With lonely “key guys” and clever metaphors involving cheap alcohol, sophomore international studies major Maggie Pakutka has proven herself a talent worth watching.
Playing under the name “Maggie and the Hat” (M.A.T.H.), Maggie’s demo “Rooftop Garden” is a playground of witty lyrics and catchy, yet raw acoustic riffs that range from upbeat pop rock, to slower, folk reflections.
The self-proclaimed singer/songwriter began playing guitar at age seven, and started writing her own songs before entering high school. According to Pakutka, she was influenced at an early age by giants such as Weezer and Green Day, but shifted to primarily “girl fronted bands” such as Sleater-Kinney and singer Jenny Owen Youngs in high school, a change that is certainly reflected in her current music. Though Youngs’ influence is evident perhaps in her thoughtful approach to pop music with a message, her sound is unmistakably her own creation.
“When I’m playing and writing I try to go for an acoustic-y pop sound. If I can make something catchy, so that people remember it, it’s a good thing,” she said.
“I Wanna Be Your Plans,” the second track appearing on her demo, is testimony to this, combining fast-paced vocals with buoyant chords and occasional tambourine. “Blue Moons” and “Smoke” flesh out a more folk-rock sound, while “Boxed” blends this slower, somber feel with an emotionally charged “distorted, muted guitar” as percussion.
In addition to an authentic sound, Pakukta also boasts a distinctive stage name likely to draw attention. The source of “the hat,” according to Pakutka, is actually her former shyness.
“When I first started performing, I was really shy, so I always wore a hat to kind of get over this. I have since lost the hat, but I am plagued by the question everywhere I turn,” she joked. However, any trace of uncertainty is absent from her strongly delivered lyrics and passionate performances.
When asked what her plans are for the future, Pakutka said that she plans to continue working on her music. Specifically she said she also plans to release a full-length album entitled “Maggie and the Hat is People!”
“I can’t imagine myself not doing this. Ideally I will be doing this as my job, making money, but touring and making cds is definitely on the horizon, even if it’s DIY (do it yourself).”