The Modern Melodies of Mxmtoon 

New CD “The Masquerade” Does Not Hide from Emotion


mxmtoon press release photo, via Go Moxie, fair use

Singer sensation mxmtoon released her CD “The Masquarade” in September, featuring her song “Seasonal Depression,” inspired by her Tweet “my seasonal depression b hittin different this year.”

The indie pop-folk sensation mxmtoon released her latest album “The Masquerade”  on September 17. Partnering up with fellow musician/producer Robin Skinner, who records songs under the name “Cavetown,” the songs on “The Masquerade” are filled with gentle guitar tones and heartfelt lyrics about love, lost relationships, and self-acceptance 

As an avid listener of both Cavetown and mxmtoon, I was very excited for the new album and was not disappointed. It lived up to her classic, unique style of vocals and music.

Mxmtoon, whose real name is Maia, has such a distinct vibe in all her songs, offering her genuine feelings through relatable lyrics and catchy melodies. Listening to her music is like having a conversation with a friend and talking about problems. Mxmtoon’s songs not only feel like talking to a friend, her songs also make perfect music for studying alongside, too.  

Not only is Maia’s lyric writing and singing fantastic, but she also uses her platform to talk about issues important to her.  “As a young, bisexual woman of color from a family of immigrants, a lot of current events directly affect who I am,” she said. Maia, who is Chinese-American, uses her voice to highlight issues facing many people today. “I firmly believe it’s my obligation and opportunity to speak on issues that affect us all.”  

Mxmtoon came to the music scene very recently, releasing her album “Plum Blossom” on December 7, 2018. She previously released the singles “Feelings are Fatal” and “Falling for U” in 2017, amongst other small projects recorded in her parent’s guest bedroom

As it is for many, music became an escape for Mxmtoon. “When I first started making music it felt like an escape from my day-to-day life, where I’d have to put on a mask to hide what I was really feeling,” says Maia. This is the inspiration behind her CD title. “Writing songs was a way to express all the things I couldn’t talk about in face-to-face interactions, and share them with a community of people who maybe also needed to put up a façade to get through the day.” 

“The Masquerade” is by far some of mxmtoon’s best work. Her music now is considerably more advanced than past songs, and the inspirations Cavetown had on this album are noticeable, such as his very distinct guitar quality. You can hear how much Maia has grown as a musician with her new songs.

Pullquote Photo

This song [“Seasonal Depression”] is a prime example of what makes her music so different from others: she recognizes experiences, feelings, and ideas that typically aren’t talked about or if they are they are stigmatized.

— Amaya Turner

The masquerade has a running theme of quiet, lost love and trying to move on. Unlike songs on the radio, mxmtoon’s songs are slow paced, often played on her ukulele. The lyrics aren’t bitter or spiteful, but accepting and sweet. For instance, in her song “Dream of You” she sings, Our time was short and sweet and simple/Uncomplicated by the past/Exchanging words in points of quiet/Unaware of who’d talk last/We gelled quickly and in seconds/I thought that I’d known you for years/You’d think we’d have lasted longer/But I wouldn’t shed a tear.” This verse offers a genuine commentary on how friendship can feel.  

Mxmtoon’s lyrics could be described as simple and straight to the point. Maia never uses metaphors, instead preferring a direct approach. This makes her lyrics more impactful–raw and full of life, unflinching from the truth.  One of my favorite songs from the album is “Prom Dress.” It shows what it’s like to be a teenager faced with disappointment. 

One of the tracks of “The Masquerade” that really stands out is “Seasonal Depression.” It could be because the beats are a little more aggressive and the lyrics a little faster. It was inspired by a Tweet Maia sent out–“my seasonal depression b hittin different this year.” This song is a prime example of what makes her music so different from others: she recognizes experiences, feelings, and ideas that typically aren’t talked about or if they are they are stigmatized.

Many of her songs revolve around missing someone (often interpreted as an ex-partner), cherishing the time spent together, but also being okay with moving on. Not in an angry way, as many popular artists sing about, but in a gentle way, invoking a sense of self reflection and acceptance.

Additionally, the track “My Ted Talk” really separates itself from the rest of the album. It is confessional song, where mxmtoon delves into the insecurity and doubt she has over her own music. “I find myself writing all these songs about romantic relationships, which is ironic considering I’ve had very little experience with that,” says Maia. “That song came from me asking, ‘Am I even allowed to write something I barely know anything about?’” She answered her question by adding “I’ve realized that my songs are a way for me to untangle my emotions and try to make sense of what I’m going through, even if I don’t fully understand it in the moment.” 

Regarding her new album, Maia said, “I hope people come away from it feeling like the songs belong to them too—like now there’s a piece of art in the world that speaks to their own experiences, even if they’d always felt like they were alone.”

“The Masquerade” deserves five stars. Mxmtoon has a gift for taking complicated feelings and packing them into a neat little song. The rhymes, the ukulele chords, and the passion all combine  into a talented singer who is revolutionizing what it means to create music.