Maggie Szabo... "the idea of a new adventure would be good for my music"...
PR: What inspires you to write songs and what is your songwriting process? I read you came to L.A. to collaborate with other songwriters. How has that been going and what has been your experience been like? Also did you make the trip to New York already to work with a producer and how did that go? What was the result of that meeting?
MS: The thing that inspires me to write songs is pretty much my life: relationships, love and everything I have gone through. I think growing up, too, songwriting and music was how I learned to deal with things. It was my outlet. It’s from past experience. I write a lot about love and relationships. That’s the inspiration and where it comes from. As far as my process goes, every song is different. Sometimes I'll start with an idea. It will wake me up in the middle of the night and I'll have to write it down or record it on my phone. Sometimes I'll co-wrote with other people. It’s like a therapy session. We talk about life and certain songs come out of it. It’s always different but unique in it’s own way.
MS: The thing I love about L.A. is that there are so many creative people. It’s so inspiring and it allows me to meet other people and make more music. I’m from a small town called Dundas, Ontario and it’s a great place to grow up in, but thing I found difficult, was there wasn't a lot of people to write with. There wasn't as much of a community as I have found in L.A. It’s one of the things that drew me in here. There is just so much talent. I could spend all day, every single day, writing with a new person if I wanted to. It’s been an amazing process.
MS: With collaborators, when I came here I didn't know a single soul in L.A. I kind of had to start from scratch again. It's basically through connections and there were people that knew some songwriters out here. They would kind of connect me and then I would connect the dots. I’m really just networking and playing out. I’m meeting as many people as I can.
MS: I went to New York in August and recorded two new songs I wrote. I worked with a producer Eran Tabib. He was a bass player in the Spin Doctors. He’s amazing producer, musician and songwriter. I met him through a mutual friend in L.A. We started to Skype for eight months every two days. I was in a heavy songwriting mode. I would share my songs with him, and from there, we picked two of our favorite songs. The crazy thing is that I’m still close to him. I didn't even know him the time I was talking to him and collaborating with him. It was all through Skype. So finally in August, I flew to New York and we ended up going to Sear Sound in Manhattan and recorded the two songs and it was amazing. We worked on these songs for a couple of weeks while I was there. We dove into the creative process with the production. The thing that drew me to Eran as a producer is that he is really into soul and very spiritual. I think for my writing and music, I needed that. It’s a great compliment to have. Because I’m a songwriter, he understood where I was coming from. We were able to connect on a different level.
MS: I play piano and guitar. With composing, it can go either way. I’m not an amazing pianist or guitar player. I love writing with people that play those instruments well. I feel more emotional and heartfelt songs work on the piano. More upbeat and fun songs work on the guitar.
PR: I read you were fearful about moving from Canada to L.A. And they experience has to do with you writing the song, "Tidal Waves and Hurricanes." You've been living out here a year and half. Are you more comfortable now and confident, if so why?
MS: The town I come from has literally 20,000 people. Moving here to a huge city and I’m not being used to, and it’s a different country, makes it very hard with the transition. I still knew from the beginning, it was the right decision to make. The whole idea of a new adventure would be good for my music. Tidal Waves did come out of that experience. I wrote the song with my other Canadian friend that happens to be in L.A., too.
PR: What singers or songwriters have influenced your vocal style and you as an artist and why?
MS: Growing up I loved and was really inspired by Carole King. I have always felt connected to her songs. Gordon Lightfoot is another one. He’s Canadian, too. I think his lyrics are brilliant. I remember being 10 years old and going to see him at a concert in Toronto and play live. One of my favorite songs is “If You Could Read My Mind.” My parents took me to go see him. When he played it live, I was like OMG inside and I can’t handle it. Also Bryan Adams that happens to be Canadian, too. Current artists I love now are Frank Ocean, Sam Smith, Justin Timberlake and John Mayer. I love their voices and songwriting.
PR: How did it feel to win The Toronto Independent Music Award for Best Pop?
MS: It was great thing. I won for "Tidal Waves and Hurricanes." People understood the song and felt something from it.
PR: What's next for Maggie Szabo?
MS: I just finished recording and writing an EP called Truth and it hasn't been released yet. I released a bunch of independent EPs in high school. After high school, I was living in Nashville, TN and released an EP then. Then I got signed to a record label in Canada and released a full-length album through them. So this will be officially my second album. The date is to be determined but it will be soon. Making music videos and touring is next. Ideally, my goal is to get on a label out here especially being in pop is beneficial. I would like to open for someone like Sam Smith or Ed Sheeran or Justin Timberlake. I feel now with music because so much of it is based online, artists have more control in their hands with reaching fans. I've been growing my fan base and group of supporters and it steadily grows.
PR: I noticed you are going for a sexier look in your publicity photos. Is that a conscious decision? In some of your photos, you accentuate your earthiness and being natural. What are your thoughts on that? Do you feel pressure to present a certain look or image?
MS: I definitely feel especially in L.A., you can get easily caught up in it because there are so many beautiful people out here. I think I’m more aware of how people look at you. It’s important to maintain a certain image, represent yourself and your music. In "Tidal Waves and Hurricanes," the song in itself is more earthy and talking about the earth. Like the concept of how the video is written. It’s a reflection of who I would be organically. The new photos are just me having fun. It’s a new direction, I think. And as my music continues to grow, so does my image, style and clothes change. And if it didn't, life would be so boring.
Photo credit: Ian Maxion http://www.maxionstudios.com
Performance Review by Harriet Kaplan
Canadian-born Maggie Szabo is powerful vocalist with a soulful pop style that writes deep and meaningful songs about love and relationships. Szabo is gifted at finding different aspects, ways and angles to analyze how she may have chosen the wrong boyfriend at one time or another and how that decision has personally affected her. As she described in an interview with Punch Records US, Szabo explained working through these challenges are like therapy sessions in crafting the songs with her collaborators, and as a result, becomes a cathartic release based on the source material drawn intimately through the portal of her life. Easy solutions are not found to make the better choice the next time, but she keeps believing in the power of love, and tries again. Like we all do, therefore, the songs strike a resonant chord and are universally thematic. Watching the petite, blonde haired singer/songwriter perform live at Hotel Cafe, one feels like they are eavesdropping her innermost thoughts and feelings. The audience doesn't sit in judgment but is instead the objective silent party/counselor just listening and turning inward to self reflect on a similar experience they may be able to relate to. Each song from her upcoming album, “Truth”, takes you on a rollercoaster ride through Szabo’s first-hand experiences. "Forgive and Forget" was a standout number delving into conflicting emotions of a connection that didn't pan out with both insight, maturity and intelligence. Sometimes the mood is pensive and somber driven by the bare piano chords on "Touch The Ground" and "Take Your Time." Supported by Szabo's full band with Aaron Aiken and Steve Shock on guitars, Sonny Kennelly on bass, Frank Grande on keyboards, Sam Campbell on drums and Chantel McCrary on backing vocals, the band creates a driving and dynamic sound around the high-energy, radio-friendly "Tidal Waves and Hurricanes" which lyrically transcends the pain, confusion and isolation of shaking up one's life and making significant changes seem triumphant and celebratory.