For the past decade and a half, Veronica Maggio has dominated the Swedish pop scene with her songs’ irresistible mix of melancholy and big choruses. As she records her seventh album, she tells The Forumist about the effect her music has on her fans and the importance of change.
Being the patron saint of Scandinavian broken hearts, Veronica Maggio’s impact on the Nordic music sphere since her debut album 15 years ago is almost beyond comparison. Pop music (especially in Sweden) would undoubtedly not have sounded the same if not for Maggio’s somewhat melancholic and intimate take on simple love stories and grandiose tales of sleepless streets on eternal summer nights. Welcoming her listeners into a heart that is bleeding, all of her songs create a sense of ‘us against the world’ – Veronica Maggio will be on our side no matter what! Befriending millions of people through music is not a simple task, but Maggio has managed to help her fans through thick and thin, just like a true friend should.
“Playing live and seeing how much the lyrics mean to someone standing in the crowd, I can’t begin to describe how amazing that makes me feel,” she says when I ask her about her thoughts on the fact that her music has helped her listeners through highs and lows, through the breaking and mending of hearts. “I love people and their emotions, their way to deal with things and to describe things in ways that give them meaning,” she explains. “The essence of what I like is when a meaningless and ordinary action is described in words that give it meaning. Then, life feels a little bit better and a little bit easier.”
Maggio is in fact talking about what she herself enjoys in music and literature, but she might as well have been defining her own accomplishment, since breathing meaning into otherwise mundane events is one of her superpowers. Anyone can write or sing or recite words of love, but few can really make it count. Maggio is one of these few, sporting a near magical ability to bring simplicity to life. The magic formula, I believe, is creating the illusion of a direct mode of communication between a singer and a listener, making us feel like each Maggio song is a personal, one-on-one, heart-to-heart conversation. Being that Maggio sings her heartfelt lyrics almost exclusively in Swedish, I urge every English-speaking Forumist reader to listen closely to her music, because her uniqueness lies heavily in the way that she sings, and that her energy transcends the barriers of language.
Prior to the release of her latest single, ‘Se mig’ (‘See me’), which will be featured on her upcoming seventh studio album, Maggio put out ‘Nu stannar vi på marken’ (‘Now we stay on the ground’), a cover of mythical Swedish marvel Stina Nordenstam’s ‘Nu lyfter vi från marken’ (‘Now we lift off from the ground’). The release of the beautiful cover was a part of a campaign for the Swedish national train service encouraging people to travel by train – staying on the ground – instead of flying, now when things are slowly getting back to normal and we can begin to revitalize our lives. As we return from this strange period of isolation, we have the chance to start over and do everyday things, such as travelling, in ways that are more sustainable. In the light of this environmentally friendly release, which still to my ears dwells on matters of the heart, I ask Maggio what the issue of climate change means to her.
“It means a lot, of course!” she exclaims. “We only have one planet, so there really is no one for whom it doesn’t mean anything at all. I think it’s stressful, I always feel like I’m not doing enough and I am constantly reminded of how powerless I am. It is the big corporations and industries that need to change, or maybe it’s our consumption frenzy that has to change, first and foremost. Every business needs constant growth in order to survive, which is an impossible equation. Of course, it’s difficult to invite people to shrink their companies and their lives, because it is not in human nature to think smaller. It is one of our most basic driving forces, but it needs to change.”
Just like in her music, I feel like Maggio can speak of such seemingly hopeless things as these, but still do it in a hopeful way. When she serenades a lost love or a forgotten night, it is always with an underlying sense of a dim light at the end of the tunnel, a possible turn around a remote corner. In the intimate universe that consists of Maggio’s vast songbook, a warm feeling of never being too late to turn things around is ever present.
From record to record, Maggio has succeeded in reinventing herself and her sound, constantly revitalizing her career while still maintaining her core identity as an artist. “I always go by my gut feeling and my intuition,” she says about her creative process, which apparently is not based on ready-made visions. “I always want to move away from the last thing I’ve done. I usually get tired of myself, my lyrics, my methods or my producer. I need to change something up, otherwise, I can get bored. Right now, I don’t know exactly what I’m moving towards,” she explains, with her new studio album in mind, which is being recorded as we speak. It’s highly exciting to catch Maggio right in the middle of creating something new since her thoughts and her direction aren’t yet cemented and decided. From what I have seen, the one thing that’s certain about the new record is that its artwork will be based on Belgian comic artist Roger Leloup’s comic-strip stories about electrical-engineer heroine Yoko Tsuno, since Maggio loves science fiction and found one of Leloup’s comic books in the early stages of making the album.
There is a vibrance in Maggio’s voice, betraying the fact that this uncertain and open phase of the creation is quite rewarding. Anything can happen, the world is her oyster. Still, the changes between the records might become smaller with age: “Of course, when you’re younger, the steps are bigger because you change more as a person from year to year. Now, I think I’ve found a core which I stick closer to.”
As she releases a steady stream of singles this autumn before finally releasing her new album next spring, it is clear that Maggio has finally found a space of certainty to hold on to while still always moving forward and reshaping her expression. Perhaps that is exactly what her many loyal fans cling on to as well – a secure rock that still allows movement, change and growth.
Words by FILIP LINDSTRÖM
Photography by OLOF GRIND
Styling by KARIN SMEDS
Hair by HASSE NILSSON at Noir Stockholm
Makeup & nails by MARINA ANDERSSON for YSL Beauty at Linkdetails
Postproduction STUDIO CLINKHA
Location: SÖDRA TEATERN
#1 Waistcoat in PVC with feather trim and snap locks by BONDY.
#2 Silk set by EMELIE JANRELL, shoe-sculptures by NAIM JOSEFI
#3&4 Top by SIRLOIN, trousers by GANNI, shoes stylist’s own
#5 Silk trousers by CHRISTINA LEUBE, polo neck top by ARKET, multi neck rib bra top SIRLOIN.
#6 White silk t-shirt by FILIPPA SVENSSON, hand-tied rope application in macramé by FILIPPA SVENSSON, white flare trousers by Naim Yosefi
#7 Purple t-shirt by GANNI, White flare marble pattern stretch trousers by CHRISTIANA HADJIPAPA
#8 Sleeveless silk-chiffon tunic with digital print on hand painting, by CHRISTINA LEUBE, Black Thunder sports bra by CHRISTIANA HADJIPAPA, Black High waist flare trousers by BONDY, sneakers by EYTYS.
#9 Three-dimensional shoe-sculptures on her feet are by NAIM JOSEFI, Hand-dyed transparent lavender silk set by EMELIE JANRELL
#10 Marble pattern seethrough top by CHRISTIANA HADJIPAPA, White flare marble pattern stretch trousers by CHRISTIANA HADJIPAPA, Sneakers by EYTYS