mxmtoon

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mxmtoon
mxmtoon performing in September 2019
mxmtoon performing in September 2019
Background information
Born (2000-07-09) July 9, 2000 (age 21)
Oakland, California, U.S.
Genres
Instruments
violin, cello, trumpet, guitar
Years active2013–present
Labels
Websitemxmtoon.com
YouTube information
Also known asMaia
Channel
Genre
Subscribers902,000[4]
Total views117 million[4]
YouTube Silver Play Button 2.svg 100,000 subscribers 2018

Updated: March 5, 2022

Maia[a] (born July 9, 2000), known professionally as mxmtoon (pronounced "M X M toon"),[b] is an American singer-songwriter and YouTuber. She is known for singing and playing the ukulele, and is from Oakland, California. Her 2018 self-released EP, Plum Blossom, recorded on her laptop in her parents' guest bedroom, has been streamed over 100 million times. She released her debut album, The Masquerade, in September 2019, followed by the twin EPs Dawn and Dusk in 2020. Her second studio album, Rising, was released on May 20, 2022.

Early life[edit]

Maia was born on July 9, 2000,[7] in Oakland, California, and grew up near Lake Merritt.[8][9] Her mother is Chinese-American, and her father is German and Scottish.[8] While at school, she enjoyed taking art and architecture classes.[8] She became interested in music from a young age. Her brother took violin lessons, and in first grade, Maia joined him. A few years later, she began playing classical cello and trumpet.[10]

In fifth grade, she auditioned for her school rock band.[2] Expecting to audition for cello, she was asked to sing Oasis's "Wonderwall", and ended up joining as a vocalist,[11] where she recalls singing "The Middle" by Jimmy Eat World.[5] In sixth grade, she began playing guitar, learning in part from her father.[10] Maia first coined the name "Mxmtoon" on her Instagram account where she drew cartoon sketches for her 500 followers, most of whom were strangers.[5] She started her YouTube channel in September 2013 and began playing the ukulele in middle school.[12] She wrote her first song at age 13.[13]

Career[edit]

2017–2018: Plum Blossom[edit]

mxmtoon began self-releasing songs on YouTube as "Mxmtoon" in 2017, The name "Mxmtoon" comes from her initials.[14] She recorded with GarageBand[15] in her parents' guest bedroom,[16][17] and created percussion tracks with found objects such as hair straighteners.[18] After initially attempting to write comedy songs, she began writing in a confessional, emotionally embodied style.[18]

Her 2017 collaboration with lo-fi producer Peachy, "Falling for U", reached nearly 40 million streams on Spotify by June 2019.[12] Maia began secretly releasing music to the public, but was later compelled to tell her friends and family after experiencing online growth.[19] In 2018, Maia released her debut EP, Plum Blossom; the EP gained more than 100 million streams on Spotify by August 2019.[16][20]

After high school, Maia took a "gap year" by postponing college to focus on her music.[21] She was planning to study architecture after graduating from high school, until her music went viral in April 2018.[22] In November 2018, she announced her "Plum Blossom Tour", initially scheduled for five US shows[12] with fellow Californian singer-songwriter Khai Dreams in March 2019,[23] sold out[24] and was extended to include additional concerts in North America and Europe,[16][25][26] including opening appearances for bedroom pop YouTuber Cavetown in the United Kingdom.[27][28] Maia made her first appearance on a billboard in Times Square when Spotify advertised her single "Dream of You" for their New Music Friday playlist.[29]

2019–2021: The Masquerade, Dawn, and Dusk[edit]

Prior to the release of The Masquerade, Spotify announced the release of 21 Days, a music podcast that followed Maia while she works on the album in New York City.[30][31] Liz Gateley of Spotify praised Maia's online following as well as her social presence, stating that "She obviously has lots of followers already, but that's not enough. The person had to be the right human too, and we felt she had both."[30] The podcast is an eight-episode audio diary that includes interviews with family, friends, and collaborators, including the album's producer Cavetown.[30][31]

Maia's debut studio album, The Masquerade, was released on September 17, 2019.[19] The album peaked at 17 on the US Heatseekers Chart[citation needed] and at 45 on the US Indie Albums Chart.[32][33] "Prom Dress", the lead single, has amassed over a hundred million streams on Spotify and has been used in 100,000 videos on TikTok.[22] Maia's other songs have also garnered millions of online streams.[3]

Joshua Bote of Paste described the ten-track album as "comforting twee-pop that wrings out genuine pathos from mxmtoon's internet celebrity".[34] Matt Yuyitung of Exclaim! wrote "[Maia] brings her wry sense of humor and diary-entry lyricism to her debut record, recalling the lo-fi relatability of Frankie Cosmos."[35]

Maia embarked on "The Masquerade Tour" of North America and United Kingdom in September 2019.[36] She released her first graphic novel, The Adventures of Mxmtoon: The Masquerade, in October 2019. Kirsten Spruch from Billboard wrote, "The novel seamlessly pairs with the album, encapsulating her introverted, teenage tendencies and free-flowing creativity."[37] Gabe Bergado from Teen Vogue described the book as "a captivating, charming visual journey that complements the dreamy album."[38] Maia released an accompanying animated short film for the graphic novel in November 2019.[38]

On November 19, 2019, Kobalt Music Group announced that they would be signing Mxmtoon to their label under a global publishing deal.[39] This deal will include administration and creative support for current music catalogue and future works.[40] Emily Bines, a senior creative director at Kobalt, said, "Mxmtoon is exactly the type of forward-thinking creative that we dream about working with at Kobalt. Her vision, matched with her team's passion to bring it to fruition is unwavering. We will be hearing from Maia for a long time to come."[41]

Maia released The Masquerade (The Edits) on November 22, 2019. The EP features remixes from songs on The Masquerade from artists like Chloe Lilac, Alexander 23 and Chloe Moriondo.[42] In November 2019, Dork put Maia on their Hype List of 2020,[43] alongside artists including Girl in Red, Beabadoobee and Maisie Peters.[44]

In December 2019, Maia re-recorded the song "Prom Dress" in Simlish, the fictional language used in The Sims games, to help promotion. The Simlish version was added to The Sims 4 on December 12, 2019.[45][46] A week later Maia released the music video for "Unspoken Words", which revolves around her Chinese-American upbringing as well as her relationship with her Chinese grandmother.[47][48]

Maia released her first single of 2020, "Fever Dream", in January 2020.[49] "Fever Dream" was followed by Maia's EP Dawn in April. In an interview with the Forty-Five, Maia said of the EP, "it’s a big progression, thematically. I wanted to make an EP that gracefully said thank you and goodbye to the past chapters of mxmtoon, and my debut album and first EP."[50]

Accompanying album Dusk was released in October 2020, and was soon amalgamated with Dawn to form Dawn & Dusk.[51]

In March 2021, Maia was announced as the singing voice for Alex Chen, the protagonist of the upcoming Square Enix game Life Is Strange: True Colors.[52]

2022–present: Rising[edit]

After lots of speculation from her fans, Maia finally announced her North American tour, titled "rising (the tour)", on February 7th 2022. She also announced that fellow indie musician Chloe Moriondo would be joining her for her North American tour.[53]

In February 2022, Maia released "Mona Lisa", which served as her first single for her later announced album Rising, to be released in full on May 20th 2022. In March, she released the single Sad Disco which was also a part of her announced album "rising". The following month, she released the single Victim Of Nostalgia, also a part of her album. 1 week before the album's release on May 20th, Coming Of Age was released without notice.[54]

On March 28th 2022, Maia announced additional tour dates across The UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Ricky Montgomery is set to join her on the European and UK dates.[55]

Public image[edit]

I can be as ridiculous as I want but I can also be an emo teenager and people like both sides.

— mxmtoon, [18]

Maia has been credited with having an "endearingly intimate presence".[56] The singer-songwriter's[57] music has been described as "warm folk-pop tunes with acoustic ornamentations",[24] "one part acoustic-pop a-la Kina Grannis, mixed with sharp lyricism and avant-garde, off-kilter melodics akin to Fiona Apple or PJ Harvey",[58] that "explore[s] themes such as the trials of love, being a burden to those close to you, and connecting with your family's heritage."[17][16] Joshua Bote of Paste wrote that Maia "might be the songwriter a new generation needs", noting that she is "made for these times" and is "armed with a ukulele, a sardonic charm and social media savvy."[34]

Grant Rindner of Nylon wrote: "With a commitment to covering topics she rarely hears addressed by other artists, and a keen understanding of how to bond with her audience, she's emerged as a charming and relatable singer-songwriter with a massive platform."[59] After attending Maia's performance at the Gramercy Theatre, Briana Younger of The New Yorker wrote, "She sang of routine high-school problems, such as crippling self-doubt and unrequited love, with an emotional sophistication that reminded us that there are some things we never outgrow."[60] Joe Coscarelli of New York Times has compared Maia's bedroom pop style to that of Girl in Red, Clairo and Beabadoobee, as well as the folk-pop "simplicity" of Regina Spektor and The Moldy Peaches. Her manager, Max Gredinger, has presented her with Billie Eilish and Shawn Mendes as models for potential super-stardom.[5]

Coscarelli wrote: "Maia, who overflows with earnestness and giggles, has assembled an independent, D.I.Y. mini-empire almost by accident."[5] Bote described Maia as "really, really good at the internet".[34] Maia makes comedy videos on the video-sharing platform TikTok where she has amassed 2.2 million followers and 88 million likes as of September 2020.[61] To date, she has made appearances on Vine, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitch, Snapchat, Bandcamp, Pinterest and SoundCloud as well as TikTok.[5] Her music has been streamed over 300 million times across all online platforms collectively.[29]

Artistry[edit]

Influences[edit]

Maia has cited Arctic Monkeys, The Black Keys, Sufjan Stevens and Elliott Smith as her influences.[62] She also has stated to be inspired by many strong female artists, using Clairo as an example.[63]

Personal life[edit]

Maia identifies as "a young bisexual woman of color from a family of immigrants"[16] and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she writes, records, and produces her own music from the guest room of her parents' home.[17] She graduated from high school in 2019.[64] While Maia was growing up, her parents played R&B and hip-hop, including Salt-N-Pepa and A Tribe Called Quest, which she still listens to "for nostalgia".[8]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Title Details Peak chart positions
US
Heat.

[32]
US
Indie

[33]
The Masquerade
17
45
Rising
  • Released: May 20, 2022[65]
  • Label: Self-released, AWAL
  • Format: CD, LP, cassette, digital download, streaming

Compilation albums[edit]

Title Details
Dawn & Dusk
  • Released: September 23, 2020[66]
  • Label: Self-released, AWAL
  • Format: LP, digital download, streaming

Extended plays[edit]

Title Details
Plum Blossom[67]
  • Released: December 7, 2018
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: CD, cassette, digital download, streaming
Plum Blossom (The Edits)[68]
  • Released: April 26, 2019
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: Digital download, streaming
The Masquerade (The Edits)[42]
  • Released: November 22, 2019
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: Digital download, streaming
Dawn
  • Released: April 22, 2020
  • Label: Self-released, AWAL
  • Format: Digital download, streaming, cassette
Dawn (The Edits)
  • Released: July 24, 2020
  • Label: Self-released, AWAL
  • Format: Digital download, streaming
Dusk[69]
  • Released: October 1, 2020
  • Label: Self-released, AWAL
  • Format: Digital download, streaming, cassette
Dusk (The Edits)
  • Released: February 19, 2021
  • Label: Self-released, AWAL
  • Format: Digital download, streaming
True Colors (from Life Is Strange)
  • Released: September 10, 2021
  • Label: Self-released, AWAL
  • Format: Digital download, streaming, vinyl

Singles[edit]

As lead artist[edit]

List of singles as lead artist
Title Year Certifications Album
"1-800-DATEME" 2017 Non-album singles
"Life Online"
"Please Don't"
"Hong Kong"
"Stuck"
"Birdie"
"The Sideline"[70]
"The Idea of You" Plum Blossom
"Feelings are Fatal"
"Cliché"
"I Feel Like Chet" 2018
"Porcelain"
"Temporary Nothing"
"Don't Play Your Card" Non-album singles
"My Way" 2019
"Prom Dress" The Masquerade
"High & Dry"
"Seasonal Depression"
"Blame Game"
"Dream of You"
"Fever Dream" 2020 Dawn
"Quiet Motions"
"Lessons"
"Bon Iver" Dusk
"OK on Your Own"
(featuring Carly Rae Jepsen)
"Creep" 2021 True Colors (from Life Is Strange)
"Mona Lisa" 2022 Rising
"Sad Disco"
"Victim of Nostalgia"
"Coming of Age"

As featured artist[edit]

Title Year Certifications Album/EP
"Falling for U"
(Peachy! featuring mxmtoon)
2017 Non-album singles
"Maybe I Shouldn't"
(Mochi featuring mxmtoon)
"So Mean"
(Afternoon featuring mxmtoon, Samsa & Love-Sadkid)
"We Used to Talk Like Every Night"
(Isiah A. featuring mxmtoon)
2019
"Walk but in a Garden"
(LLusion featuring mxmtoon)
2020
"Pride"
(Noah Kahan featuring mxmtoon)
"Queen"
(G Flip featuring mxmtoon)
2021
"Line Without a Hook"(Remix)
(Ricky Montgomery featuring mxmtoon)
"Prairies"
(BoyWithUke with mxmtoon)
2022 Serotonin Dreams

Bibliography[edit]

Graphic novels[edit]

  • The Adventures Of mxmtoon: The Masquerade (with Ellie Black, Self-published, 2019) ISBN 0-578-55170-5
  • The Adventures Of mxmtoon: Dawn & Dusk

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Organization Award Work Result Ref.
2019 Dork Hype List 2020 Herself Included [43]
2020 NME The NME 100 Included [72]

Tours[edit]

Headlining

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ mxmtoon does not disclose her full name for privacy reasons.[5]
  2. ^ /ɛm.ɛksˈɛm.tn/ em-ex-EM-toon; The name "mxmtoon" is derived from Maia's initials, MXMT.[6]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]