Samus Sings: Talking to Maddy Myers about Peace in Space

A blond woman standing in front of a microphone playing the keytar.

Maddy Myers, assistant editor of Paste Games and singer-songwriter for The Robot Knights

“Let’s Players” record themselves talking while they play games; Maddy Myers of Paste Games prefers to sing. Last month, she released her first solo project Peace in Space, a three-song EP written and sung from the perspective of Samus Aran in Super Metroid. As Myers puts it, the EP is “fan fiction set to music.”

I checked in with Myers shortly before the release of Peace in Space to learn more about the inspiration behind her “Metroid musical” and to ask her what it was like to write from the perspective of one of gaming’s most famous female protagonists.

Peace in Space, I learned, has had a long incubation period. Although Myers recorded the songs fairly recently, she first wrote them three years ago. Returning to them now, she says, is like “uncovering the artifacts of my old life.” The fact that Myers compares this process to Samus scanning artifacts in a Metroid game is indicative of Myers’ deep identification with the character.

The “old life,” for Myers, is a time defined by solitude. Three years ago, Myers was living alone for the first time: no family, friends, or roommates. It was during this time that she was first introduced to the Metroid series. She first played the Metroid Prime games before seeking out and completing every other game in the series.

In Super Metroid, Myers found a female hero who “lives alone and works alone.” Peace in Space, Myers says, is “what I felt while I was playing,” a direct translation of Myers’ experience of the game into song. But, because her experience of the Metroid series is inextricably bound up in her experience of striking out on her own, Peace in Space is also a deeply personal album.

“It’s theoretically about Metroid,” Myers says. “But it’s also egotistically about me, about my life, about reevaluating it. Samus is the metaphor that I held onto during that process.”

During this pensive time in Myers’ life, she filled in the space left by Samus’ silence with a combination of Metroid “head canon”and her own feelings about living alone.

“If you spend too much time by yourself, you start to lose your mind,” Myers observes. “You have to go through patterns to remind yourself that you’re still alive.”

The songs in the Peace in Space EP each repeat these patterns in different ways. The opening number, “Varia” slowly builds from a contemplative mood to a determined one as Samus discovers the tools that the Chozo have left behind to help her complete her mission.

“It’s like going back to your old bedroom,” she says, “and finding something that you’re really touched by.”

“Varia” follows Samus as she suits up and defeats her enemies. She sings: “I’m getting stronger every second / And I’m going to survive / I’m gonna wade into liquid fire and come out alive.” “Varia,” Myers summarizes, is about Samus’ mission but it’s also about “finding and rebuilding yourself.”

The cover art for Peace in Space.

The cover of Peace in Space.

The second song, “Ridley’s Theme,” finds Myers breaking from traditional conceptualizations of Samus as a wounded woman who will never be able to overcome her childhood trauma.

“I wanted to make her human without making her irreperably damaged,” Myers explains. “I’ve always had a problem with the idea that Samus is extremely psychologically damaged from this trauma and she’ll never get over it. There’s probably a good way to write her tragedy, but maybe a woman should write it.”

“Ridley’s Theme” presents a strong, confident Samus unfazed by her past. The defiant tone of the song, Myers notes, is an intentional counterpoint to the sexist way in which most narrative media depict psychological trauma as an insurmountable obstacle for women. Metroid: Other M controversially indulged in this bad habit, presenting the player with a weaker, more vulnerable Samus. But Myers’ Samus is ready for Ridley.

“I knew you would find me,” she sings. “And now I will waste you.”

“Meditation,” the third and final song on the EP, is the heart of Peace in Space. The song features the lyric, “Everything is gonna be okay,” sung over and over again.

“This is the sort of thing that Samus would have to tell herself all the time,” Myers explains.

But “Meditation,” like “Ridley’s Theme” respectfully toes the line between self-doubt and complete breakdown. Samus gives voice to her fears (“What if I’m caught off guard, and I’m not prepared after all?”) but ultimately overcomes them in a quiet moment of self-assured triumph (“I am always my own hero”).

For Myers, “Meditation” is about accepting your weaknesses without losing sight of your strengths. The Samus of “Meditation” expresses trepidation but knows that she “actually has to do something in her moment of truth.” Samus, like Myers, finds a hero in herself during a difficult moment.

“In Super Metroid,” Myers recalls, “Samus is just investigating the situation independently. It’s all about her own journey. She’s doing it because she wants to know what’s going to happen. It’s her own life. And that really intrigues me: people doing things for their own benefit and thinking, ‘I’m worth it.’”

As a whole, Peace in Space serves as a brief but ambitious exploration of loneliness, determination and self-worth told through the lens of Super Metroid. Over the course of three songs, Myers constructs a compelling version of Samus: a solitary woman who intimately knows both her limits and her capabilities.

But Myers is not content with the songs in the EP alone. In the future, she would like to expand the project to include songs performed by other characters: Mother Brain, Ridley, perhaps even a baby Metroid. Although her dream of a stage play might be impossible to license, Myers still envisions a Metroid musical concept album in her future. Like Samus, she has some work left to do.

Peace in Space is available for download for $3 USD on Maddy Myers’ Bandcamp.

About Samantha Allen

Samantha Allen writes about gender, sexuality, and video games. She writes regularly for the feminist gaming blog The Border House. Her work has also appeared on Jacobin, Salon, Paste, Kotaku, Kinsey Confidential, and in Adult Magazine. Samantha also speaks on feminism, queerness, and games at conferences and conventions across North America. By day, Samantha is a fourth-year George W. Woodruff Fellow in the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Emory University writing a dissertation on sexual fetishism. You can find her on the web or on Twitter.
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