Maxida Märak is someone who’s difficult to ignore.
As an artist, she is uncompromising and has done much to expose the injustices and struggles of Sweden’s indigenous population. So much so that her activism informed the hit Nordic Noir series, Midnight Sun. But she’s not finished yet.
Maxida very kindly took some time out to answer our questions …
How did you first start performing?
I have always been on stage, one way or another. It definitely runs in the family. I was probably just six when I did stage performing, and I did acting when I was very little.
You started with rap and hip-hop. Was that an unusual place to be in as a woman considering most artists who perform this genre are men?
No, in Sweden women rule the hip-hop industry I would say. The music industry is not equal, but some of the best hip-hop artists in Sweden are female.
What was it like to grow up as a Sami? Did you experience much racism and discrimination?
Yes, it’s very divided up in the north. It all comes down to politics, and Sweden has a very dark history when it comes to how you treat your natives. Like the US, Canada, Greenland … you see it everywhere. Sweden does not set a good example. Nowadays we struggle with politics and rules that were made up when racism was more accepted. It’s sad to say that we have a really bad climate in Sweden today as well with racists in the parliament.
Do you see your work as a musician as political?
I do music because I love music, but with more media power comes a bigger responsibility. I can’t have a platform like I have and not use it. And, when I grew up, no Sámi ever took a stand in the media. So I decided to become that one. Now I see some other Sámi artists wanting to do the same, and that’s about time.
You recently starred in the Nordic Noir series, Midnight Sun, playing a Sami artist, Evelina. What was your view of the show? Did you think it did a good job at bringing the plight of other Sami people to a wide audience?
I loved it. Evelina is based on me, Maxida Märak. The rebel group in the show is based on my own rebel group. They copied all of the real things I have done, and put it in the show. That’s powerful … I must have done something right.
What are your hopes for Sami people? Are you optimistic that awareness will grow?
I am. We belong to a generation of education. We need to be in the powerful positions such as lawyers, journalists, the police, parliament and so on. Nothing will change until we take power back. They forced our ancestors and parents to be silent. They can’t force us.
MY SCANDINAVIA … Maxida’s top five favourite places
Padjelanta Sarek: Huge mountains, black lakes and deep valleys. The land of the reindeers. That´s where my heart is. And the land of my ancestors.
Lofoten, Norway and the beach, Haukland. One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. It’s like Lord Of The Rings gone crazy.
Gotland, Sweden. The closest you get to south Europe-beaches. And a fantastic landscape that really shifts from east to west in its structure.
Stockholm, Sweden. I love this city. Walking around in Gamla Stan, and along the water a late summer night, seeing Djurården and Gröna Lund across the water. Magical.
Österlen, Sweden. A beautiful flat landscape and blossoming nature. The ocean is near, along with some real great fish markets.