Rebecca Mayes and The Epic Win

26 08 2010

This is my new favourite song. My new favourite song, otherwise known as my most current favourite song, usually only lasts as long as until I hear something new from one of my favourite bands, but this is slightly different. This is really like nothing I’ve heard before, in so many weird and wonderful ways. This is a beautiful musical representation of modern gaming classic Mass Effect 2 that’s just as haunting and makes almost as big an impression as the game itself (along with a saccharine-sweet DIY indie video). This is Rebecca Mayes, and she’s brilliant.Vodpod videos no longer available. 

Video games affect people in many different ways. For most, it’s the overwhelming desire to go and play some more, and I’m fairly certain the producers would be happy with that outcome. So too would a lot of designers and developers, for if a game is a commercial success, somebody will pay them to make another. There’s less of an artisan culture where video games are concerned, compared with more mature (in terms of lifespan, not content) industries such as film and music (think about how often a big Hollywood star does a low-budget artisan flick instead of a Spielberg/Lucas blockbuster – that hasn’t happened in the games industry since Peter Molyneux left bullfrog/EA in 1997 to form Lionhead Studios). Possibly as a result of this (or a million other variables, I am speculating after all) the creative output of fans on the back of gaming is relatively low – other than weirdos like me who write about it, the odd souls who do fan fiction or fan art, and those who want to develop games for a living (but most never get even close), it’s negligible. Which is why it was a breath of fresh air to stumble across Rebecca Mayes and her quirky songs that take inspiration from the world of gaming, in the same fantastic way that Freddie Wong creates amazing videos based on his gaming favourites

Photo of Rebecca Mayes

Rebecca wears thick coats in her studio because it's so cold, not because she has a thing for East 17.

Rebecca primarily ‘lives’ on GamePeople (where games are reviewed and columns are written based on various niches, for example Lottie Rose’s Haiku reviews) and runs a column there called Audio Gamer in which she reviews games in a fairly inimitable style, sparkly fingerpicking and hippy barefoot sensibilities combine with an elfin voice and just the right mix of love for games/well-observed critique/cheekyness. Having already occupied a small but unique spot in the video game milieu she then found herself thrust into (relative insider) stardom by being offered a regular slot, Rebecca Mayes Muses for the Escapist magazine and latterly reviewing Mad World in song form for Charlie Brooker’s GamesWipe on BBC 4 (that’s proper telly!) I unfortunately didn’t discover Rebecca until a few days ago. I have to confess, it’s because while I love to read the current issue features on the Escapist, I generally don’t watch any of their video content because I really can’t stand Yahtzee (their super-offensive video columnist) so discounted all the other videos as probably just as awful, but I’m rather glad I gave Rebecca a shot. I used to have heavy involvement in the music scene in a former life, but even now that technology is my focus I haven’t forgotten to take time to appreciate an awesome band or fantastic songwriting, and for those who are interested enough in games to care, she could be your new favourite artist. Think something in between my childhood hero Evan Dando (of the Lemonheads) for a sweet tune and cheeky demeanour, and soon-to-be-huge Kingston singer/songwriter Dave House for witty lyrics and a wry take on modern existence, and you’ll be close – except with a gentle lilt and sparkling clarity of the likes of amazing Manchester singer/songwriter Rachael Kichenside (the old music journo in me is bursting to get out…) 

Another favourite of mine from Rebecca’s catalogue is her take on Batman: Arkham Asylum that really homes in on some of the reasons why the game was great, in a delightfully twee way. You can catch all of her masterpieces so far on her album The Epic Win, available now from iTunes. Here’s what she has to say about the album: 

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