Maia is an Oakland-born and-New York-based singer/songwriter, YouTuber, gamer, multi-instrumentalist, producer and creative mastermind behind the acclaimed solo recording project mxmtoon. The 20-something artist, who’s Chinese-American on her mother’s side and German and Scottish on her father’s side — but culturally, she grew up Chinese-American. The Oakland-born, New York-based artist became interested in music at a very young age: her brother took violin lessons and while in first grade, Maia joined him. A few years later, she began playing classical cello and trumpet.
When Maia was in fifth grade, she auditioned for her school rock band. Expecting to audition to cello, she was asked to sing Oasis‘ “Wonderwall” and wound up joining as a vocalist, eventually singing Jimmy Eat World‘s “The Middle.” The following year, her father taught to play guitar. The Oakland-born, New York-based first used the name mxmtoon on her Instagram account, where she drew cartoon sketches for her followers.
While in junior high school things got interesting: she started her YouTube channel and began playing the ukulele. She wrote her first song when she was 13, eventually recording her original material in her parents’ guest bedroom, creating percussion tracks with hair straighteners and GarageBand. In 2017, she began releasing her songs on YouTube as mxmtoon. After somewhat unsuccessfully attempting to write comedy songs, she started to write sincere martial that embodied her emotions and feelings.
Although she initially released material secretly to the public, Maia was compelled to tell her friends and family after her work started to go viral. Singles like “feelings are fatal,” “Falling For U,” a collaboration with Japanese producer Peachy have amassed over 55 million and 40 million Spotify streams respectively since their release. Maia released her mxmtoon debut 2018’Ss Plum Blossom EP to critical applause from the likes of Earmilk, i-D and Hypebeast — with the EP eventually amassing over 100 million Spotify streams by the following year.
After graduating from high school, the acclaimed Oakland-born, New York-based artist took a gap year to focus on music and on touring: Her first tour, which was initially scheduled for five US shows with fellow Californian Khai Dream wound up being extended to a full-fledged tours of North America and Europe, including opening for fellowYouTuber Cavetown in the UK. Last year continued an enviable run of success for the 20 something artist: she released her full-length debut the masquerade and its follow-up dawn and dusk EP to critical applause while singles like “prom dress,” “bon river” and “fever dream” were certified Gold by the RIAA.
So far, the 20-something artist has amassed over 500 million steams and more than 4 million followers including 1.4 million on TikTok, 846,000 on YouTube, 1.2 million on Spotify and 207,00 on Twitch, where she battled Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez in a live-streamed game of Among Us, which wound up being the first largest Twitch stream in its history. Interestingly, the past year has also seen Maia relocate to New York — and she made her NPR Tiny Desk debut, filming her set on the world’s largest desk.
Adding to a rather busy period, the 20-something artist and avid gamer announced her involvement in the next installment of the highly-anticipated Deck Nine Games created, Square Enix published gaming series, Life Is Strange, titled Life Is Strange: True Colors. Maia will provide the singing voice for the game’s central character Alex Chen and provides musical backdrop for the game. Additionally, she contributes to the Life Is Strange soundtrack with a hauntingly cover of Radiohead‘s beloved smash hit “Creep,” that replaces then guitars of the original with atmospheric electronics while retaining the song’s familiar melody. The end result is a cover that finds the 20-something artist grabbing hold of and pulling out the song’s desperate isolation, longing and self-deprecation in an eerie direction.
“Really excited to share my cover of ‘Creep’ by Radiohead!” mxmtoon says in press notes. “It’s nerve-wracking to make your own version of such an iconic and established song, but ‘Creep’ is a classic and i had so much fun being able to put my own spin on it. Hopefully other people can be inspired to make versions of their own favorite songs and put them out in the world to share as well.”