Veronica Maggio – Sweden’s new soul sister

Sweden’s newest music sensation, Veronica Maggio, talks to The Local’s Jennifer Heape about nerves, female solidarity and exploring her darker side.

Veronica Maggio - Sweden's new soul sister
Photo: Jennifer Heape/The Local

Her soulful tunes and honest lyrics could draw comparisons with the troupe of young women singer-songwriters currently emerging from the UK music scene, such as Laura Marling, Kt Tunstall and Adele. Certainly the old-school jazz and soul influence on her songs, draws a clear connection to British artist Duffy.

Indeed her second album, Och Vinnaren Är (And the Winner Is) released earlier this year, frequently tilts an appreciatory nod to Maggio’s jazz background: “I sang a lot of standards when I was say 14 to 17 when my voice was developing and I was finding my own style…I’ve tried out a lot of different genres in music but I think jazz has been the biggest influence for me”.

Despite such analogies to other, international artists, Maggio is very much a Swedish singer. “I’ve done lots of songs in English but I’ve never recorded or released them”.

She adds: “I kinda felt like I was writing songs for someone else. It must be the language barrier or something, but I never really felt that they were my words, but that I was just repeating things that I had heard somewhere else. I feel more at home with Swedish I guess”.

Whichever language Maggio decides to sing in, the whole-hearted veracity of her music is unmistakable. She achieves a wonderful vulnerability and endearing naivety of tone in her songs whilst doggedly examining the reality of human relations.

Although a self-confessed “very happy person”, Maggio describes how her songs, in contrast to their jazzy, upbeat rhythms, often steer towards the darker side of human emotion lyrically.

“My songs can be positive in a way, but there is always that melancholy side – I like to use minor chords and so on. I always tend to like that sort of stuff and it always seems to get my imagination going”.

In contrast to her typically Scandinavian wholesomeness – loosely waved blonde hair, healthily glowing skin and an understated, yet artfully fashionable, outfit – Maggio is a woman not afraid of showing her edginess.

In the video for her most recent hit, Stopp, Maggio dons a pair of somewhat disconcerting gloves made from scissors and knives. “It’s because I saw the Edward Scissorhands movie just a few weeks before” explains Maggio:

“The song is about loving somebody that you were with and then realizing that you want that person back desperately and you can’t do anything about it. The more you try to get that person to love you, the further away they move from you… So I thought that the scissor hands was a good metaphor for how when you hurt somebody and you hurt yourself, you can’t really touch that person at all”.

With a mischievous smile Maggio also concedes that she wanted to experiment with a more sinister character for this production. “I wanted it to be a bit psycho too, a bit like a scary stalker person! I didn’t want cute, I wanted to be a little scary for this video”.

However, in the flesh, Maggio is a delight to talk to and both a funny, grounded, and very modest young woman. On her recent nomination for the MTV Europe Music Awards as Best Swedish Act, Maggio simply comments: “Yeah that’s nice, there were so many acts so I was really surprised that they picked me.

“But I’m the only girl so I think I should win”, she says with a good-natured chuckle. “I hope I’ll get all the female votes – a bit of female solidarity!”

It’s not just for awards that Maggio is rather self-deprecating – she is still racked by nerves when appearing on stage, despite her love of singing live.

“When I come to a show and it’s empty, I always worry that no one will turn up. I’m like ‘oh no, it’s only going to be us and 10 others! I was so nervous when I played in Malmo recently. It was such a big venue and I was totally freaking out and then 5,000 people turned up! In the end I almost couldn’t hear myself singing because they all knew the lyrics and were joining in. That was a real moment for me”.

In talking to Maggio, it becomes rapidly apparent that she is truly passionate about live performance and the creative process. On writing, and the inspiration behind it, she says:

“I love just having a blank page and knowing that I want to make something from it, and then you start writing and something comes out – I love the feeling of not knowing what is going to happen”.

There is the distinct feeling that although the release of her second album has brought her considerable success and recognition, it is also a very much a beloved and personal achievement for Maggio:

“I feel the pressure to start making a new album like now, now, now. But I still like this album too much, I’m afraid I just end up making another one just like it. I want to start hating the songs a little bit before I start writing again“.

Maggio is an artist replete with contradictions: soulful jazz scores offset by modern drum beats, an international musicality sung resolutely in Swedish. But upon meeting her, surely her greatest contradiction lies between the assured, original and edgy singer-songwriter and someone who seems to rather not believe her luck.

When asked to reveal the highlight of the past few years, Maggio endearingly and simply answers: “I think when I realized that I could really do it, when I started writing and it really clicked…that was the highlight”.

See also:

Veronica Maggio – The videos

Photo gallery


What are the best concerts in Sweden this autumn?

Now that Sweden has lifted its audience restrictions for public events, The Local's Paul O'Mahony lists his recommendations for the best gigs to attend over the coming months.

Crowd at a music concert in Debaser, Stockholm
Crowds return to Stockholm venue Debaser after pandemic restrictions on events were lifted. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Sweden’s musicians, concert promoters and venue operators have struggled to varying degrees through the pandemic. One surefire way to help get them back on their feet is to give organisers and artists the financial reassurance they need by pre-booking concerts. 

Of course these recommendations only apply if you feel safe attending large events; remember that you should stay home and take a Covid-19 test if you experience any symptoms that could be linked to the virus, even if vaccinated. And make sure to check with organisers if there are any specific coronavirus requirements you need to be aware of. 

Coming up: top gigs in Sweden over the next few months 

As a regular gig-goer, live music is the one thing I’ve missed most over the past year and a half. So it is with some excitement (and, I’ll admit, a degree of trepidation) that I prepare to go see Norwegian band Pom Poko this Friday at Hus 7 in Stockholm. Their melodic art-punk album Cheater sparked the year into life on its release in January. They’re also playing Plan B in Malmö on Saturday night

Plan B is also the venue when Squid hit Sweden with a thrilling dose of post-punk on October 15th. Tickets remain available for the show at the time of writing (an absolute steal at 120 kronor), though that’s sadly not the case in Stockholm where their October 16th gig at Melodybox sold out a long time ago. (Although you can sign up to be added to a waiting list). 

Another artist well worth checking out in October is Gothenburg guitarist and singer Amanda Werne, better known as Slowgold. Her live shows are great and she is embarking on a Swedish tour on October 8th. 

Emma-Jean Thackray, one of the UK’s most interesting jazz artists, will be at Fasching in Stockholm on October 15th

For the best kind of sonic assault, Anna von Hasswolff’s band Bada are scheduled to play in Stockholm, Malmö and Gothenburg in late October. 

Have any of you ever seen Gothenburg electronic veterans Little Dragon live? I haven’t but might check them out in November when they swing by Malmö, Stockholm and Gothenburg

Amason are also heading out on the road for a Scandinavian tour in November. If you haven’t heard Amanda Bergman’s voice in a live setting before this will be a treat. 

The inimitable Sibille Attar released her superb second album A History of Silence at the start of the year and she’s finally getting the chance to play her eighties-inspired gems live at Slaktkyrkan in Stockholm on November 18th

Cassandra Jenkins long lurked in the background as a musician in touring bands for people like Eleanor Friedberger and Purple Mountains. But this year’s album An Overview on Phenomenal Nature has really established her as an artist to be reckoned with in her own right. She’s coming to Södra Teatern in Stockholm on November 26th

Always popular in this part of the world, The Jesus and Mary Chain return to Sweden for dates in Stockholm and Gothenburg at the end of November

Wry Finland-Swedish indie outfit Vasas Flora och Fauna have some of the funniest (Swedish) lyrics and catchiest tunes around. They’ll be in Stockholm and Gothenburg the first weekend of December

UK experimental rockers Black Midi are also playing Stockholm and Gothenburg on December 4th and 5th. So prepare to travel if you want to catch both them and Vasas Flora and Fauna. 

As if that wasn’t enough, Bob Hund’s annual ‘week 48’ show also takes place on December 4th. But that has been sold out for ages so no decisions to make there. It is also worth noting though that Sweden’s hardest working band has also written a musical that’s going to be performed in Helsingborg (October-November) and Gothenburg (November)

Bonus: For a post-Christmas pick-me-up try to get down to Little Simz at Slaktkyrkan on January 14th if you’re in Stockholm. The UK rapper’s new album Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is one of this year’s best releases. 

Selected artists playing Sweden in 2022: Henry Rollins, Sarah Klang, Yann Tiersen, Mogwai, Pearl Charles, Wolf Alice, Lloyd Cole, Lord Huron, Future Islands, Josh Rouse + Vetiver, Tricky, Snail Mail, Porridge Radio, Aldous Harding, Shame, The Kooks, The War on Drugs, Echo and the Bunnymen, Kings of Convenience, Fontaines D.C., Alex Cameron, Lucy Dacus, The Divine Comedy, Mdou Moctar, Iggy Pop, Chubby and the Gang, Sparks, Belle & Sebastian, The National, Sharon Van Etten, Teenage Fanclub, Tindersticks, Suede, Viagra Boys, Pavement. 

For bigger arena shows, Ticketmaster covers a lot of the bases. Big-name acts with gigs in the offing include Ed Sheeran, Zara Larsson, Whitesnake and, lest we forget, ABBA

And that’s just a fraction of what’s going on. Tour schedules are busier than ever now that artists are finally getting back on the road. To keep track of what gigs are coming up I can recommend checking in with Luger, FKP Scorpio, and Live Nation. Follow your favourite venues too: sometimes they cut out the middleman and do their own booking and promotion. I also use the Bandsintown app, which comes with the added bonus of receiving messages from your favourite artists which let you pretend to be their friend. 

Enjoy the gigs, and stay safe! 

Paul O’Mahony is editorial product manager at The Local. In his spare time he plays the best new indie and alternative music as host of the Signals show on Nerve Music.