Indie Pop Singer/Songwriter/Musician mxmtoon Proves She’s More Than A rising Talent in Latest Album. Talks rising Album, Being a Victim of Nostalgia, Fans & MORE.
Since releasing her first song, “1-800-DATEME” in 2017, the California native has gone on to release a slew of EPs and full length projects including 2018’s plum blossom, 2019’s the masquerade and the 2020 compilation album album dawn & dusk which combined two EPs by the same names. She returns two years later with the new album, rising that boasts a clear growth in the artist’s sonics and lyricisiam even as she found herself exploring new sounds. Additionally, she showcases no lack of talent when it comes to musicianship either with the ability to play the violin, cello, trumpet, guitar and famously the ukulele.
Maia‘s stage name, mxmtoon, was first introduced to the world through an Instagram account where she drew cartoons for her followers. This later saw her continuing the journey through the arts with a YouTube channel and learning the ukulele in middle school – the YouTube channel now on its way to hitting 1 million subscribers.
With a relatable tone she crafts lyrics about love, finding yourself and growing up that resonate with her generation and beyond and has offered the singer and songwriter a vibrant touring career that will soon take her down under in addition to across the pond after having just wrapped her North American portion.
But before that, she takes the time to chat with All Access to discuss the new album rising, tour, her favorite fan moment, how she balances being an artist and musician and so much more. Check out the full interview below and get to know your new favorite artist:
ALL ACCESS [Austin]: Let’s start from the beginning, what is it about music that made you want to pursue a career in it? Do you remember the moment when you knew music was your future?
MXMTOON: I actually don’t know if I had any concrete inspirations! I didn’t really have any musicians or artists that reflected my identity or story, so I think it was actually the lack of representation that really pushed me to keep pursuing music when the door seemed open enough for me to run through it. The moment I realized this pathway was possible for me was when I woke up and a big press outlet had mentioned me as an artist to watch within the bedroom pop scene on SoundCloud. I hadn’t told my parents that I was making and releasing music online, but now I realized I really needed to open up to them about everything.
AA: That’s crazy you never told you parents you were even making music. About when did the ukulele come into play?
M: I had learned to play the ukulele when I was 12 for my music class, and continued playing it through high school by watching YouTube tutorials, and ended up employing it when I was writing music for the first time. Everything seemed to kind of just fall into place.
AA: Since your first release as an artist in 2017, you’ve released several EPs, the album the masquerade and now your latest album rising. With your first EP having been recorded in your parents’ guest bedroom, how has your creative process evolved in the past few years?
M: I’ve become a lot more familiar with collaboration as a means of creation. I started this whole thing really only being comfortable writing by myself, and collaboration was something I felt super uncomfortable with in the beginning because I felt like I didn’t belong in writing rooms. I felt I wasn’t good enough to be working with people I deemed as much more experienced and far better at everything than me. Over the years I’ve grown in my confidence and know that every person brings their own skill set when it comes to making art. There’s not a singular definition of what it means to be “good.” As that confidence has grown, I’ve learned that I love co-writing. It’s so rewarding to be able to learn from my musical peers and to feel the excitement of making a song you love with other people.
AA: You’re so talented and definitely good enough to be in any writing room. And speaking of talent, congrats on the release of rising! How does this feel to have this one out in the world? Which song were you most excited to release? Most nervous?
M: Thank you! It feels so nice to have it out in the world finally. I was curious how people would respond to a project that feels so different than a lot of my past work, but the reception has been incredible. Out of the tracks that we didn’t release as singles, I think “dizzy” was the song I was most excited to see people react to. The track has some of my favorite lyrics, and it has ended up becoming a fan favorite. The one I was most nervous about was “scales.” I think it’s the most surprising one on the album in terms of style. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever released, but I love it.
AA: Staying on the topic of rising, on the album you have a song called “victim of nostalgia” – which I know a lot of people who are. What’s a memory from your childhood that you wish you could relive whenever you wanted?
M: I have a very visceral memory of swimming in Florida with my family on a really hot summer day. The water was insanely still that day and we went to Publix to get a box of fried chicken to bring to the beach. My family and I swam out to a sand bank we saw nearby and hung out for a bit when we saw something in the water nearby. We freaked out for a second thinking it could be a dangerous animal, but as the blobs swam closer we realized they were manatees! I’ve never been that close to a wild animal that was so massive, so gentle, so calm. Manatees are essentially water puppies, the ones my family encountered swam around us for a bit and seemed like they just wanted to hangout. It was magical. I wish I could relive that again.
AA: After years of not being able to hit the road and perform in front of people how has the tour felt so far? What’s the thing you missed the most about the tour that you forgot about?
M: It was terrifying for the first few shows, but as it went on I got back into the rhythm! The part I missed was being able to hangout with my band and crew. Being on the road for weeks makes you really close with the people you work with, and I am lucky to work with some of the loveliest people I know. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the task of being away from home for months and weeks, but being with good people makes it so much easier.
AA: You seem to always be surrounded by good people as you have some very sweet fans (even if they try to throw you gifts or their phones at you on stage). What’s the wildest/funniest/sweetest fan interaction or gift you’ve encountered?
M: They are truly the sweetest. I think my most recent sweet interaction was at the first LA show on the tour I’m on right now. Two sweet individuals who run an updating page with two of their friends on Twitter planned on coming to the show and also organized a moment for my song “almost home” when I was singing live. One of them couldn’t make it, but the other was right up on the barricade wearing the cutest strawberry hat with them on FaceTime. The two of them handed out paper hearts that people held up with flashlights while I was singing and I nearly collapsed into a ball of tears. I feel so thankful to have such kind individuals within my audience who take the time to do such things.
AA: It’s to be magical to see that sort of love and appreciation in person. But as an artist who gained a lot of traction on social media – how do you view the necessary evil that artists now have to also be content creators in addition to artists? As an artist are you excited about the future of social media/technology/etc?
M: It’s really difficult because the two require such different mindsets. Even as someone who naturally uses social media quite often, I get sick of it. It’s exhausting to emotionally drain yourself while making music but then also drain yourself because you’re making content all the time. I try to view it from the perspective that I think it really helps me form a relationship with my audience and get to know them as people as well, but it’s not healthy to be online all the time with no break in between. I think social media has made it possible for people to pursue creative pathways without the need to search for label support or to have pre-established connections, so it’s exciting in that sense! However, I hope people prioritize their mental health in the process.
AA: If you could only listen to (5) artists for the rest of your life, who would they be?
M: Lizzo, Cage The Elephant, Stevie Wonder, Rex Orange County, and Post Malone. Weirdest combo ever.
AA: What does the rest of 2022 look like for mxmtoon?
M: Well, I have my first tour in Australia and New Zealand later this year, as well as my first Europe and UK headliner tour! So I’m busy with live shows and rehearsing tons for everything to come, but I hope there’s some moments in between everything where I can also do the things I love like streaming video games and making silly YouTube videos. I also hope I get some down time to catch up on some books I’ve been wanting to read!
We hope you get some of the downtime to read some of those books as well! A massive thank you to you, mxmtoon for hanging for this latest All Access interview amid tour rehearsals and everything else you’ve got going on. Be sure to keep updated with all things mxmtoon by following along with the links below:
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