Maggie Lindemann Says Women in Pop-Punk Are 'Equally' Talented as Male Artists — 'If Not Better'

Lindemann opens up to PEOPLE about leaving her bubblegum pop music days in the past, creating her debut album SUCKERPUNCH and dating her 'supportive' new flame, NBA player Jordan Clarkson

Maggie Lindemann Says Women in Pop-Punk Are Equally Talented — 'If Not Better' — Than Male Artists
Maggie Lindemann. Photo: Marina Hunter

Seven years, one worldwide smash hit and a drastic sonic pivot into her career, Maggie Lindemann finally released her debut album, SUCKERPUNCH, on Friday.

"I'm so glad that I never put out a full-length project, because it would be so different than it is now," the 24-year-old singer-songwriter tells PEOPLE over coffee in New York City. At this point, Lindemann is a completely different artist from the internet-famous teenager her fans fell in love with through bubblegum pop songs like the platinum-certified "Pretty Girl" — and that's exactly what she's going for.

Born in 1998 and raised in Dallas, Texas, Lindemann grew a large social media following thanks to singing videos posted on Instagram and YouTube, which prompted a move to Los Angeles at 16 — without her parents — to pursue her music career. A few single releases and record deal with 300 Entertainment later, she found a global hit in 2016's anthemic "Pretty Girl," which now holds over a billion combined streams. But she wasn't connected to the music.

Maggie Lindemann Says Women in Pop-Punk Are Equally Talented — 'If Not Better' — Than Male Artists
Maggie Lindemann. Gabriel Perez Silva

"I wasn't as involved creatively because I didn't know what the f— to do. Pop wasn't my vibe," Lindemann tells PEOPLE. Growing up, she was surrounded by a flurry of different musical genres: mom Denise listened to Evanescence, Britney Spears and Gwen Stefani, while dad Barton loved alternative rock and her brother was into metal. "My first screamo band I ever heard was Alesana in fifth grade. I love [hard rock music]. It's all I listen to."

After years spent touring songs she didn't love, Lindemann decided to take complete control of her career. She parted ways with 300 Entertainment in favor of launching her own label, Swixxzaudio, and crafted an excellent alternative rock and pop-punk debut EP, Paranoia, released last year to acclaim from critics and fans alike. "I thought there was going to be way more hate than there was, but it had an amazing response," says Lindemann. "I was pleasantly surprised by that."

Throughout her career, Lindemann has faced cynics who see her as more of an influencer than a musician, despite the fact that music's been her main focus since the jump. Pivoting into the male-dominated alternative rock and pop-punk genres as a young woman could serve as more fuel for those conversations, especially considering how trendy the sound currently is. "A lot of pop artists are trying to dip their toes in rock, and a lot of it's super disingenuous," she says. "I didn't want people thinking I was disingenuous, because this is music I grew up listening to."

Two years into her sonic switch, it's safe to say Lindemann's been embraced by her preferred genre. She's already created music with Travis Barker of Blink-182 and Kellin Quinn of Sleeping with Sirens, received praise from Oliver Sykes of Bring Me the Horizon — who's looking to collaborate — and starred in Machine Gun Kelly's 2021 film, Downfalls High.

However, she's also encountered seemingly sexist barriers to entry from some of pop-punk's gatekeepers. About a year ago, she recalls coming across a widespread list of the genre's highest streamed artists that featured only one woman — whose Spotify monthly listener count was lower than Lindemann's. "For me, that was a really big moment because I realized I was just left out. You didn't consider me, and statistically, I should've been on there," she details. "I think men trying this genre get a lot more attention than a lot of the girls that are equally [talented], if not better."

Maggie Lindemann Says Women in Pop-Punk Are Equally Talented — 'If Not Better' — Than Male Artists
Maggie Lindemann. Gabriel Perez Silva

Following the release of Paranoia, Lindemann took the EP on tour, opening for another artist who's faced criticism for building a fanbase via internet fame while working to find success as a musician: Madison Beer. Having come up in adjacent circles, they've known each other for about a decade and discussed the similarities in their artistic trajectories. "We started on the internet, but so did Shawn Mendes, so did Justin Bieber, so did Charlie Puth — and no one talks about how they started," she says. "I think with a lot of women — like me, Madison and Nessa [Barrett] — that are trying to get into music, and it's like, 'You're just an Instagram model who wants to be an artist.'"

"It's just really frustrating because our lives are so centered around music," adds Lindemann. "Everyone's going to start on social media at this point. No one's just going to come out of nowhere and become an artist."

A few months after releasing PARANOIA, Lindemann launched into the creation of SUCKERPUNCH, drawing lyrical inspiration from feeling "lost" in her relationship with then-boyfriend Brandon Arreaga of the boy band PRETTYMUCH, music industry experiences and other early-20s life changes. "I was really lost for a second," she says. "I'm so scared of aging, so turning 23 and then 24, I was just like, 'Oh my God, I'm so stressed,' and I put it into the music."

Maggie Lindemann Says Women in Pop-Punk Are Equally Talented — 'If Not Better' — Than Male Artists B&W photo credit: Marina Hunter 3 color photo credits: Gabriel Perez Silva Album cover: Courtesy Swixxzaudio
Maggie Lindemann 'SUCKERPUNCH' Album Artwork. Courtesy Swixxzaudio

In May, Lindemann announced that she and Arreaga, 22, had officially split after three years together. But since the album was already finished, listeners won't find any lyrical references to the breakup throughout SUCKERPUNCH — nor any future projects, most likely, because it was amicable. "I'm very negative in my songwriting," she admits. "I like talking about sad s---, so I don't think I'll write a song about how good it ended."

At the end of previous relationships, Lindemann's found it difficult to see fans post photos and comments about the romances, but not this time around. "This is my first relationship that ended on genuinely good terms. I wish him nothing but the best," she says. "It didn't feel like a loss. It just felt like the chapter ended."

Standing by her side for the release of SUCKERPUNCH and its promotional cycle is NBA player Jordan Clarkson, whom Lindemann began dating over the summer. "He literally comes to all my s---. It's crazy because I'll be like, 'I'm going here,' and he's like, 'Oh, cool. When? I'm going to book a flight," she says with a smile. "It's been great. He's super supportive."

Maggie Lindemann (R) attends as Harper's BAZAAR and Bloomingdale's Host Fête
Maggie Lindemann and Jordan Clarkson. Cindy Ord/Getty

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Now that her debut album is finally out, Lindemann is entering a new era of her career, as she now feels fully connected to the majority of her musical output. Considering she's not exactly fond of her early singles, would she ever consider deleting them from streaming services for a fresh slate? "I've thought about it, but 'Pretty Girl' has a billion streams," she quips. "Why would I remove it? I've got to keep the bag."

As fans dive into the record, the musician wants them to spend time with its tracks and dig into each lyric to analyze its meaning. She considers songwriting to be the easiest way to communicate her emotions. "I don't talk about my feelings ever, so that's what I do in my music," says Lindemann. "I hope people hear me."

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