Mxmtoon, the 21-year-old singer-songwriter from Oakland, California, who has become one of the indie world’s major breakthroughs, recently graced the Artists Den with a performance of new and older songs on “Live From My Den.” Recorded at the same Brooklyn studio where she made her debut album, the singer unveiled some songs from her forthcoming album “Rising,” which comes out on May 20.
The singer is already on tour supporting the album, but she talked with us about the album, her history and the evolution that her songwriting undertook during the pandemic. Her earlier songs had a comedy bent, then turned darker during the pandemic, and have since boosted into dance music as lockdown has lifted.
“I think comedy was just a ways of expressing a side of myself that maybe people didn’t necessarily see in my everyday life in high school,” she says. “I was very much an ‘Okay, I’m gonna do everything everybody expects of me and asks of me’ kind of person, and so writing songs that felt funnier or more self-deprecating but vulnerable still felt like an expression of my individual that I hadn’t really gotten to explore yet. Eventually I moved out of it, and I became kind of more true to my actual self and less, I guess, shielded in my own kind of vulnerability, with having to format it through comedy.
“But [during the pandemic], like a lot of people, I was really sad and it’s hard to find joy when you have your life ripped out from underneath you. I was about to go on a tour for EPs that I was releasing in 2020, and all of that stopped being a possibility. So I wrote a really, really bunch of sad lyrics because there was really nothing else that I could feel at that point. But I realized at a certain point that music was always supposed to be a way for me to both express myself but also to feel release. So ‘Rising,’ I just really felt so strongly about being able to make songs that I could experience joy through while assessing and understanding the sadness that I was feeling. And through the pandemic, like many people, I think I leaned on the things that I found most comforting growing up – like music that I had listened to on CDs when I was 5 years old, and taking inspiration from those things to help me find my voice now as a 21-year-old musician.”
Watch the full interview and performance above.
New episodes of “Live From My Den” will premiere each week exclusively via Variety.com. “Live From My Den” is made possible and brought to life by Hard Rock and in partnership with Fujifilm North America Corporation (Fujifilm). Artists include Latin star Justin Quiles, synth-pop duo Magdalena Bay and singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins.