Raised up in the small town of Dundas, Ontario, about 50 miles west of Niagara Falls, singer/songwriter Maggie Szabo began practicing her craft at a young age. Following her high school graduation, she moved to Nashville, where she worked diligently to hone her writing and performing abilities, and in 2011, she became a YouTube sensation when her performance of LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” with Walk Off The Earth went viral. Maggie released her debut album, Now Hear Me Out, in November of 2012, and the single “Lovesick” garnered heavy rotation on Canadian airwaves. After being selected as Bell Media’s Emerging Artist and beating out thousands of competitors to win pop culture blogger Perez Hilton’s “Can YOU Sing?” contest, Maggie was hailed as a budding superstar.
Since relocating to Los Angeles, Maggie has performed to sold-out crowds at the Viper Room, House of Blues and at the famed Hotel Café, and in 2014, her newest single, the irresistibly exuberant “Tidal Waves and Hurricanes,” was premiered exclusively by Ryan Seacrest. Maggie was the recipient of the 2014 Toronto Independent Music Award for Best Pop and was the Pop/Top 40 winner for the International Songwriting Competition, and in early 2016, her soulful vocals will be featured on acclaimed German electronic artist Schiller’s album Future.
What was your childhood like, and how did it help to shape who you are today?
I grew up in Dundas, Ontario with my parents, two sisters and my grandmother. She had a huge impact on my life, and I feel really lucky that she helped raise us. She and my grandfather were born in Europe, and immigrated to Canada when my dad was a teenager. They’re Hungarian, and that culture and their values heavily influenced how I grew up.
Ever since I was about three, my dream was to be a musician. My parents and grandmother always supported that, and aside from my focus on that, they were always strict when it came to school. I think that taught me the value of hard work, which is one of the most important things to have a career in this business.
Who are your biggest creative influences, and in what ways have you incorporated those influences into your own sound?
I grew up loving soul, R&B and jazz music. In middle school, I was the vocalist for our neighboring city’s Junior Jazz Band, which was a big influence on the kind of music I make today. Even though my music is mainstream, there are definitely a lot of soul and jazz influences.
How did you grow as a musician during your time in Nashville?
Nashville was an amazing place for me to grow as a musician as well as a songwriter. I’m from a small town, and even though there is a supportive music community there, moving to Nashville was a reality check. There are SO many amazing musicians and songwriters there that it really inspired me to work hard to take my craft to another level. I learned a lot being surrounded by so many talented creative people.
How did you first become acquainted with Walk Off the Earth?
While I was living in Nashville, I wrote and recorded an EP which caught the attention of a record label in Ontario called Linus Entertainment. I ended up signing with them, and one of the A&Rs at my record label introduced me to Walk Off the Earth because they are from Burlington, Ontario, which is really close to where I grew up. When I met with them, they were just super fun and creative and we ended up creating a fun concept for our “Party Rock Anthem” video.
What was the recording process like for Now Hear Me Out?
The recording process for my first album was really amazing. I think for anyone, recording a first album and having a label involved is a really exciting adventure. Because I had lived in Nashville and wrote so many songs there, I recorded a lot of my album there too. It was really fun to be able to record at some amazing recording studios in Nashville, as well as Toronto. I was able to incorporate both worlds.
Which venues have you most enjoyed performing at?
My favourite venue I have performed at is Hotel Café in Los Angeles. It’s this great little venue right in Hollywood, and it’s always been a place where I love going back to. The vibe is very cool, the sound is great, and it’s a really well respected spot.
When you’re in need of inspiration, where do you turn?
When I’m in need of inspiration, I kind of just take a step back and look at what I’m currently going through, or something that I’ve gone through before that has affected who I am. I’ve had my fair share of adventures when it comes to relationships, love, life, and everything in-between. Sometimes I get inspired from friends, or from what other people are going through as well if it has made an impact on me emotionally.
What’s the best song you’ve heard recently?
Even though it’s an older song of his, I was running the other day and I had John Mayer on shuffle. His song “Comfortable” came on and, even though I’ve heard it so many times before (I’m a huge fan of his music), I am still always so drawn in to his lyrics and melody. He has a great way of telling a story in that song.
What do you miss most about Dundas?
The thing I miss most about Dundas is my family. I’m super close with them, and the hardest thing about living in Los Angeles is not being able to see them all the time.
Aside from music, what are you most passionate about?
I mean, music pretty much takes up my entire life, but aside from that, health and fitness is one of my other escapes. I run and do crossfit regularly. It makes me feel good, keeps me healthy, and I have fun doing it. When I first moved to L.A. I didn’t really know anybody, and joining a crossfit gym in West Hollywood actually introduced me to a lot of great people. I’m thankful for that.
What are you working on next?
I’m actually headed to Europe in a few days to go to a writing camp in Santorini, Greece. After that, I’m off to Berlin and Amsterdam to do some songwriting and to work with a couple of producers there. When I get back to Los Angeles, I’ll actually be shooting a music video for my next single, which I am very excited about!