If you follow the “365 days with mxmtoon” podcast, you probably have a unique way of looking at the world. For example, you know emojis were invented around this time of year, and you even know a little song to go with them.
The 20-year-old Californian podcaster mxmtoon – whose real name is Maia, the last name being kept under wraps – is first and foremost a singer and songwriter. At age 15, she started making albums at home, writing hummable pop tunes that were whimsical, very personal, or both; she was a fan of Elliott Smith and Regina Spektor. She promoted the songs with viral videos – one of which rewrote the lyrics in the language of the video game The Sims – which created a buzz on the internet.
The 365 Days podcast, which debuted last September, is more about old-school storytelling. Every day she digs up an interesting part of the history of that date, associated with a piece of music and finally something that she herself did on that date. It is currently Spotify’s third highest rated podcast; and drew famous fans – including Sir Elton John, who named her in his own Rocket Hour podcast.
âIt was one of the strangest moments I have had in my life. I can’t believe he even has a vague understanding of who I am, âshe said from her home this week.
Particularly during her forties, she says, her life has been a strange mixture of isolation and notoriety.
âPeople who know who I am is something I get used to when working in my small bedroom. I’ve been making YouTube videos since I was 12, so it felt natural to present them to an audience. There are definitely some limitations, like my real name and trying to protect people in my everyday life. But the authenticity of my project comes from the fact that I feel comfortable sharing things. And it’s socially easier to be myself than to pick up the pieces.
â365 daysâ takes up most of her time these days, and she says finding daily facts isn’t a problem (she also has a small research team helping her). âAbsolutely not a problem – maybe if I only did the American version some days it would be difficult, but it’s a big, exciting world. I’ve always been a fan of encouraging people to be curious about the world. There are days when I know what’s coming, and other days it’s a wait. So I wish I could tell you that I had planned for the next two months, but at this point I’m still working to get through May.
With the pandemic easing, she plans to adapt the podcast to a live setting. Meanwhile, her other projects are getting more and more publicity: She was one of a handful of big and small names making cameos in a gun control video recently made by TV satirist Samantha. Bee. âAs I have a predominantly teenage audience and they all share this concern, it seemed like a no-brainer,â she said.
She was also recently approached by the creators of the video game Life Is Strange: True Colors to cover Radiohead’s “Creep”, which she chose to do on the ukelele. âIt’s such an iconic song, so how do you approach it? All I could do was do as much as I could.
And although she’s done podcasting most of her life, she still gets used to the idea of ââtens of thousands of people logging in every day. âI am still processing this information. Part of me is still convinced that only seven people listen, and they’re all from my grandmother’s fan club in California.