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Mxmtoon Details Rerecording Her Debut EP With Newfound Confidence in Queerness (Exclusive)

Mxmtoon Details Rerecording Her Debut EP With Newfound Confidence in Queerness
Joelle Grace Taylor

Taylor Swift isn’t the only one revisiting her past music.

Mxmtoon — whose real name is Maia — released her debut EP, plum blossom, in 2018 at the tail end of her teenagehood. A lot has changed in the six years since. Now 23, Maia is promoting plum blossom (revisited), a rerecording of her debut that comes with a whole new perspective.

“Wanting to redo plum blossom was really about going back to my younger self and actually making the versions of the songs that she wanted to initially create, but didn’t have the money or the time or the understanding and vocabulary to do it,” Maia told Us Weekly exclusively ahead of her summer tour. “I’ve had this dream and this idea for a really long time, and the five-year anniversary of my first piece [is] coming up, so why not go back to these songs and actually give them a moment to breathe in a way I have always wanted to, but never got the chance to?”

No, Maia was not inspired by Swift, 34, to do the rerecording (“I had the idea before I knew about the Taylor Swift recap version!”), but the “feelings are fatal” singer admires Swift regardless.

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“It’s an empowering thing to be able to take charge of your back catalog and reclaim it for your[self],” Maia said of the pop star.

Maia — whose online fan base follows her multiplatform talents across social media, gaming, podcasting and even graphic novels — self-released her early music from home, working with GarageBand to record and upload her songs to YouTube. In revisiting her early work, Maia was able to hone in the production of the EP with the help of professional producers and engineers.

Mxmtoon Details Rerecording Her Debut EP With Newfound Confidence in Queerness
Joelle Grace Taylor

While many things — including a pandemic, a presidential election and six Met Galas — have occurred since the 2018 release of plum blossom, for Maia, one of the most transformative changes was her coming out as bisexual.

“It was really weirdly emotional,” Maia told Us of revisiting the songs she wrote while still in the closet. “It’s always strange to go back to the things that you wrote when you were at a point in your life that you honestly barely knew anything about yourself. And if you did, you didn’t feel equipped to maybe step into those identities in the fullest capacity.”

She continued: “It was very healing to go back and actually think, OK, wow, I’ve actually grown so much as a person and I get to sing these songs with a new perspective and a new understanding of life and who I am.’ And I think that’s really special.”

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While Maia plans to spend Pride Month on tour — headlining her own shows and also opening for AJR’s The Maybe Man stadium tour — there is nowhere else she feels more secure in her identity.

“Touring has always felt like this weird space where I get to actually accept my queerness in the fullest capacity,” she told Us. “I was coming into these live show settings and being surrounded by people that were holding pride flags and openly embracing who they were in a way that I grew up, quite frankly, never feeling like I could do fully.”

Growing up in an Asian American family in the Bay Area of California, Maia shared that she struggled with shyness and that “queerness wasn’t necessarily at the forefront of the conversation.”

Now, she feels proud of her intersecting identities, even recalling a recent show in China where she was pleasantly surprised by fans holding pride flags in the audience. (It was her first return in a decade to the country where her mother’s side of the family is from.)

“Oh, my God, this is obviously such a universal experience,” she recalled thinking. “I’m not the only queer Asian person that’s walked the face of the earth.”

Maia continued: “I think Pride Month is really special to me because I grew up not feeling like I necessarily could fit in and could be accepted for my identity. And now to be an adult that gets to embrace it every single year is really special.”

plum blossom (revisited) is out now.

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