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 20)
Oakland, California, U.S.
Genres
Instruments
Years active2017–present
Labels
Associated acts
Websitemxmtoon.com
YouTube information
Also known asMaia
Channel
Genre
Subscribers788 thousand
Total views93.6 million
YouTube Silver Play Button 2.svg 100,000 subscribers 2018

Updated: October 21, 2020

mxmtoon[a] (born July 9, 2000), also known as Maia, is an American singer-songwriter and YouTuber from Oakland, California, known for singing and playing the ukulele. 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.

Early life[edit]

Maia was born on July 9, 2000,[7] in Oakland, California, and grew up near Lake Merritt.[8][9] She is Chinese-American on her mother's side and German and Scottish on her father's side.[8] She describes herself as "Hapa", as she grew up culturally Chinese. Throughout her school career 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.[6] 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.[6] She started her YouTube channel and began playing the ukulele in middle school.[12] She wrote her first song at age 13.[13]

Career[edit]

2017–2018: "Falling for U", plum blossom[edit]

Recording with GarageBand[14] in her parents' guest bedroom,[5][15] creating percussion tracks with hair straighteners,[16] Maia began self-releasing songs on YouTube as "Mxmtoon" in 2017.[17] After initially attempting to write comedy songs, she began writing songs that embodied her emotions such as "feelings are fatal",[16] which only required a USB microphone and GarageBand.[8] The song currently has over 55 million streams on Spotify. Her 2017 collaboration with Japanese 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.[18] In 2018, Maia released her debut EP, Plum Blossom, which was reviewed by Earmilk,[19] i-D[14] and Hypebeast,[1][20] and gained more than 100 million streams on Spotify by August 2019.[5][21] The EP's single "I Feel Like Chet" is a tribute to one of her favorite jazz musicians, Chet Baker.[22]

After high school, Maia took a "gap year" by postponing college to focus on her music.[23] She was planning to study architecture after graduating from high school, until her music went viral in April 2018.[24] In November 2018, she announced her "Plum Blossom Tour".[25] Her first tour, initially scheduled for five US shows[12] with fellow Californian singer-songwriter Khai Dreams in March 2019,[19] sold out[20] and was extended to include additional concerts in North America and Europe,[5][26][27] including opening appearances for bedroom pop YouTuber Cavetown in the United Kingdom.[28][29][30] 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.[31][32]

2019–present: The Masquerade, Kobalt[edit]

Prior to the release of The Masquerade, Spotify announced the release of 21 Days, a music podcast that follows Maia while she works on the album in New York City.[33][34] 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."[33] The podcast is an eight-episode audio diary that includes interviews with family, friends and collaborators, including the album's producer Cavetown.[33][34]

Maia's debut studio album, The Masquerade, was released on September 17, 2019.[18] The album peaked at 17 on the US Heatseekers Chart[citation needed] and at 45 on the US Indie Albums Chart.[35][36] It features "Prom Dress", a "light and peachy tune"[27] described as "relatable, infectious hook-led pop that speaks to millennials".[3] The single is inspired by experiences from her own big night and deals with social anxiety and the problems that come with being a teen in modern society.[37] The song has been streamed over 90 million times on Spotify,[38] and has been used in 100,000 videos on TikTok.[24] Maia's back catalogue of songs has also received tens of 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".[39] Matt Yuyitung of Exclaim! wrote "[Maia] brings her wry sense of humour and diary-entry lyricism to her debut record, recalling the lo-fi relatability of Frankie Cosmos."[40]

Maia embarked on her sold out "The Masquerade Tour" of North America and United Kingdom in September 2019.[41] 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."[42] 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]

In November 2019, Maia announced via Twitter that she would be joining American singer-songwriter Lauv for his 2020 summer tour of Asia supporting his album How I'm Feeling.[43]

On November 19, 2019, Kobalt Music Group announced that they would be signing Mxmtoon to their label under a global publishing deal.[44] This deal will include administration and creative support for current music catalogue and future works.[45] 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."[46]

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.[47] In November 2019, Dork put Maia on their Hype List of 2020,[48] alongside artists including Girl in Red, Beabadoobee and Maisie Peters.[49]

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,[50][51] to a positive reaction from Maia on Twitter.[52] 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.[53][54]

Maia released her first single of 2020, "Fever Dream", in January 2020.[55] "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."[56]

Accompanying album Dusk was released in October 2020, and was soon amalgamated with Dawn to form Dawn & Dusk.[57]

Reception[edit]

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

— mxmtoon, [16]

Maia has been credited with having an "endearingly intimate presence".[58] The singer-songwriter's[59] music has been described as "warm folk-pop tunes with acoustic ornamentations",[20] "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",[60] 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."[15][5] 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."[39]

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."[61] 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."[62] 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.[6]

Coscarelli wrote: "Maia, who overflows with earnestness and giggles, has assembled an independent, D.I.Y. mini-empire almost by accident."[6] Bote described Maia as "really, really good at the internet".[39] 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.[63] To date, she has made appearances on Vine, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitch, Snapchat, Bandcamp, Pinterest and SoundCloud as well as TikTok.[6] Her music has been streamed over 300 million times across all online platforms collectively.[31]

Artistry[edit]

Influences[edit]

Maia has cited Arctic Monkeys, The Black Keys, Sufjan Stevens and Elliott Smith as her influences.[64]

Personal life[edit]

Maia identifies as "a young bisexual woman of color from a family of immigrants"[5] and currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she writes, records and produces her own music from the guest room of her parents' home.[15] She graduated from high school in June 2018.[65] 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.

[35]
US
Indie

[36]
The Masquerade
17
45

Compilation albums[edit]

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

Extended plays[edit]

Title Details
Plum Blossom[67]
  • Released: December 7, 2018
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: CD, digital download, streaming, vinyl
Plum Blossom (The Edits)[68]
  • Released: April 26, 2019
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: Digital download, streaming
The Masquerade (The Edits)[47]
  • Released: November 22, 2019
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: Digital download, streaming
Dawn
  • Released: April 22, 2020
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: Digital download, streaming, cassette
Dawn (The Edits)
  • Released: July 24, 2020
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: Digital download, streaming
Dusk[69]
  • Released: October 1, 2020
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: Digital download, streaming, cassette

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)

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

Bibliography[edit]

Graphic novels[edit]

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

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Organization Award Work Result Ref.
2019 Dork Hype List 2020 Herself Included [48]
2020 NME The NME 100 Included [72]

Tours[edit]

Headlining

  • Plum Blossom Tour (2019)[25]
  • The Masquerade Tour (2019)[41]

Supporting

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ /ɛm.ɛksˈɛm.tn/ em-ex-EM-toon; The name "mxmtoon" is derived from Maia's initials, MXMT.[4] She uses the pseudonym Maia[5] and does not disclose her full name for privacy reasons.[6]

References[edit]

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  32. ^ mxmtoon [confirmed account] [@mxmtoon] (August 30, 2019). "AAAAAAHHH THATS MY FACE!!! IN TIMES SQUARE!!!! @Spotify" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
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  36. ^ a b "Independent Albums - Week of Sept. 28, 2019". Billboard.
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External links[edit]