Proud Stories: Garmai Matthew aka Mai Moxi (she/her)
Q: What kind of performance artist are you?
Singer, Songwriter, Vocalist.
Q: When did you first know that you wanted to be a full-time artist?
As a kid, I would perform in my neighborhood with my childhood friends at community events. We truly thought we were the second coming of Destiny's child. I have been writing since I was fourteen and began recording at sixteen in high school.
During my freshman year of college my eldest sister left me with a case of CD's filled my favorites from Badu’s catalog such as Mama’s Gun, New Amerykah Part I & II ☝🏾, Baduizm, and Worldwide Underground. As well as other dope albums like Common's The Light & D'angelo‘s Voodoo which helped shaped my “sap,” which is a singing and rapping stylistic approach to songwriting and harmonizing. She always had "Word Up" magazines plastered on her wall filled with posters of Tupac, who I proudly share a birthday with, and truly shaped my music taste. I have always loved music and connecting with others through it. I've crossed paths with so many legendary people such as Kendrick Lamar, Wu-Tang Clan, Anderson Paak and many others who have inspired me to just keep GOING!
Q: How are you keeping yourself inspired to create during this unprecedented time?
Right now, writing, sketching and PINTEREST! For every video I put out, I sketch the outfits that I want to wear and work with designers and my stylist, St. Arrison Le'Moyne, who I've known since I was 7 years old, to help bring them to life. From mood boards to building a color story and detailing what I want people to feel when they listen to and watch my music and videos. What textures I want to convey in the visuals and what affect I want them to have. Before graduating from CU Boulder with a degree with concentrations in Social Science & Chinese, I went to fashion school at Kent State. There, I learned how to build a story with my fashion, and I take that with me for every project I begin.
Q: What is the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome as an artist and how did you overcome it?
Impostor Syndrome! I come from an African household, where my parents sacrificed everything to leave Liberia and resettle in Cleveland, OH, my hometown, to give us the life they wanted. They have always supported my artistic pursuits and ideas but I grew up very sheltered. I was also a bit rebellious when I went off to college and had to recenter.
After college, I worked in tech and continue to work in tech to give myself the life I want. I moved my whole life out to the Bay area, I literally drove 16 hours from Colorado to Oakland to start working in silicon valley. There, I barely recorded music. I was exposed to a strong African community which inspired some of my first Afrobeat records ever. While working in tech in the Bay, I felt like I couldn't be both "Garmai" and my alias "Mai Moxi". Moving to NY eased that impostor syndrome a bit because EVERYONE does everything! There's no one here that only does ONE thing. Living in NY has made me feel limitless. Money was always still tight though! Living here made me turn my hustle on BIG TIME.
Q: What are you most proud of in your career thus far?
I am most proud of still GOING! Even when I was on my last dime, I still found a way to record, make video treatments for my music videos and just stay the course. I am proud to have gotten my first Industry placement in EARMILK all by myself just from being CONSISTENT! A writer from EARMILK had been following my music for years and just so happened to get a gig at EARMILK. When I dropped my single B.A.D with Charles Hamilton, he was ready to do a write up on it: Here! I am also proud that I don't let people intimidate me. I see myself as a legend so I am not afraid to reach out to legends to collaborate.
Q: Is there anything you are working on now that can be shared and supported?
My Sweet Garmai music video is out now! It dropped on July 26, which is Liberia's Independence Day! It is my first Afrobeat song ft. Young Paris, a Congolese artist. I hope to celebrate Africans in this nostalgic video, especially Liberians. My fourth body of work the VIVRANT EP is dropping late summer! It's reminiscent of old school R&B groups XScape & SWV with a mix of my hometown legends Bone Thugs and Harmony, a dash of old school Southern California Boom Bap hip hop, and a splash of trapsoul all surrounded by the concept of time, love, lust and being a vibrant 20 something.
Keep up with my work online:
Stream Music: Mai Moxi
Donate through cashapp: $GarmaiKM