After sharing her illuminating take on the Radiohead classic ‘Creep’ in March, we chat with mxmtoon on her role as the singing voice of protagonist Alex Chen in the video game, Life Is Strange: True Colors, as well as her latest EP.
Earlier this year in March, bedroom pop singer mxmtoon (real name: Maia) dropped a special cover of Radiohead’s ‘creep’ that would be featured as part of the latest instalment of the critically-acclaimed Life Is Strange video game.
The 21-year-old, who streams video games in her spare time and is a fan of the Life Is Strange series, announced to fans that she would be the singing voice for Alex Chen, the protagonist of Life Is Strange: True Colors.
Also read: mxmtoon releases special cover of ‘Creep’ for ‘Life Is Strange: True Colors’
To coincide with the release of the game, Maia shared a four-track EP titled true colors (from Life Is Strange) featuring two original tracks ‘in the darkness’ and ‘every wave’ alongside ‘creep’ and a cover of Violent Femmes’ ‘blister in the sun’.
We caught up with the rising talent as she shares her excitement in her feature role in the game.
AsiaLive365: Hello Maia! How’s it going, how would you describe this year?
mxmtoon: Hey! I’m really thankful that I would manage to find some projects to work on, and also got the opportunity to work on something as cool as Life Is Strange!
AsiaLive365: So your music career has been meteoric. You’re constantly on the rise and now it’s led you to feature in a video game! How does it feel to be Alex in the new Life Is Strange game? Well, just the singing voice of the main character, anyway.
mxmtoon: It feels really weird! I’ve been playing Life Is Strange since four years ago, so I’ve been a massive fan of the game franchise. When I was in the process of the creation and talking to the development team, I felt like I walked into the wrong meeting room where I got to learn all this really cool information about something that I was just really into! So it was super fun! It kinda felt like I was working on the coolest science fair project ever. I’m over the moon, I’m really happy.
AL365: How did that come about? Did developer Deck Nine and publisher Square Enix knew you are a fan of the games?
mxmtoon: I think so, they knew that I had played them previously on Twitch. I streamed two of its titles around 2017-2018 initially, so I think they knew that going into asking me to see if I would be interested in singing for Alex. I think they were finalizing the audio elements of the game at that point in 2020, and needed to figure out Alex’ singing pieces. I guess they reached out to me probably because we look similar and they knew I was a fan! (Laughs)
AL365: Yeah, I can see the resemblance. For me, when I look at each of your album releases, they’re each like a chapter of your life. For this video game, you released a new EP called true colors. Is the EP a representation of your current chapter in life or were you making the album from the perspective of Alex?
mxmtoon: Yeah, I definitely kinda just took it with the idea that this is a project that’s really existing for Life Is Strange and I can put my own spin on it in certain areas, adding some production elements with producers that I like working with in the past on songs that I’ve done. But I do feel like it is its own entity that exists underneath the umbrella of mxmtoon. I don’t see it as a huge piece of the projects moving forward, but I do feel like it’s a really important piece of introducing myself into the video game space and for fans of video games. I guess I could just play around with the way I wanted the songs to sound on the EP, and so there are no limits which was a really fun opportunity for me.
AL365: In this new EP, there are two original tracks. One is the EP opener ‘in the darkness’. I feel like it has similar themes that we’ve heard in your music before in the sense that it talks about feelings of loneliness or insecurities. Was there anything different from the creative process?
mxmtoon: It’s definitely written with the intention of being an Alex song, like this is the original track that I wrote for Life Is Strange, so I knew I was going into it from the perspective of ‘if I was Alex’s friend what do I want to say to her?’ I didn’t get to have all the information about the plot during the creative process, but with what I knew, I just wanted to write lyrics that felt comforting for the emotional experience that I knew she was going to go through. Ironically, it just ended up being really similar to the way that I would write songs in my own project. I think throughout the process I got to know Alex on a friend level and just wanted to make a song that felt like something her close friend would say to her.
AL365: There’s also two covers, Radiohead’s ‘creep’ by Radiohead and Violent Femmes’ ‘blister in the sun’. Were these songs of your own choosing, and if so, why these two in particular?
mxmtoon: They chose those songs for the game. They had their idea going in, they knew they wanted to use ‘Creep’ by Radiohead. So it was put upon me to figure out how to make these two famous and iconic songs feel fresh and something ‘Alex’. It was fun but daunting because these are songs much loved by fans of Radiohead and Violent Femmes. I decided I wasn’t going to try to imitate anything, I just have to make it my own and and that’s what I tried to do.
AL365: Now fans have you to thank for introducing you to such classics! Were you happy with how ‘creep’ turned out, or was there more you could have done?
mxmtoon: I was really happy, I felt like I made something that diverged from the original. The original is such an angry and angsty emotional song that Radiohead made, and I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to make something like that so I decided to take this approach and make it softer and more similar to the things that I’ve done previously in my own work. I think that lends itself to making something that felt fresh to people who are both fans and who are new to listening to a ‘creep’ cover.
AL365: You’ve mentioned before quite a few times that you are an introvert. How do you feel about your increasing fame and popularity?
mxmtoon: It’s definitely been weird at times, I just never anticipated that I would have this many people paying attention to what I was doing online. I sought out the Internet as a place to kind of talk about what I was going through without anybody actually paying attention. But I’m still grateful for having fans. I think, if anything, I really learned more about my own moments when it comes to being a person online and knowing what’s important when you’re always on social media. I do my best to take moments when I can, and try to keep grounded and connect with people in my real life not just people on Twitter all the time.
AL365: When can we expect a second studio album?
mxmtoon: I’m in the process of trying to make one right now, that’s my goal for next year.
AL365: Thank you for being here, Maia. Do you know I haven’t actually played the new Life Is Strange?
mxmtoon: I haven’t either, so we’ll both get to it at some point! (laughs).