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Life & Work with Steel Maggie

Today we’d like to introduce you to Steel Maggie.

Hi Steel Maggie, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I’m 28 years old, and I’m the demigoddess of dance pop. I create bittersweet and bold dance pop for the minimally sane, moderately restless, and the significantly idealistic. My music sounds like if Allie X had a child with Lady Gaga and they fed that child a steady diet of Marina, Chris, and Katy Perry. I’m as pop as pop gets, but it’s pop that helps you find yourself on the dance floor. I started pursuing my career “late” by “industry” standards. No, you’re not seeing things – there are razor sharp teeth in those quotation marks. When I was 18, I was feeling out of place and lost in college. It was 2011, and Lady Gaga had just put out the Born This Way album. Everything about Born This Way, Gaga’s musical, lyrical, and visual aesthetic around the album, the ethos; the album’s overall effect on me showed me that I was meant to do something, be something bigger. I was meant to write, perform, sing, create beautiful things. My best friend told me to go all in. So I did. I started writing. I played every cover under the sun. I joined choirs and ensembles, trying to find my solo voice along the way. When I was finding my own voice and really honing in on what I wanted to sound like versus trying to copy everyone else – I realized I was trying to put the gravitas of the male rock and roll vocal into female vocal chords; apparently that doesn’t read well! I loved the attitude and sex appeal and the power behind Def Leppard’s Joe Elliot’s vocals, but imitating that style made me sound so forced and fake. I just had to laugh at myself when I realized I was trying to sound like a man trying to sound like a female pop singer. And learned from that – I was able to carve out attitude and sex appeal in my own way vocally in the end.

One of the facets of my career is vocal performance coaching, so I now pass my knowledge forward by coaching new/developing artists who are trying to find their own unique vocal sound in their original music.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
It has never been a smooth road, in the expected terms, but I don’t see the road as rough either, at least not anymore. As Paul Anka wrote, more than ever, I will have done it “my way.” Funny that you use the word “road” in this question. My most recent song I released, called “Out of Eden,” has a line in the chorus that goes; “on the open road I can ride in line, or I can free my soul.” I’ve been on many paths in this career for the past decade, and none of them have been more intimidating than where I walk right now. But the priority of my life, my purpose, is to be an example of committing to exactly who I am at all parts of the journey. I’ve struggled with substance abuse, mental health issues, and narcissistically abusive relationships. I’ve been the cheater and the cheated. Things changed about a year ago when I had a revelation. As humans, especially artists, we are attached to struggle. We define ourselves by how much we’ve been through and for how long. What happens when we have the courage to step outside of the comfort of struggle, the illusion of dysfunction? Once we transcend that identity struggle created by the false dichotomy of success and failure, we find we have nothing to sell. And so we float downstream, or rather, ride out on the open road. What we believe about ourselves is all there is, anyway.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I’m a songwriter, performer, vocalist, and vocal performance coach. What I’m most proud of is that I’ve been there – I’ve experienced the valleys and the highs and the plateaus that art and performance require, not just for my own music output but also for my voice clients. I tell my listeners the real stories, things I’ve actually said and done, no matter how shameful or embarrassing or devastating (or inspiring), in the aim that in seeing the full picture in me, they’re able to follow my example and find the courage to own every cell of who they are. I’ll let my voice crack and I’ll sound “bad” in front of a client in order to show them the extent of what is possible – if I can sound bad sometimes and sound fantastic most of the time, if I can do it in front of others, they can be vulnerable in the moment and breach their own vocal comfort zone in order to reach the breakthrough sound they truly desire.

Can you talk to us about how you think about risk?
Risk-taking is the only way we move forward. It’s really the only way we can be alive. I believe that as long as I’m dipping into the risk pool regularly, I can be confident that I’m not staying stuck and stagnant in my life. I’d say there’s nothing more risky than letting a year pass and still being in the exact same spot mentally or emotionally. Maybe we’re always risking or sacrificing something in our lives, but depending on what we value or what we believe we will gain taking the risk makes it all worth it. I took some financial and career risks in 2020. Those didn’t pan out in the external world, but they taught me everything I needed to know at the time from the internal perspective. I’m a new version of myself, I’ve experienced deeper parts of who I am, and I actually know what self-value and self-love feel like now. If I had the choice, I’d consider it the biggest sacrifice of my life to NOT take the risks I took.

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Image Credits:

Tim Gutierrez

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