! For the call and response, when I wrote the final version, I was constantly alternating between these two chorus melodies on the piano, I was like "which one feels better," and I couldn't decide, so then I was like... "you know what, fuck it, I'm going to do both because it sounds lit." And it just so turns out that the dueling lyrics fit perfectly within that call and response melody. I'd like to say the reason for the call and response is because I love taking inspiration from Christian traditions as well Greek mythology, but the truth is, I was just indecisive, and I get melodically led by the piano very easily.
Production-wise, I have the best working relationship with my producer, John McLucas, and he is able to bring the visions I have in my head for my songs into the highest level of execution. One fun tidbit is that the piano in the beginning is actually from the scratch demo I sent to him, and it was recorded via phone memo in the music academy where I work! We were going to re-record me doing that intro, but the feeling and energy from the scratch recording was getting lost, so we ended up actually using that iPhone voice memo in the real song for that little piano clip. This song is mostly drum patches and background vocals, which the latter are my absolute favorite thing to record every single project I do. I'm the backgrounds queen, I sing almost everything, and I'm sure you can hear that all over "Holy Ground." I even sing the original piano riff at the end of the chorus. We just wanted to make this song FEEL good like you couldn't help but dance to it. The ending is our favorite part though because it's kind of like an aesthetic extension of the song - the song isn't over, but the musical landscape has changed, and like an epilogue to a book, you're able to consider the meaning of the song to you, like "oh my god...everywhere I go is really actually holy ground if I say so. I am worth my own respect." It's definitely the precursor to the official video.... coming at some point this year!
"Holy Ground" has an extremely relevant theme that a lot of people are able to relate to. What inspired the lyric writing from the song? Was there a specific story you wanted to tell?
The lyrics definitely morphed over time! They started more in a feminist anthem type of way, but they were ultimately uninspired and hollow. I ended up writing them as a declaration of self-love and worth for myself before I knew what that felt like. I wanted that identity and to feel my value so badly, but my identity was trapped in other people and external things, particularly alcohol. All of the situations and relationships I put myself through were because I was looking externally for validation and a feeling that I was worth something. I had to come to a rock bottom place and have an incident where I quit drinking in order to meet my higher self for the first time and learn my purpose in this world. I've had addiction problems since age 19 and this song has come to symbolize my recovery in all ways, physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. This song is me learning how to truly love and celebrate the full force of my existence, and sharing that it is possible for you, the listener, as well.
All of your music has very positive yet relatable themes, do you have any goals for 2020 that you would like to achieve? Are there any that you have in mind for the industry as a whole that would help make things better?
Fantastic question. I really want to start building a community around these messages in my music, not so much for my glory or profit but because I believe that we can all support each other and that everyone has a space to belong and thrive. Everyone should be able to connect to their purpose and vision for their lives and their artistry and be able to feel their intrinsic value in this world and SHARE that. I want to help spread this idea and help others reach the reality of this revelation. So my goal in 2020 is to communicate that as effectively as possible and to as many people as I can reach through my music and my willingness to show up in performance, content, and my podcast. I would like to find sponsorship or two for the podcast as well.
It's truly incredible to see you advocating for those with mental health in the entertainment industry. Do you have any points you would like to make for those who are currently going through it?
Thank you :) I have had AMAZING interviews with my guests that are resources within themselves for staying in the game despite incredible odds, so if people want to check out my podcast Mind Made Wrong, a wealth of support and "aha" moments are to be found there. But right now, I'm really a big advocate for connecting with and trusting in yourself, as hard as it is. Take one small action each day to communicate with your subconscious that you are capable of loving yourself and that you are worthy of love and respect, from others and yourself. This could be as simple as washing your face. As an individual with bipolar disorder, I know what it's like to be in a depressive episode and feel like scum of the earth, someone who doesn't deserve basic self care or feeling like a waste of time. But it's crucial that even though you might not BELIEVE that you deserve basic love and respect yet, you try to act "as if," for just one brief interval everyday. Like I said, it doesn't have to be a luxurious bath or going to yoga class. Sometimes that's just too much to ask. You can literally just drink some water with INTENTION, repeating the mantra "I am worth this care," or even, "I am willing to consider that I am worth this care." I hope this helps someone who's struggling today. One little thing with the intention. Be simply willing to consider love.
Thank you for joining us Maggie, what can fans expect next from you?
I will be releasing the official Warning Label video (finally), and soon this year I will also be releasing what I consider to be my best songwriting/production effort yet, a song called "Out of Eden." Plus I am planning to resume playing out in the LA/SGV area (well if this crazy virus stays under control)!