Watch mxmtoon – fever dream
On her 2019 debut album the masquerade, 19-year-old singer/songwriter mxmtoon delivers what she calls “rhyming diary entries”: an off-the-cuff account of her most private thoughts and feelings, usually dashed off very late at night, straight from her brightly lit brain. In her deliberate refusal to hide behind the metaphor, the now Brooklyn-based artist otherwise known as maia achieves quiet bravery, an unrestrained honesty that gives voice to those who often go unheard.
“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 in reflecting on the title to the masquerade. “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.”
Newly relocated from her native Oakland, maia is currently at work on a pair of back-to-back EPs due out later this year with the first single the spellbinding “fever dream.” With its soaring chorus and shapeshifting textures, the song finds mxmtoon executing her sound on a far more sonically adventurous scale than she’s ever explored before.
maia gives some insight into the song telling us “launching myself into the music industry was a rollercoaster chapter in my life, and even still I’m extremely new to this world. “fever dream” is about exactly that and the leap of faith that’s required when you make decisions in your life at different points. you may not always know the outcome, but trusting yourself, allowing yourself the opportunity to take risks, and the chance to face new challenges can be utterly rewarding. much of my life since it has felt like a fever dream, a blur of moments sometimes too grand to even comprehend, but i wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Over the past couple of years, maia has built a remarkable bond with her audience entirely on the strength of her resonant songwriting and unaffected presence. Her 2018 debut EP plum blossom clocked more than 100 million streams on Spotify alone—not bad for songs recorded by herself in her parents’ guest room. She’s now amassing millions of followers and subscribers across YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram, making a point of using her ever-growing platform to speak out on issues close to her heart. “As a young bisexual woman of color from a family of immigrants, a lot of current events directly affect who I am,” says maia, who’s mixed Chinese-American. “I firmly believe it’s my obligation and opportunity to speak on issues that affect us all.”