Picture this: It is 11:00PM on a Sunday. Rain gently caresses the windows. Your reflection stares back at you. Insomnia strikes again. The melatonin doesn’t work. Counting sheep doesn’t work. Taking a bath doesn’t work. You put on your headphones: “When the sun peaks out, I sit outside to bask in my tiny bit of light.”
You’re listening to Mxmtoon’s “seasonal depression,” off her album the masquerade, where Maia sings of, go figure, seasonal depression and its up and down effects.
“I realized there was no song about seasonal depression, so I decided to make one to fill the void,” says Maia. “I wanted to be honest about the feeling of waking up and having no desire to do anything with your day—but then also maybe
help people feel a little better and lighter when they’re stuck in that gray moment.”
Her intimate, warm style allows late night listeners to fall into an immersive, story-telling experience, almost like it was recorded in a teen bedroom at night. As she gains hope during the chorus, the instrumentals speed up and become more bubbly; as she falls back down, the song slows and follows her breathy voice: a style somewhat similar to Billie Eilish. Once the chorus reaches, “I have seasonal depression…” she makes the music go into a major key and you cannot help but bob your head a bit as the instrumental in the background makes you feel almost happy or energized. Making it more like a conversation, mxmtoon speaks “cause’” towards the end of the song. Twinkling bells begin to file in during the final chorus.
This 19 year old singer and songwriter has over 100 million streams on spotify and 32.8 million likes on TikTok . This past summer, Maia recorded “seasonal depression” and 9 other songs (with acoustic versions of each) on her album the masquerade in a studio with producer Robin Skinner (aka Cavetown).
— maia (@mxmtoon) September 18, 2019
“Robin and I are both artists who mostly work out of our bedrooms, so even though we had this gigantic studio, we
made almost the entire album sitting right next to each other in the control room,” she says. “Looking back, we probably could’ve just recorded in a closet.”
Her song “Prom Dress,” used in over 50,000 TikTok videos, revealed her chosen aesthetic and sound for her album. Her aesthetic is almost a 2000’s look, as she incorporates a grainy film entrance to the music video that has over 4 million views on youtube. Her music video prom seems more like a teen movie, and even includes her on TikTok as it starts.
Overall, Masquerade unleashes numerous emotions on the listener. You do not have to like the songs, but you can definitely tell there is a lot of emotion and thoughts put into her music. She labeled her sound as “the sad uke music you cry to,” when interviewed by Rolling Stone in July.
“I find myself writing all these songs about romantic relationships, which is ironic considering I’ve had very little experience with that…am I even allowed to write something I barely know about?” said Maia. “But 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 at the moment.”
Review contributed by Niomi Ellis, Kailey Scigliano, Peter Bauer, Carly Spahr, Maya Berg, and Madison Perry