Maja Milner is punk’s newest power player—the Makthaverskan vocalist is not afraid to speak her mind, and she often does it without fear of the consequences. Makthaverskan’s music is filled with angst and attitude, but the focus on II—the band’s sophomore record that was released in May—is not so much on political situations or conflicts. Rather, it’s centered on being young and in love and making bad decisions when you feel the feels. The Swedish punk quintet—Maja, Irma Krook, Andreas "palle" Wettmark, Gustav Data Andersson and Hugo Randuluv—has been able to mold their music into something that is hard, cool, and capable of capturing Milner’s anger in a stream of consciousness. The gorgeous noise-pop melodies accentuate the emotive vocals, further showcasing the band’s unique ethos.
Makthaverskan hopes to come Stateside soon, and fans can already begin looking forward to a new album, which the band is planning to start working on soon as well. We had a chance to speak with Maja about gender inequality in music, moving to Berlin, and accidental pee consumption.
Noisey: What’s the meaning behind the name “Makthaverskan?”
Maja Milner: The band name just came from Hugo’s friend who made it up, and we thought it sounded cool, so we took it. The meaning is really hard to describe in English, but it’s the female form of someone with a lot of power. “Makthavare,” is the male version, so “makthaverskan” is the female version.
Do you think that describes you accurately? How does it describe you, if at all?
We didn’t have any background thoughts about meaning, but I think it describes Irma and me pretty well, since we both take charge and are powerful, if you know what I mean. I’m not so afraid of doing that at all. I do what I want, and I don’t really think about male and female in that sense.
Since this band name has a very powerful meaning, have you ever experienced gender inequality as a female musician?
Maybe, in my case, the opposite. I got irritated with people putting so much attention on [ideas] that “I was brave because I would scream” or “cooler than the other female artists.” That for me was weird because I think there are more male bands that are harder than us but don’t get described as cool. Of course there are always disadvantages being a woman in every part in music, so I’ve experienced that men want to take more space and they think that they know more. At the same time, I’ve gotten irritated that people put such an emphasis on the fact that I’m a woman and I scream, for example, just because I’m a woman. I just want there to be equality between men and women, know what I mean? I don’t think it really matters.
Image via Makthaverskan on
I totally get that. You had said you haven’t seen the band in a few years. How come?
I’ve seen them and we’ve played a few times, but it’s only been for the gigs. I moved to Berlin three years ago. I’ve been living here. I work, and I have my life here. Sometimes I go home and play, but it’s not so often. It’s more them rehearsing there now. Now we’re going to do a new push this year, but it’s been a bit different because I haven’t lived where they are.
You guys are all on good terms, right? There’s no bad blood?
No, definitely not. We’re still very close friends. There are no bad feelings. When I see them we have a lot of fun. It’s not so awkward. I was pretty clear when I moved I didn’t want to come back, so they knew it. [Laughs.]
That’s fair. How come you moved to Berlin?
I like the music scene here. I think it’s more open. It’s more of the kind of music that I personally like—electronic music and techno mainly. That’s a big scene here, of course. I really appreciate that environment more than in Sweden, where it’s mainly indie—which I also like. But it’s a bigger city, and I’ve been drawn to bigger cities.
It sounds like a great place for you. One of the catchiest tracks from II is “No Mercy,” and, to be quite frank, it sounds like some guy really fucked you over. You sing “Fuck you for fucking me/when I was 17/you never loved me/you wanted to own me.” How bad did this guy hurt you?
Of course I felt like that at the time. He was older, and it was a basic douchebag experience that I think every woman experiences. Sometimes the words just become too honest in real life, even for me. I never really thought about the consequences of those lyrics. That’s how I felt. It’s not like he broke my life—he’s a guy. He can’t break me. Of course, at the time I was angry with him, and I wanted to explain that kind of frustration. It’s more about the behavior, I suppose.
Was that your first love? Were you 17 when this all happened?
Yeah. At the time, yeah. Now when I experience love I can’t really relate to it, but at the time I didn’t know better. Yeah, he was my first love.
You wrote all of the lyrics. What inspired them?
I don’t sit down and write lyrics. I’ve never done that. We rehearsed, I sung stuff, and automatically I learned them. It’s stories of my own life. Some of them are more exaggerated, and the way you sing it can exaggerate the lyrics. It’s just stuff I think about—I want to tell a story in every song. I’m not a poet, so I don’t know, really. I just do what feels right.
What themes resonate in your songs?
Love, of course. And boys. [Laughs]. Even when I try to make a happy song, it turns out to be sad. Even when I try to make a happy, electronic dance song, it’s always going to be melancholy. I think I have a problem making happy songs, but I don’t know why.
With that being said, what’s the most powerful track on the record?
“Distance” is the most powerful, but “Outshine” is my favorite. “Distance” because it’s how I want the next album to sound like: it’s hard, dark, and cool. I also like “Outshine” because it reminds me of 90s or 80s music, like Blondie. It makes me want to go in a car and drive somewhere. It’s one of our happy songs, and I like that one too.
Image via Makthaverskan on Facebook
Nice choices. Who were some of your influences during the recording process of II? And who are you into right now?
At the time it was probably, Cocteau Twins, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Joy Division. We all have different influences, but those were the ones we all like. We also like Broder Daniel, a Swedish band. Now I have influences in the techno scene.
I heard you have a techno band now?
It’s not really techno. I have another band in Berlin with a guy. It’s more electronic music live—it’s melodies and stuff. Slowly but surely I’m making my own techno. We’re called Iberia.
How did Makthaverskan meet?
I met Hugo, the bass player, in school. Irma also went there. I met him in seventh grade. We were exchanging records, and we were the only ones with dark clothes.
So did you have a Goth phase?
I was what you would call Broder Daniel—“panda.” It’s dark hair and always black and white. It’s more pop, not Goth. Then we met Andreas because Hugo and Andreas skated together. Then we just started the band because it was fun. Andreas and Hugo started it, and I jumped in and started screaming. We needed a bass player so we took Irma.
What was it like playing clubs when you were underage? Did people knowing how young you were ever change their opinions of you guys?
I don’t think they knew. We played the real clubs, so the people booking us never knew we were under 18. They always expected we were over 18. The audience knew, but we always played in those clubs. We mainly played in over 18 clubs. Festivals we did with young people, and those fans were so devoted. It was mainly 18-year-olds, but it was very messy. There were mosh pits, blood, and weird stuff that came from the pop scene into the punk scene.
What was your craziest show experience?
I have one, but we decided not to talk about it. [Laughs]. It was in Norway. Everything went wrong. I was way too young, and we drank. It’s a fun memory, but there are always too many memories. There was always something weird happening. It was young people drinking too much and being too cocky. It was embarrassing, for especially me. There’s one story where we were drunk and my ex-boyfriend accidentally ate Irma’s ex-boyfriend’s pee. He didn’t do it on purpose. It was backstage. He accidentally ate it. There was a lot of weird and gross stuff happening that trip.
What do you want fans to get out of your music?
I just know that I want to make music, so I’m going to do it. People can take it how they will. I try not to think how people will take it because then you get disappointed or overthink stuff. Maybe when I do my solo project it will be more sensitive, but at the moment, I make music because it’s fun. I love to play and travel. Of course everyone wants to have a meaning, but the important thing for me is that it means something to me.
What would you say to girls who relate to “No Mercy” on some level?
If they are as young as I was, I would say it would get a lot better. It’s just not worth being with those kinds of men because they are obviously too stupid to get women their own age, so they have to find someone who is less secure. I would tell them to embrace their youth and try to sleep with young, hot guys instead of old, boring, and insecure guys.
Ilana Kaplan is someone with a lot of power. She's on Twitter - @lanikaps
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