mxmtoon takes it to the next level with songs in a new video game, “Life Is Strange: True Colors”
With every decision we make, a new future unfolds. If you go left or right at the proverbial fork, there will be a certain peculiar road ahead of you. We are responsible for our future, whether or not we are lucid and aware of it at the time. As such, it can take a lot of effort to stay focused on every move, as you try to take your future by the reins. This is true whether you are navigating a personal introspection or running through a new level of video game, trying to grab gold rings or meeting and getting to know a new character.
Today, no one gets better than musician, mxmtoon (aka Maia), who recently finished writing music for a new adventure-style video game, and is now ready to dive back into his own brand of creation construction of the world.
“It was interesting working on Alex’s writing last year,” mxmtoon told American Songwriter. “Now I have to figure out how to write again for myself. I return to the space of personal expression in my lyrics.
Alex, for those wondering, is Alex Chen, the protagonist of the new Life Is Strange: True Colors video game from Deck Nine Games, released in September. The character, says mxmtoon, looks a lot like him. They have similar histories, worldly orientations, and identities. While the character was not necessarily developed as an mxmtoon, there are many shared similarities.
In the game, Alex is a 21-year-old Asian American musician who struggles to deal with her own emotions. And that’s what’s beautiful about the new video game: It’s not your typical first-person shooter, it’s not a hunt for gold bullion. Instead, it’s a narrative game where the central character is discovered, internally. For the 21-year-old Oakland-born mxmtoon, who rose to fame with their subtle pop music, this is the perfect solution for songwriting.
“It’s not like Sonic [the Hedgehog] where you try to get all the rings, ”says mxmtoon. “It’s not like Mario where you try to collect all the stars. All the issues are emotional. The decisions you make aren’t about how can I survive, it’s about whether I’m gonna take this [other] the person feels this, and is it okay?
As a musician, mxmtoon says this process was liberating, even exhilarating. Since the game is more emotionally charged, it allowed him to explore some artistic depth. While many video games are known for their soundtracks, this one wasn’t going to include loud, raging songs. Instead, it was more of a nuanced task. For the game, mxmtoon wrote two original songs and recorded two covers (Radiohead‘s “Creep” and Violent Femmes “Blister in the Sun). And since the covers, which were chosen by the game company, were so different -” Creep “is darker,” Blister in the Sun “is brighter – mxmtoon says she wanted to fill those two extremes with her tunes while keeping the game’s plot intact.
“Getting into Alex’s fear was really important to me,” says mxmtoon.
In truth, there is nothing scarier than your own mind. All the dread we think we feel when we watch a horror movie or play a ruthless video game is all in our own heads, not really in the movie or the game itself. That way a title like Life is Strange: True Colors, which explores the depths and range of Alex’s emotions, is as real and emotional, and impactful as any other. So as Alex moves through the game, which includes learning music and approaching his crush, real hearts race and fingers tremble. And for mxmtoon, who streamed live while playing the game on Twitch, she realized how varied and personal it can be. In this way, the game can also teach the very concept of identity.
“Seeing the divergence in my decisions versus my audience members was really interesting,” she says. “In my mind, my choices made perfect sense, but seeing [another’s] choice, it’s like I never thought of it that way. She adds, “It totally helps us understand the people around us.”
Life is Strange: True Colors has no path to success. It’s like those adventure books where results are determined by individual decision making. Now, however, these books have been redesigned and taken to a whole new immersive level. And mxmtoon says she’s been playing these games for years. So it was obvious for her to accept the idea when asked. She is a longtime fan of the Deck Nine series.
“When they reached out,” she said, “I was like, of course, I would be honored to sing for that character. She looked almost identical to me. She has a similar story to me. It was like that. most perfect opportunity ever.
As a child, mxmtoon says she started playing video games when she was six years old. His dad introduced him to a first-person shooter, which mxmtoon laughs at today. But she’s been a games fan ever since, from the first LEGO video games to the title she’s playing in now. Yet this side of her is also a slice of her creative and curious life. For the artist, the sheer reality that she gets from following her interests and indulging her curiosity is as important as anything else. Now, with the game’s work behind it, there are new songs to write, new mxmtoon projects to dive into. And the more she strives, the more she continues to level up, so to speak.
“I’m really glad there are no limits in my mind,” said mxmtoon. “I am grateful to have the opportunity to be creative and to do it for a living. And I’m thankful that I don’t stick to one thing. I have a lot of interests and I am glad that my curiosity apparently has no limits. So I can’t wait to see what happens in the future.