Maia is a teenage musician who goes by the name mxmtoon. She is a singer, songwriter, and ukulele player who loves to make Youtube videos showing her talents with the world. She is about to take the stage, so catch her on her upcoming tour!
Photos by Ryan Yee
BL: What inspired you to upload your first YouTube video?
mxmtoon: In middle school my dream was to actually be a YouTuber full time! Believe it or not I ran through two attempts at it before uploading all the videos that are on my channel now. I think what’s always inspired me though is wanting to be able to share my story, even when I was younger. I’ve been lucky to have a strong sense of self ever since I was young and I always thought of YouTube as a tool that could connect me and find commonalities with other people. So, I thought it couldn’t hurt to upload a video where I talk about who I am in hopes that other people could connect.
BL: You now have millions of views and streams of YouTube, Spotify, and other platforms. How does that feel?
mxmtoon: Overwhelming and cool! Never in a million years did I think I’d get those kind of stats. It’s unbelievable to me that I’ve been able to reach so many people in so many different capacities, and my overarching goal with anything I do in life is to connect with people, so it’s wild I’ve been able to achieve it at such a scale at only 18!
BL: You play the ukulele. How did you learn to play it?
mxmtoon: I learned in middle school actually. They switched the music curriculum from guitar to ukulele because guitar was a little to difficult for 6th graders, so I started learning in 7th grade! I probably did a majority of the practice outside of school though and watched endless amounts of ukulele tutorials on YouTube.
BL: How old were you when you started to make music?
mxmtoon: Thirteen! That’s when I wrote my first song, and it definitely wasn’t good. I did it with two friends for a mandatory music assignment and it was literally a song about not knowing what to put in a song mixed with a bunch of random words that rhymed. I wrote my next song for my 8th grade graduation and continued to write after that point but didn’t share anything online until 2017.
BL: What instruments do you play?
mxmtoon: Ukulele (of course), guitar, cello, and some piano! I’ve taken lessons for violin and trumpet as well, but it’s safe to say that I don’t remember how to play either and only really wanted to learn trumpet so I could play the Star Wars theme song (I never got to anyways, honestly a huge bummer).
BL: What is your favorite part about being a musician?
mxmtoon: My favorite part is definitely just how many people that I can resonate with just by singing about my feelings. Obviously, I’m super lucky to have turned a hobby into a job, but it’s astounding to me that I can be a part of so many people’s day to day whether they be listening to my music on the bus to school or watching one of my videos to wind down after a long day.
BL: How do you come up with new songs?
mxmtoon: I don’t really keep a diary or journal, so for me my songs act as one. So, I guess whenever I’m feeling an emotion really deeply or have an experience I want to talk about, I get inspiration to write from there. But it all depends. The creative process totally varies from song to song, but typically it works out like that.
BL: What advice would you give to young girls starting out?
mxmtoon: Be patient and have fun! Don’t pressure yourself to make something perfect, everything takes time. The most important thing you can do if you want to try out music or anything, in general, is to make sure you enjoy it. If you don’t have fun there’s not much point! So, be kind to yourself and understand it’s all a process and to check in with yourself to make sure you’re having a nice time.
BL: How do you deal with online bullying?
mxmtoon: Online bullying is the worst because people can be so nasty on the internet. What I tend to do when someone says hurtful things to me is put down my phone for a while and spend time with my loved ones. I also think about how people feel allowed to say mean things on the internet because they’re protected by a sort of wall that lets them comment things they wouldn’t ever say to you in person. If someone is bullying you it’s a reflection on them and not on you!
BL: What do you think makes a good friend?
mxmtoon: Definitely trust, honesty, and humor! As I’ve gotten older it’s been nice to have friends that I feel like I could talk about anything with and they would honor what I’m sharing by just listening and not sharing behind my back. I’ve also been lucky enough to stay really close friends with people that I’ve known since I was 10, and I think those friendships are built off of good communication and also knowing that we’ll always have a fun time hanging out even if we haven’t seen each other in a few months.
BL: What is your favorite thing to do with friends?
mxmtoon: I love just sitting in a car with one of my best friends and singing along to music really loudly and not really knowing what our plan is but making up our day as we go. I go to museums with my friends, movies, and even Target and each of those activities can be equally fun just because of the person you do them with!
BL: Is there anything you are excited about in the near future?
mxmtoon: I’m really excited about my tour that’s coming up! It’s gonna be so much fun to meet more people that listen to my music and get to sing my songs with them. It’s the most surreal experience to perform live with everyone singing along to your song, but it’s my favorite thing ever. It’s like a big karaoke session.
BL: What is next for you in your career?
mxmtoon: Hopefully more writing and performing. Besides tour I’m looking forward to working on new music and exploring different avenues with the style and actual lyrics as well. I try to take it day by day so we’ll see! I’m happy to have so many people on the journey with me as it can be a little daunting sometimes, but so exciting. This was the first year that I’ve taken all my time to focus on music and I’m looking forward to continuing to do so!
BL: If you could tell your 13-year-old self one thing, what would you say?
mxmtoon: To not worry so much. I spent so much time worrying about the what-ifs that I think I missed out on a lot. Living a little, but more in the present and enjoying the people and places around you is so important, because ultimately life will figure itself out! So enjoy the moment and know things will be fine even if they’re overwhelming right now.
BL: What are some things you are currently into?
mxmtoon: Way too into video games, and have been for the past ten or so years! Really enjoying chai lattes, I think I’m on a twenty day streak of drinking them. Also been watching so many cooking shows on Netflix, my favorites are The Final Table, The Great British Baking Show, and Chef’s Table!
BL: Top 5 things you can’t live without?
mxmtoon: In no particular order: my family, my cat, earbuds, lip balm, and (cheesy answer) music.
BL: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
mxmtoon: Oh my gosh, I think about how amazing it would be to fly every day. I dream about being able to zoom around the city and sky watching everything from above!
BL: Current favorite fad?
mxmtoon: Love mom jeans, I wear them in like five different colors and have replaced every pair of pants I own with them. They’re so comfortable! Also they make me look a little taller than I actually am so that’s a big plus too.
BL: Celebrity crush?
mxmtoon: Would definitely be lying if I didn’t say Tom Holland, I wrote a whole song about him on my YouTube channel it’s pretty embarrassing. I mean he has a cute dog too so who can blame me! Also Emma Watson. Totally had a crush ever since I was little and watching the Harry Potter movies. She’s a queen!