Last weekend Columbia Records launched a new imprint into the music space that aims to capitalize on an underrepresented industry that is growing each and every day...video games. Titled "Lost Rings," the label is made up of three female artists whose passion for gaming is on-par with their love of music. Adriana "BunnyMightGameU" Quezada, Gabriella "BlackKrystel" Jackman and Aziah "Sunzi" Isaac each created a music video for their debut singles that launched this past Friday.
A&R for Lost Rings, Tebs Maqubela, sees the potential of this product as well as the unique talent each performer has within.
“The exciting part of Lost Rings is being able to be a vessel through which gamers release the music they want to make. It’s not surprising that the gamer community uses music in such a natural way; for example creating different playlists for games, exploring genres related to their cosplay, and more. Lost Rings helps with resources, such as studio structure, and exposure. Our artists BunnyMightGameU, Sunzi and BlackKrystel already have deeply engaged audiences, strong personalities, creative vision and have developed a space and world around themselves. We are just adding fuel to a pre-existing fire. We are really excited to support our artists.”
Aziah "Sunzi" Isaac fuses gaming tropes with modern hip-hop stylings in "Joystick".
Aiming for inclusivity
For Quezada, whose single "Game U" has begun gaining traction in the gaming industry, this process has not only been about honing her craft but letting the world know who she is.
"I think the Lost Rings experience thus far has been really rewarding. For the first time in my life, I feel like I belong somewhere. What Lost Rings is doing is marrying the relationship between gaming and music."
A native New Yorker, one of her earliest and move profound gaming moments came with members of her family in a nearby arcade where she experienced an activity that she is now trying to advocate against.
When Quezada was a child she attempted to play Frogger on an arcade machine and hecklers nearby told her that she wasn't allowed to play for one reason or another. That concept, known as "gatekeeping" is common in the gaming industry and can deter many from expressing themselves or doing what they enjoy. After her cousins fought for her to gain access to the machine, Quezada has made it one of her missions in life to spread awareness that gaming is indeed for everyone.
"People say things like 'Oh, you don't play fighting games as well as the rest of us' or 'You don't play looter-shooters as well as the rest of us.' Sometimes you don't feel like you measure up, especially as a girl of color."
Adriana "BunnyMightGameU" Quezada is unsettling yet mesmerizing in her video for "Game U"
Recently, Quezada performed at the BET Awards and not only wants to use her platform to create a healthier gaming environment for all, including her daughter who shares the passion as well, but finally being able to express who she really is.
Coming in the near future is a project she has been working on with the Overwatch League.
"NYXL [New York Excelsior] issued a request for me to make their team-song and anthem that they're going to walk out to at tournaments. Pretty soon you're going to listen to a song called 'New York drip' introducing them to the world and this team that I have fallen in love with."
"Everybody has a little geek inside them..."
Jackman's introduction to the gaming industry came from a lot of tough love and butt-whoopings from her aunt on the original PlayStation back in the 1990s. As her interest turned into a passion, Kingdom Hearts was released that, for her, took her love for gaming to another level.
"I have early fond memories playing Kingdom Hearts as that is my favorite game series of all -ime. I remember turning the game on for the first time, hearing 'Dearly Beloved' play during the title sequence and I started bawling. I wasn't sure why as I hadn't even played the game yet."
When she was contacted for this project, this former acapella singer, was apprehensive but excited for the opportunity.
"Lost Rings is really cool because when they approached me with the project they were like 'Yeah, we really want you to make it you. You want you to be you. We want you to be your nerd-self and we don't want you to hold back. Whatever it is we're going to figure it out."
Gabriella "BlackKrystel" Jackman puts a flirty spin on the phrase Party Up
During the shoot for her music video and single, "Party Up", Jackman was able to bond with individuals on set who were completely new to the genre. Not only did she attempt to introduce them to her world but open their eyes to a world filled with stereotypes.
"I want to be able to make this music to show everybody that everybody could be a geek. It's not just 'one person' or 'us,' it's everyone. Everyone has a little bit of geek inside them so I want them to be able to show it."
Not only is her mentality directed at an older generation who may not have experienced a world where it was okay to be a nerd but for a younger generation as well.
"This isn't fake and it isn't manufactured. These are real girls with real passions. We want to make music that everyone can resonate with. It is great to be given the opportunity and to bring that message to younger girls and empower them as I wish I had that a lot myself going up."
To learn more about Lost Rings, their website can be found here.