In May, mxmtoon released her new album rising into the world, a collection of songs that argue growth is always evolving. The album has been streamed more than 20 million times since then and received critical acclaim including Song Exploder’s deep dive into “mona lisa’, and showed the singer-songwriter-producer-podcaster and social activist reaching new heights creatively. Today, mxmtoon has announced a deluxe version of rising to be released September 16th.
Maia tells us “rising is everything i love packaged into a project, and what better way to expand and build upon that than by releasing deluxe tracks to go with the original twelve. i know that my sense of who i am is ever evolving, and i hope to get that idea across to the people that listen to my music as often as i can. both tracks being added serve the function of building on more to the story of me. “kaleidoscope” being about the wildly vast facets of self that we as people can inhabit, and “plastic pony” covering the realization that life can sometimes slip through our fingers. both lend themselves to the narrative rising tells, while leaving the next chapter of mxmtoon open for exploration! enjoy xo.”
rising (the deluxe) features two new songs “plastic pony” as well as a new single “kaleidoscope” which is out today.
Maia tells us “i don’t think it’s any secret that societal expectations of women are limiting, one-dimensional, and completely absurd. i grew up in a family that encouraged my creativity and individuality, but that didn’t shelter me completely from the sexism of the outer world. as i’ve grown up, i’ve had time to reflect on my journey so far and the identities i’ve held throughout it. being a woman is something i feel immensely proud of, but it’s also something that the world at large has relentlessly held against me and so many others. women are a diverse and beautiful group of people who embody perseverance and bravery, and i wanted to honor that with “kaleidoscope.” i have bent my being until i’m broken for the sake of fitting a mold set for me by others, and i know i’m not the only one. my hope is that this song can embody the softness, strength, fierceness, and ever-expanding nature of what it means to be a woman and celebrates us!”
At 21, singer-songwriter mxmtoon stands tall as one of the brightest and most engaging voices of her generation. Known for her dreamy folk-pop and introspective lyricism, the Oakland-raised, Brooklyn-based artist is also a gamer, podcaster, and activist, who has built a deep, symbiotic connection with millions of fans through a steady stream of content on TikTok, Twitch, Instagram, YouTube, and Discord. Last week mxmtoon – a.k.a. Maia – released her True Colors EP in tandem with the highly anticipated Life Is Strange: True Colors game, and today she shares the music video for the EP’s latest single “in the darkness.”
Maia says, “Making this music video was so much fun, and working with Mika and his team was also a pleasure. The “in the darkness” video is very much meant to highlight the emotional energy of the game it was written for, Life is Strange: True Colors. Incorporating game footage with the background panels in the video really lent itself to trying to create an immersive experience of both live performance and electronic graphics. In the times we’re in right now, sometimes our most wondrous experiences happen through a screen, and the lines between real life experience and online ones are becoming increasingly blurred. My hope with this music video is to show how fantastical video games, computer generated graphics, and more can be their own visually stimulating adventure that’s fun for viewers and people to spectate. Also it meant I got to play around with a lot of fun light panels!”
There have been many tours selling out this year. King Princess, Billie Eilish to name a couple. The latest is from bedroom pop artist mxmtoon. mxmtoon is Maia a 19 year-old Chinese-American artist who bleeds soft emotion into every song. The singles from her new album, the masquerade, are numerous including “prom dress”, “high and dry”, “seasonal depression” “blame game” and “dream of you.”
The masquerade album is due out September 17. It follows the 2018 release of her EP The Plum Blossom. The album has 10 tracks as 20 songs. Each song has an original version and an acoustic version. mxmtoon has been doing the same thing with her videos of the singles. There are not enough words to describe the honest sincere landscape that mxmtoom paints in every song.
She emotes a vulnerably and honesty that stands out from the plastic landscape of pop music. For more info and to get a ticket for the tour visit https://www.mxmtoon.com/
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making the masquerade?
M: I think the biggest challenge by far was understanding what sort of narrative I wanted to form when writing the album. I think at the start I was really concerned about my ability to tell a story, and with an album it felt like there was this really big pressure to make some sort of project that has a huge message to it. One that when people listen, they feel uplifted, inspired, and maybe even as if they got answers to questions they’ve been pondering for ages. I’m always hyper-aware of what sort of impact my songs may have on someone with message, and even more so with an actual album. Eventually I realized that as long as I spoke honestly about my experiences, the narrative would form on its own. The story became about my journey understanding who I am, and the things that have happened to me to form the individual I am today.
FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Robin Skinner. How did you meet? What made you decide to have him produce the album?
M: We met when our managers put us in touch! I had been listening to his music on my own for a while already, so when the opportunity to work with him came up I was extremely excited. His own music has such a distinct quality and character and the possibility of even getting to see how he works in a studio environment was amazing. Robin has an incredible ear for music, and I think our brains work very similar in the way we hear melodies and sound.
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest difference for you making an as opposed to the Plum Blossom Ep?
M: The Plum Blossom EP really felt like the perfect bookend to the chapter of music I had been making in the confines of my bedroom for a year. A truly stripped down and exposed way of making music, one that I’m of course still a fan of, but working on the masquerade was a really creatively fulfilling process. I can only know so much on my own, and working with a producer who has a plethora of tools available that I haven’t learned to use, helped me understand what else I was capable of as an artist.
FEMMUSIC: The Masquerade has songs both in a regular version and an acoustic version. What made you decide to do it that way? What do you hope people will hear differently?
M: I wanted to make sure I included an acoustic version almost as a way to pay homage to the type of music I made originally. Also each song on the masquerade started in the acoustic form! That’s the way I know how to write and make music, and I know a lot of the people that listen to my music also appreciate being able to have the option to listen to my music the way they may have originally found it.
FEMMUSIC: Your tour is selling out. What excites you most about touring these songs? What scares you?
M: Oh my goodness, I’m always terrified! I’m extremely excited to be able to be back playing live shows though. I don’t think I’m truly able to understand the world I am in until I’m on a stage performing. There’s something so magical about the fact that for one night a room of people can share an experience together and connect over art. I’m ecstatic to be able to be back in that. I’m really nervous about playing in a band for the first time, but also that’s one of the things I’m most pumped for!
FEMMUSIC: Your songs have an honest vulnerability to them. Can you describe your songwriting technique?
M: Usually, I keep a log of different emotions or experiences that I go through. Almost like a cheat sheet for song topics, and maybe when there’s a particular day that I’m going through the same thing again, I’ll go back and check the list to write about whatever topic it is that day. Melody tends to surface in my head on its own, and from there it’s my job to fill in the gaps with words that I think accurately represent the song’s focus.
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?
M: I think a song that really introduced me to the way I understand music as a force is “Blood” by The Middle East. That song makes me cry every time I listen to it without fail. The imagery and minimalism of production resonated with me from the first listen, and unconsciously I think that type of song was what I ended up creating on my own. I’ve never been one to stick to one genre of music and listen to it for ages, but the only constant in my musical world has been a single playlist with songs very similar to “Blood.” Songs with minimal production, heavily acoustic, and really rooted in the singer-songwriter world.
FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?
M: Often times I think my position as a young woman of color is pretty tough. I usually have to work twice as hard to walk into a room and confidently feel as if I can navigate the space. Nobody in my family has any sort of familiarity with the music industry. I come from a family of educators, and choosing to enter into a field with no foundational knowledge has forced me to become a strong advocate for myself and understand what my goals are. All of that requires that I make it known that I do indeed know who I am, what I want, and how to do it, but of course that’s a lot of pressure for a young woman. Trusting my voice and intuition has been a key factor in overcoming the obstacles that I face, and I think that applicable to many fields!
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?
M: I would love to collaborate with Clairo! I admire her a lot as an artist and we both came from similar spaces on the internet. Seeing her progression as an artist has been incredible to watch, and lately I’ve been loving her debut album. I have yet to do a whole lot of touring but to be honest with you I’m usually excited about whatever sort of opportunities I’m given. I do have this weird dream of being able to open for Smash Mouth at one concert, I just think that’d be a great story. How legendary would that be?
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
M: To be honest, since I’m still really fresh in the music industry, I’ve yet to fully experience it all. My own experience thus far has been incredibly untraditional, and I don’t think I’d like to alter per se, but I really do like how the industry has been completely turned on its head. There are so many ways artists are able to pursue music nowadays, and I love that. It’s incredible to see how varied the pathways have become for art and music, and I’d love to keep seeing how people can continue to defy the odds on their own.”