mxmtoon’s ‘365 Days with mxmtoon’ podcast offers bite-sized, digestible history factoids

Photo of the cover of mxmtoon's podcast "365 days with mxmtoon"
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Grade: 3.5/5.0

Maia, who goes by the mononym mxmtoon, is best known for her lo-fi pop music and social media presence. Continuing to expand her artistic interdisciplinary portfolio, the Oakland local launched a daily podcast called “365 Days with mxmtoon,” a collection of 10-minute episodes that walk listeners through that day in history.

Distributed by Talkhouse, the podcast has released episodes daily since Sept. 14. mxmtoon narrates stories about anything and everything, with episodes ranging from the first anti-smoking public service announcement to Trevor Noah joining “The Daily Show” to Edgar Allen Poe’s mysterious death. Some segments feel like they’re read straight out of a history textbook, while others are superbly wacky and random. With topics jumping across time and covering moments such as the evolution of the gramophone and how Disney Channel began making original movies, listeners never know quite what to expect when tuning in for the day.

The podcast’s episodes are remarkably easy to follow, acting more as historical summaries rather than commentaries or conversations. Realistically, anyone could host this podcast; though mxmtoon makes her individualized mark with her own catchy jingle, her narration is relatively plain and simple. She’s always clear and thoughtful, but she isn’t spectacularly insightful. She interjects with the occasional remark or self-deprecating joke to make episodes more personal, but the majority of the podcast is straightforward history read from a page. The podcast production is clean yet not particularly striking — it’s the selection of peculiar topics that makes it engaging.

mxmtoon’s latest podcast arrives a little more than a year after her first podcast “21 Days,” which was a collaborative effort with Spotify that provided listeners an exclusive look into the making of her debut album The Masquerade. While “365 Days” is predominantly history-based, it also gives nods to mxmtoon’s musical roots: In addition to her longer history segment, she features a fun fact about music related to that day in history. For example, she takes listeners back to 2013 when Lorde released the revolutionary pop record Pure Heroine and to 1967 when rock band The Doors refused to censor the word “higher” during a live television performance. The podcast has even featured the voices of a few special musical guests, including Carly Rae Jepsen, Gia Woods and Amy Allen.

In each episode’s final and arguably most amusing segment, mxmtoon takes history to a more personal level. Every episode ends with mxmtoon sifting through her camera roll, selecting a photograph from that day in history and sharing an anecdote or two. Some photos happen to be major milestones in her musical career, such as seeing herself on a billboard for the first time or releasing her debut album. Other photos unlock more unusual, vividly specific anecdotes — for example, taking her cat Boo Radley to get a haircut or accidentally using salt instead of sugar when making cookies for her homeroom class. Though these memorable episode endings might appeal primarily to mxmtoon’s fans, the entertaining, real-life snippets often offer a much-needed break from historical facts.

“365 Days” generally takes on a lighthearted tone, but it can also shift to more serious topics. In one episode, mxmtoon discusses segregation and the historic Brown v. Board of Education case, and she ends the history segment by encouraging listeners to educate themselves, vote and actively practice anti-racism. In another, she discusses the racism and sexism that Vanessa Williams faced as the first Black woman to win the Miss America title. mxmtoon smoothly navigates these critical topics with care, and the podcast’s ability to take on essentially any subject is impressive.

As entertaining as it is educational, mxmtoon’s “365 Days” is an informative, low-commitment podcast that will have listeners coming back for more. Even though most of the last 365 days have been anything but easy, listening to the latest installment of the podcast is a refreshing way to start every morning.

Contact Taila Lee at [email protected].