By Sam Manzella
Mxmtoon’s Maia is without doubt one of the busiest younger girls within the indie-pop world, however you wouldn’t understand it from a cursory look at her house. Zooming in for a video name with MTV Information from her condominium in Brooklyn, the 20-year-old social media star-turned-pro singer-songwriter readily accepts compliments of her lush environment. Cascading houseplants and small trinkets adorn the white cabinets on the wall behind her. “I’m an introvert,” she says, “so I am advantageous with simply hanging out in my room, caring for my crops.”
The serene setup is a stark distinction to Maia’s jam-packed schedule: She dropped her second EP of 2020, Dusk, on October 1, lower than a 12 months after releasing 2019’s Masquerade, her first full-length studio album. She’s been churning out day by day 10- to 15-minute episodes of her history-themed podcast, 365 Days With Mxmtoon, since September 14. Twitter, Instagram, Twitch — you identify it, Maia makes use of it, and the digital native’s 4 million mixed followers are a captive viewers.
Maia (who goes by her first identify to have a semblance of privacy within the digital age) describes Nightfall because the “unhappy however stunning” companion piece to April’s Daybreak EP. She wrestles deftly with emotions of loneliness and melancholy, pairing ukulele and piano instrumentals — each nods to her web origins as a teen uploading ukulele tutorials to YouTube — with the diaristic lyrics her younger followers have come to know and love. “I simply needed to make one thing that felt like I may progress as an artist however not go away behind my roots,” she says.
Nightfall can be an ode to introversion within the time of COVID-19. It would sound counterintuitive whereas quarantining or social distancing, however for Maia, alone time is a pillar of her self-care routine. “I believe the extra snug we will be in our personal firm, the simpler it’s for us to recharge and face the world head-on once more,” she says. Most of Nightfall was written pre-pandemic, together with the cello-laden “Asking for a Friend,” Maia’s private fave off the brand new EP. Different tracks like “Present and Inform,” a wistful piano ballad, are unmistakably the product of quarantine (“Waking up every morning / And I am gazing outdoors of my windowsill / The world is so flawed, I hope that we’re sturdy / However I am nonetheless mourning”).
However being alone doesn’t essentially imply being lonely. Nightfall additionally options “OK on Your Own,” a collaboration with none apart from Carly Rae Jepsen. “[Carly and I] Facetimed, and she or he was like, ‘What would you like me to do on the tune?’” Maia remembers. “I used to be like, ‘You are actually Carly Rae Jepsen. You are able to do no matter you need and I might be completely happy.’ And he or she was like, ‘OK.’” She factors to a shelf that’s barely out of body: “I’ve a little bit be aware from her up right here, and it says, To Maia, completely happy launch day. XO. Carly. And I take a look at it and I am like, ‘What the fuck?’ I simply cannot imagine it.”
The mellow, ukulele-backed friendship anthem is a degree of pleasure for Maia, who counts CRJ amongst her private pop-music heroes. It additionally cemented her evolution from a YouTuber recording covers and lo-fi originals on GarageBand to a completely fledged recording artist. Maia launched and promoted 2018’s Plum Blossom, her first EP, fully independently. By the point her first full-length was within the works, she’d already toured internationally and had a string of viral moments on social media. The web fame scored her 21 Days With Mxmtoon, a podcast with Spotify documenting her artistic course of whereas writing and recording Masquerade. It additionally landed her a publishing take care of Kobalt Music Group, whom she signed to for administrative and inventive help final November.
Maia tweeted flippantly that “OK on Your Personal” was “for the women and the gays,” however there’s some reality to it. She factors to similarities between her and Jepsen’s followings: CRJ has “an insanely giant LGBTQ+ neighborhood of people that love her and take into consideration her as their queen.” Maia herself is brazenly bisexual, which resonates deeply along with her 411,000-plus followers on Twitter. She came out in 2017 in the course of the earlier days of her social-media fame. “I do not assume I’ve skilled many obstacles apart from the hate feedback the place folks might be like, ‘It is so bizarre, why is she speaking about her sexuality?’” she says. “I believe the bedroom-pop house, and indie pop too, has been very open and accepting of queer artists.”
If something, proudly owning her sexual orientation endeared Maia additional to her followers, a lot of whom are also members of the LGBTQ+ community. “I believe that was at all times one in all my targets after I began having a platform, to make an area that felt snug sufficient for folks to be open about who they’re, and for me to be open about who I’m too,” she provides. “So I am grateful I need not shrink back from this facet of who I’m.”
Maia is leveraging her platform much more forward of the presidential election in November. On Twitter, she reminds her 411,000 followers to register to vote; on Twitch, she hosts charitable live-streams for an viewers of 97,000. As a bisexual Chinese language-American lady born to an immigrant household, Maia feels the present administration’s assaults on civil rights personally. “You take a look at the information, and when your id and its validity is continually being questioned by a man who’s president and the whole lot, it is exhausting,” she says. “It is simply terrifying that folks’s fundamental human rights are being threatened and have been beneath hearth for thus lengthy.”
What’s subsequent for this self-professed perfectionist? 365 Days of Mxmtoon is ongoing via 2021. Maia additionally plans to proceed streaming herself writing songs and taking part in video video games on Twitch, an imperfect however mandatory substitute for connecting along with her followers in-person on tour. With Daybreak and Nightfall out now, although, Maia has one factor on her thoughts: “Hopefully I will get some sleep. That’s my subsequent aim.”