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L.A. By Night Celebrity Playlist: Annabelle by Erika Ishii
Vampire: The Masquerade: L.A. By NightVampire: The Masquerade: L.A. By Night

L.A. By Night Celebrity Playlist: Annabelle by Erika Ishii

On our Vampire: The Masquerade RPG show, L.A. By Night, we get to watch a coterie of players roleplaying as vampires using the fifth edition rules of Vampire: The Masquerade RPG. Erika Ishii plays the Clan Bruja vampire Annabelle on the show. She’s compiled a playlist that encapsulates the character and provided insight to each song on the playlist below.

From Erika:

I always say that music is the language of my heart. It’s also a key component of how I find and get into my characters. In this case, playlists were important enough to even play a part in Annabelle’s story. Here are songs that say something about Annabelle or that I’d listen to just before we went live to anchor me in her headspace.

Will I Find My Home (Acoustic) – Through Juniper Vale & Vian Izak
Before Annabelle even had a name, I created a playlist with just this single song on it. The concept of “Home” is at the core of Annabelle’s identity. Every move she makes is to provide herself and others an opportunity to find safety, comfort, and love. Through Juniper Vale is a multimedia project that explores the concept of home and belonging through comics, music, and stories. Vocalist and co-writer Sarah Jane said this song came from the idea of looking for “Home” in others. That really struck a chord with me and I wanted to make a character that resonated with. For Annabelle, Home is in the people she loves and the causes she fights for. This is “her song” with Ellenore as referenced in the first episode.

For What It’s Worth- Buffalo Springfield

I tried to instill Annabelle and her activist group with the spirit of the 1960s student protest movements. College campuses were hotbeds of political activity and student committees were instrumental in driving or supporting many great causes: anti-war, civil rights, women’s liberation, freedom of speech. “For What It’s Worth” is a classic protest song from the era. Stephen Stills was inspired to write it when he saw a group of young music fans protesting in Hollywood, in what would later be called the Sunset Strip curfew riots. A little over 50 years later, Annabelle and her groups would be rallying in the same place.

The Night That Goldman Spoke in Union Square- Ragtime, Original Broadway Cast

This fiery number is from Ragtime, one of my favorite musicals and a story that feels, perhaps unfortunately, very relevant today. In this song, a brave woman calls for an end to the exploitation of the poor, the fire of revolution is lit in the heart of a young man in search of purpose, and an immigrant nearly has his only child ripped away from him. Annabelle seeks justice for the downtrodden. She detests the idea of using violence against people, but just before her Embrace she was starting to see the lengths to which she’d go to enact positive change. She fell in love with Marc because she saw the same fire of rebellion in him. I imagine one or both of them standing on a table, fist in the air, screaming for justice and riling up a crowd.

Till Your Heart is Still- Vian Izak

One of my favorites from one of my absolute favorite bands. To me, this is about asking someone to always love you, just the way you are, no matter what. And saying you’ll love them in return. “Till your heart is still.” But Annabelle doesn’t have a beating heart anymore. And forever is a long time for an immortal. What happens after?

Shut Up and Dance With Me- Walk the Moon

This song is about getting out of your head and just living life. Annabelle didn’t usually have time for dancing between school, work, volunteering, and her “secret meetings”. I like to imagine her studying at the kitchen table, when Ellenore turns this song up, grabs her by the hand, and pulls her to her feet to dance. Surviving is important but it’s important to remember how to live.

Moonlight Densetsu

The Sailor Moon opening from the 90s American run was a superhero theme song: “Fighting evil by moonlight. Winning love by daylight.” That fits Annabelle, who joined the ranks of schoolgirls like Sailor Moon, Kim Possible and Buffy the Vampire Slayer that fulfill their destiny by night and still desperately try to lead normal daytime lives of classes, flirting, and friends.

However, I included a version of the Japanese opening, which I was equally familiar with growing up. This version is a plaintive love song titled, roughly, “Moonlight Legend” about missing someone you love. I think it speaks to Annabelle’s poor heart. This is a translation of some of the verses (full translation found here) that I felt best captured the original words and spirit.

I’m sorry, I’m not honest

I can say it in my dreams

My thoughts are about to short circuit

I want to be with you right now

The moonlight makes me want to cry

I can’t even call (because) it’s midnight

But I’m so naive, what should I do

My heart’s a kaleidoscope

Just one more weekend together

God, please give us a happy ending

In the present, past, and future

I’ll always be in love with you

Price- Koethe

A song about sacrificing anything to be there for the one you love. From singer-songwriter Koethe’s tribute album to the game Life is Strange. It’s told from the perspective of protagonist Maxine Caulfield to her childhood best friend and romantic interest Chloe Price. I was initially worried about playing a queer character in a game that can be tragic and violent, as I strongly feel we need more normalized happy LGBTQ+ representation in media. After much discussion with friends and master storyteller Jason Carl, I decided normalizing representation and presenting a character true to the way I saw her was more important. And I trusted Jason as a storyteller. We just had to hope I rolled well.

I’ll Be Good- Jaymes Young

This is the harm Annabelle has done to others and her promises to be better. One question she struggled with in life was, “How do we remain good people in an unreasonable time?” Now she has to figure that out with even more dire consequences. How can she make the world better for everyone? And right now the being near someone she loves will only put them in danger and hurt them. So she tells herself every night when she wakes up, “I’ll be good, I’ll be good.”

Unforgettable- Natalie Cole & Nat King Cole

Marcus and Annabelle’s song. “Ellenore is sunshine. Marcus is fire.” Marcus’ passion inspires Annabelle. He’s a warrior and an intellectual; jazz somehow seemed appropriate for him. It was interesting seeing the evolution of his character and their relationship, collaborating with B. Dave about what we each knew about Victor’s son and Annabelle’s boyfriend.

The Trapeze Swinger- Iron & Wine

Every verse begins “Please, remember me…” It’s someone who has died asking their lover to remember them through all their times together. Regret, fond warmth, longing, inside jokes, all mixed together. The memory of little moments you spend with someone are the most precious treasures you have when they’re gone. I cry every time I hear this song.

Los Angeles, I’m Yours- The Decemberists

An ode to LA By Night. The Los Angeles landscape is as much a character in our chronicle as any of the players. The exciting, seedy, beautiful, dangerous city of angels. I was actually born and raised in Los Angeles and the surrounding suburbs, so Jason’s wonderful descriptions call to mind exactly the feel of wherever the coterie is in the city. I always say what I love best about Los Angeles is that everyone is here with a dream. It’s true of the Kindred in the city as well.

My Type- Saint Motel

A tribute to Annabelle’s (always consenting) prey.

“You-you-you’re just my type
Oh, you got a pulse and you are breathing.”

What song do you associate with Annabell? Tell us in the comments. L.A. By Night will be airing its finale on Twitch and Alpha this Friday at 8PM Pacific, so be sure to tune in then! 

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