mxmtoon has absolutely trailblazed the scene in recent years. She’s racked up millions of streams across her various jangly, bedroom pop tunes, garnered legions of fans across TikTok, hosts a podcast and manages to fit streaming regularly on Twitch into the mix too.
She’s pretty much the definition of the over-achieving, multi-hyphenate Gen Z that can pretty much master whatever platform they’re given.
In her next leap into complete domination, mxmtoon plays the singing voice of Alex Chen in the latest iteration of Life Is Strange: True Colours. To celebrate the game’s upcoming release, we sat down with her to chat about all things Life Is Strange, queer representation, the pressures that come with covering Radiohead, and more.
PEDESTRIAN.TV: Were you kind of a fan of Life Is Strange before voicing Alex for the upcoming game?
mxmtoon: Yeah, 100%! I actually started playing the Life Is Strange games in 2017 — I streamed the first game and prequel on Twitch, and that was my first introduction to the characters, and I absolutely loved it. I actually played it with my brother, and we streamed it together, and I’ve just been a big fan since then. So when the opportunity came knocking on my door to be the singing voice of Alex in Life is Strange: True Colours, it was like an immediate yes, for me to be able to be a part of it.
PTV: It seems like Alex kind of is a character that resonates with you on a personal level — what does voicing her mean to you?
mxmtoon: I’m wearing my glasses, which are almost identical to Alex. I not only look physically really similar to her, but when I was reading her character description and got to find out more info on her story and everything, I was just blown away that we shared so many similarities being queer Asian people. As a queer Asian kid growing up, I just didn’t have those sorts of characters to look to as an example for myself and to know that I was not alone in the identities I was navigating.
If I think about Life Is Strange: True Colours in the context of what it’s going to do for young gamers in terms of representation and allowing people to see their stories and narratives reflected in the characters they’re playing, it’s so powerful. If I had someone like Alex Chen growing up, I probably would not have felt so alone in navigating my sort of self.
It’s really exciting to be able to be a part of a character that shares so many identities with me and to know that she’s going to be out in the world for people to also find themselves within her as well.
PTV: How did you navigate that experience of getting into character?
mxmtoon: I was really lucky because Alex and I are so similar it didn’t feel like too large of a leap in terms of what I needed to do to act out her singing portions because I think if anything, like, I just tried to make it more dramatic for the the the purposes of the game and the environment.
I guess I kind of tried it out with just singing the way I normally would, and it works so well from the get-go that I just kept doing that. So I think I just kind of view her presence as a duplicate of myself almost and carrying my own voice over into the game.
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PTV: You’ve recorded a cover of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ for the game’s soundtrack — what was it like covering such an iconic track?
mxmtoon: It was really scary. Like, it’s probably one of the most covered songs in human history. So it was terrifying to try and make my own rendition of it and make something that felt like me and, and not feeling like I needed to copy the Radiohead version, which I think is, you know, is this really angsty and kind of angry song that is about being alienated.
In Alex’s situation, I had to figure out, you know, what’s the opposite end of that, and what sort of story am I telling in this, and it’s, it is about alienation. But it’s also just about the weirdness of, like, what she’s going through. I think taking a more emotionally vulnerable approach to it and my own version of the song and then for her version in the game was really important. It was about making it sound more vulnerable and get less angsty. I think we ended up achieving that.
PTV: You’re also such a multidisciplinary artist. How do you go about kind of navigating all these different versions of yourself.
mxmtoon: It’s a lot of hats to put on daily to try and switch between everything. I was just always that kid who couldn’t ever decide on one thing to do, I was like, that kid growing up who just did all the extracurriculars because only one of them was too boring. So having all these different areas to express myself creatively, I think, has been necessary almost to making sure that I am seen as an individual. I think it contributes to the craziness that I experienced with my job.
But also, it helps me really feel like I can be a diverse voice and allowing myself to have multiple avenues of expression, like doing something like a podcast, you know, it flexes the ability for me to talk about my other interests as a person or playing video games. And being a part of Life Is Strange allows me to share my passion for that with my audience
So I think all of these things that I do and being like a multi-hyphenate in the music industry really lends itself to, I think, broadening people’s perspective of who I am and allowing them to find an audience’s kind of similarity between them and me.
PTV: You have such an open dialogue with your fans online — how has your relationship with them changed and developed over time?
mxmxtoon: I think I have a very close relationship with my audience. I think it’s because we’ve really grown up with each other, like I’ve been posting online since I was 12, and now I’m 21. So I think there’s a closeness formed with the similarity of experience in terms of watching my audience members navigate high school, or navigate going to college, or whatever it is, and doing those sorts of big life chief moments alongside each other. So I think the closeness that I experience is really, because once people find me online, they really do stick around.
I feel so thankful that I have not only formed an audience, but really a community of peers and people that are doing these things alongside me, and so I don’t know it’s I know that I don’t know all these people personally, but it really truly feels like I’m going to school every single day and showing up and seeing what my fellow students are up to and, and getting these life updates.
So it’s really special, and it’s really intimate, and I think I wouldn’t want to have it any other way because it’s so human. So that’s why I like what I do.
PTV: You’ve had a pretty huge 2021 year so far (congrats!) — what’s left in store?
mxmtoon: I’m finishing up this year-long podcast I started last year as well and rounding off lots of big projects, which is really exciting. I’m leaving it open-ended for myself to think about what’s next, which will hopefully include doing some more similar projects to the things I’ve been working on this year. I also want to work on another full-length project — I’m keeping it as varied as I can and busy as I can, but still exciting.
You can cop Life is Strange: True Colors now on PlayStation 5®, PlayStation 4®, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC Steam.Image: Instagram / mxmtoon