Maia, aka mxmtoon, is a 19-year-old singer-songwriter from Oakland. Her angsty lyrics have become an anthem for the socially distant. She’s in a better position than a lot of artists struggling to figure out how to produce and share their music now that everyone is sheltering in place. She’s built her career on social media from her parents' house and has already amassed millions of followers. Her new EP dropped on April 22. Her uncle, video and radio journalist Clarence Ting, has witnessed her transformation into a social media star. He brings us this reflection.
Timing, as the old saying goes, is everything. For mxmtoon, who also goes by her first name Maia, that turned out to be especially true with the release of her latest hit single. It’s called “Quiet Motions” and it dropped in March, just as COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic.
“ 'Quiet Motions' was a song I wrote back in January about how nice it was to be by myself, because as an introvert, I definitely stand by that statement,” Maia told me. “But the irony was that we released it two weeks before social distancing really kind of struck in the United States.” She said her whole team was laughing the day that it came out because it was so "unfortunately relevant," and then she said, "It kinda turned into a quarantine anthem."
Maia is my niece and I’ve known her since she was born. She’s my sister's first kid, but little could I have known when I first filmed Maia, then 7 years old — for a home cooking video I made and uploaded to YouTube about a dozen years ago — that she would grow into the musical artist with millions of listeners on Spotify and over 1.6 million followers on TikTok alone.