Updated: Oct 9, 2020
20-year-old Maia – creating music under mxmtoon – shares her new EP dusk as an accompanying piece to her April release of EP dawn. Dusk presents the six-month evolution of mxmtoon as a songwriter and musician, focusing on isolation, and juxtaposing it with self-empowerment. Her debut album which was recorded on a laptop in her parents' guest bedroom, reached over 100 million streams showing the power of 'bedroom pop' in this post-genre world.
mxmtoon had previously gained much traction on her track ‘Prom Dress’ that set her as a staple of bedroom pop with her sophisticated and polished take on the traditionally (and intentionally) lofi genre. Her self-exploration throughout the album is accompanied by the other female artists which she has collaborated with in her creation, including Carly Rae Jepsen for the anthemic ‘ok on your own’ whilst she states Arctic Monkeys, The Black Keys, Sufjan Stevens as influences.
Exploring who she is through her sounds, mxmtoon fixes the spotlight on the emotional duality in which the human experience resides. She presents solitude as a moment of reflection rather than a moment of aloneness. It’s a gentle reminder that we are as strong alone as we are together (even if we all just want to sit on TikTok to feel some sort of human connection for an hour or two).
mxmtoon , much like the rest of us, has been trying her best to “keep some sort of normalcy amongst the chaos,” as she connects with her audience through social media. “These platforms are a way to connect and have conversations with people in a world where I don’t get to see them face-to-face for a while.” We’ve all seemed to learn that it isn’t all bad to be stuck behind a screen, as Maia explains that “it’s made me closer with my audience as a result.”
mxmtoon introduces us to her new sound with track ‘bon iver’- an ode to the titular folk band its a song that reminisces on "a tired sun". Her EP follows much of this slow burning gaze, mxmtoon explaining herself that the work is “it’s introverted and reflective. It’s about sitting with the darkness for a little longer, finding the unknown and not quite wanting to move away from it yet. It’s the way I wish I could make my previous music sound - sad, but beautiful.”
‘playing Bon Iver on late night drives / My window, moon, and fireflies / Holding onto moments that we found / Even when the sun goes down’, she sings
Dusk is a sweet reminder of the silver lining that comes with experience – an overall statement which tells audiences that there is no happiness without sadness. The depth of this message is explored in ‘ok on your own’ – a relatable and melancholy track which features wholesome pop-darling Carly Rae Jepsen.
Philosopher Irvin Yalom wrote the four givens of the human condition – one being our ultimate aloneness. ‘on your own’ is the bittersweet existential view of oneself which resonates in her words, “You can find how to be OK on your own / I just can't be the one that makes you feel at home,” whilst also understanding the want to have another person by your side.
‘myrtle ave.’. An unexpected love song within the ‘dusk’ EP that came along to tug at the heartstrings of mxmtoon's listeners. The chorus echoes this gentle love; ‘Though everything's been broken / You're complete / When everyone's gone sour / You're so sweet.’ The elegant comparison between the person she loves, and the rest of existence proves a poignant and pensive facet to the EP – its ambigous whether she defines the love being platonic or romantic.
mxmtoon explains the track ‘wallflower’ within the bittersweet reminiscing of her past before catching the limelight, “at the beginning of my journey with music, I actually approached releasing my songs on the internet because I thought no one would listen to me. There was comfort in the anonymity, in thinking that I could shout into a void of people with no one to shout back at me. I got rather lucky though, and people found the art I was making. I wouldn’t change a thing in how my life has happened, but there are days where I crave backing into a wall and fading away as I watch the world go by. I think introverts can relate to this feeling of wanting to disappear and finding comfort in the shadows of the world. ‘Wallflower’ is for those who get overwhelmed on occasion by the realities of our world, and sometimes need to take a step back and breathe before they brave the storm again.” An absolute heart tug on all of us introverts trying to show something we love when we fear the reaction.
Since ‘dawn’ drew from the hope of a gentle sunrise, ‘dusk’ is the loneliness which grows within the falling sun. ‘asking for a friend’ solidifies this stoic meaning, with a melancholy taste of searching for someone who is willing to stay in a time when you need them. The gentle plea is assisted with the piano and synth backing track that amplifies the emotion behind mxmtoon's delicate songwriting.
When I see the words ‘show and tell’, I immediately think about bringing in my favorite toys to class even if the other kids only cared about their own. For mxmtoon ‘show and tell’ craving for a return to even these mundane emotions, ‘Craving some normalcy’ mxmtoon explains, “if 2020 has proved anything, it’s that the world can keep throwing things at you even when it’s already crazy and horrible.”
Ending the EP with ‘first’ wraps up the EP in a tight little bow, expressing that the movement of time is cyclical and cannot be controlled. This includes the relationships which we experience, and the pain which comes from their endings. But pain is meant to teach us, and we learn from it.
With the New York Times calling her "...a Bedroom Pop Empire in the Making” Dusk is the gentle reminder that the 20-year-old artist only has only higher to climb, and we couldn’t be more excited to see which direction mxmtoon takes.
Earlier this month mxmtoon also launched her new podcast 365 days with mxmtoon where each day for an entire year she will take you through the most interesting, weird, and funny events of that day in history. Released in partnership with Talkhouse and you can subscribe to daily episodes here