We had the pleasure of interviewing mxmtoon over Zoom video.
In May, mxmtoon released her new album rising into the world, a collection of songs that argue growth is always evolving. The album has been streamed more than 20 million times since then and received critical acclaim including Song Exploder’s deep dive into “mona lisa’, and showed the singer-songwriter-producer-podcaster and social activist reaching new heights creatively. mxmtoon has announced a deluxe version of rising to be released September 16th.
In late 2019, Maia had just finished her first full tour as mxmtoon, and she felt inspired by the prospects of her career and life to come — two new EPs in the making, more shows, a planned move to join her brother in New York. But as the pandemic took hold, she returned to her parents’ home, working to return to her old writing habits in that guest bedroom-turned-makeshift studio. She felt stuck, however, so suspended in time and place she barely wrote anything at all during 2020. What’s more, she lost a cherished grandfather to leukemia, rushing to see him one last time in Florida.
On rising, Maia relates the story of visiting her dying grandfather during the song “florida”. She remains under cover of chiming acoustic guitars and cascading cymbal washes, a choice that highlights the writing’s poignant intimacy. Laced with arcing strings and textural harmonies, the exquisite “dizzy” captures the vertigo of someone who has spent four years in the public eye but, more broadly, anyone who thinks too much about the perception of online strangers. These more mellow moments betray the depth of their peppy counterparts and the breadth of experience that Maia, now 21, frontloads into mxmtoon.
For Maia, rising represents the culmination of an unintended trilogy that also includes dawn and dusk, the dual EPs she released in 2020. It’s true that rising continues their era of rapid musical growth for mxmtoon. But these dozen songs are the definitive steps forward for mxmtoon, because they are just as ingenious and honest and unguarded musically as Maia has always been lyrically.
Much of rising unfurls from that same premise — mxmtoon’s hallmarked vulnerability buttressed by a newfound musical effervescence and might. These are the songs, as Maia puts it, that she wished existed when she struggled as a teen. They are instruction manuals for surviving, written