Maggie Lindemann‘s rise to fame is a bit unique: before she’d even released her first single, she’d already amassed over a million followers on Instagram. Yet while some social media stars build a following and then decide to pursue music, Lindemann has been a musician all along. When it came time to release her debut single “Knocking On Your Heart” in 2015, it was “super nerve-wracking”: would her followers realize she’d been pursuing music all along?

What wasn’t nerve-wracking, though, was the decision to move from her native Texas out to Los Angeles a few months before the single was released. Her approach to songwriting has changed in the years since, and while she writes about whatever she is going through, she also hopes to be a positive force with her music.

Maggie Lindemann started things off at Day 2 of the recent Billboard Hot 100 Festival, though she was on-site the day before for our interview. Below, she talks about her hit song “Pretty Girl”, coming of age on social media, and what inspires her.

Maggie Lindemann

Substream: You’re here doing press today, but you perform tomorrow- so you can be in this headspace today and tomorrow be focused on your performance. I’ve always been on the side of asking the questions, and getting people to talk about themselves- so I appreciate any time an artist opens up, whether it’s in their songwriting or in an interview. For you, does it feel more vulnerable being open in an interview or in a song?

Maggie Lindemann: I don’t know. I like to be more open in my music cuz I feel like my music is where people are really listening and paying attention. I don’t really ever feel weird opening up- I just would rather open up in my music.

Substream: You had gained a huge following on social media by the time you had even released your first single. Did having that backing of people that are following you and interested in what you were doing as a person give you any confidence when you released it or was it nerve-wracking like, “There’s already so many people that are paying attention”?

ML: I think it was super nerve-wracking because on social media now a lot of people don’t really do anything- like it’s purely them on social media. So a lot of people are turning to music as something to do- and it’s not really what they want to do, it’s just what they feel like is the easiest.

Substream: But you’ve always been a musician.

ML: Yeah, exactly. But I was really nervous that people weren’t going to realize that I had been doing this and that this is really what I love to do and what I’ve always wanted to do. I didn’t want people to think that I took this career lightly or I thought it was easy or anything like that. So I think that was the most nerve-wracking thing for me. But I know my fans [are] very supportive, they’ve always been super supportive of me- so I wasn’t nervous about that.

Substream: What inspires you as an artist? Either other artists or just anything in general.

ML: What inspires me is just what I’m going through. It’s all about what’s happening in my life and what’s the current status of my life and that’s what I like to write about and talk about.

Substream: Over the past few years since you’ve released a couple singles, how has your approach to writing and making music changed?

ML: At first I was talking about the heartbreak and boys and just being very sad and I think my mindset was, “You’re gonna write a song and it needs to be about a breakup, about a boy.” Now it’s more what I’m feeling and how I can bring others up. I don’t want people to listen to my music when they’re sad, you know? I want it to be like, “Oh, I’m upset and I’m gonna turn on [Maggie Lindemann] to lift me up”- I wanna be that person that you party to or you have fun to, so I think my approach has changed in that way- just being more positive. Of course I’m gonna have some sad songs- but I’m trying to focus on being positive.

Substream: When you’re having a rough day and you need something to lift you up, what music do you turn to?

ML: I always turn on hip-hop when I’ve had a bad day. I know this sounds weird but what they’re saying about them being a boss and being so confident… makes me feel better cuz I’m like, “Ohh, yeahh!”– like, “Oh I’m doing this, you’re doing that.” It makes me feel a little empowered.

Substream: Especially as I’ve been thinking about everyone who’s performing today, like Demi Lovato, a lot more people are focusing on confidence and building that and empowerment- which I think is really cool.

Can you tell me a little bit about the song “Pretty Girl” for people who might not be familiar?

ML: It’s about being more than what people see on social media or what people see in the public eye or the press. We all have backgrounds, we all have stories, we’re all going through something, we’ve all been through something- so it was just being more than what people judge you for, based on what you look like or based on the things you post- it’s just about being more than that.

People [have been] super supportive of the song- I’m always getting comments about how people listen to the song every day to lift themselves up and it makes them feel confident. Of course I’ve had some negative ones but not everyone’s gonna like your music. Everyone has a different taste; overall it’s been amazing.

Substream: When you come across that negativity, how do you respond to that?

ML: Sometimes it definitely gets to me because some of the stuff they say hurts with certain things- but I try to just not let it get to me and I try to focus on the positives and remember what I’m doing and not give in to that.

Substream: You’ve released several singles so far but you have not put out an album yet. Is either an album or an EP something we could see in the near future?

ML: Oh yeah, for sure- I’m definitely working on a bigger project and I’m super excited for it. Just been in the studio working and hopefully something soon- I can’t really talk much about it but soon there will be something.

Substream: Well that’s pretty exciting!

So you are from Texas originally, but you’ve been living in Los Angeles for a few years now. When did you decide to make that move?

ML: When I started doing music and being in the studio a lot I moved because it was just too hard going back and forth. I moved out to LA a few months before my first single came out.

Substream: You were still in high school at that time- how was that transition, making that career move when you’re still in school?

ML: I mean I did online school already, so it wasn’t that crazy at all. So when I moved I still did online and then I graduated so it was really not that bad.

Substream: Well thank you Maggie! Summer is wrapping up- what can fans look out for as we’re heading in to the fall?

ML: Just more traveling, more music, and hopefully some shows.

Maggie Lindemann

Keep up with Maggie Lindemann by following her on Twitter and Instagram, and check her official website for all updates.