Roxiny Talks "9 Months", 'Rituals', & Fashion as an Art Form
Roxiny wears her heart on her sleeve—or rather, on her sleeveless denim vest. It’s covered and trinkets and memorabilia, and each represents a special moment or milestone. Unsurprisingly, the Dominican-born artist addresses her music in a similar fashion: open-hearted, personal, and just about as intimate as they come, her debut solo single “9 Months” proves a perfect example of her preferred practice.
“9 Months” is lyrically intense—some might even say dark, or at least moody—but sonically, it’s got a punchy beat that keeps your head bobbing long after the track comes to an end. And if it’s any clue as to what’s coming next from Roxiny, we’re in for a serious treat. Her upcoming EP, titled Rituals, is on its way; while you wait, check our JamRoom interview with the budding artist, plus her “9 Months” single, below.
As an artist, what role do you feel like your personal style plays in your overall “brand”?
I mean I think I am such a visual person, in addition to being, you know music being the way I express myself, I definitely feel like anything that has to do with visual or just style. Fashion is very much an art form and I feel like that all comes together. I cut a lot of things, I take friends’ shirts and just cut them up and make them into my own thing. In fact, when I’m writing music sometimes if I get locked up I end up making a fucking collage—just something that takes me out of that creative space, and into another. I go to a very visual place and I think usually when I’m happy with a song, I can almost see the visual part of it in my head. the words start to come to life in my head.
Can you talk to me about “9 Months” and since it just dropped recently—what has the reception been like so far?
Honestly, I think it’s been amazing. “9 Months” was a very selfish process for me. I think for the first time, in my whole body of music that constitutes the EP Rituals, I just stopped wanting other people’s opinions or caring about other people’s opinions and I just really went inside and wanted to make myself happy with everything I did. I really wanted to be able to stand by it 100 percent, so it became a very intimate and selfish experience and I think that sounds crazy to say but, I feel like sometimes when an artist cares too much about what everybody else thinks, it just fucks up their process. You know? So I kind of went into it that way, and put it out into the world and have had everybody really positively receptive to it. It’s been kind of an amazing experience. I didn’t really expect anything from it—I went into it doing it for myself and I remember actually talking to friends even before it came out and just saying, you know, whether people like it or not I fucking love it. I’m happy, and that’s the most important thing about this for me right now. But the fact that it is coming across and people are getting something out of it and being inspired by it, obviously that makes it even better.
I feel like being satisfied personally is like what you’re going for first, and then everyone else’s support is like the cherry on top.
And I feel like also about “9 Months”, it started off as something very intimate to me and a song I had to to get out in order to deal with something that happened in my life, but it started to become bigger than me as I started to connect and other people starting hearing it. I realized that it was really about just, I’m gonna say women but anybody who has been through a toxic or abusive relationship on their own, you know, so it wasn’t so much about me anymore. And I guess at some point as an artist you realize, yes, it could be a selfish process, but this is gonna touch other people and this is gonna affect other people, and it is affecting other people, so when you let your baby out into this world and people love it, fucking rock on.
Yeah, it takes on a life of its own.
It’s no longer mine. And so however it affects others, it’s a beautiful thing and I’m really excited about that. And yeah, I feel like it has a message bigger than the one that’s initially coming across.
And as far as the whole EP, what kind of head space where you in while you were making it? Like, how were you feeling emotionally and mentally?
I was digging into places that I had never had the courage to dig in before. I was going to places that I had filed away ’cause I couldn’t deal with it, I could talk about, and I didn’t know how to honor them lyrically, and I finally went into those places. I am very happy about that because it was this whole like a cathartic experience for me. From “9 Months” to every other song, I mean it’s just things that I just didn’t know if it ever is. I knew I wanted to talk about them at some point or sign about them but I couldn’t, and it’s like suddenly like my music became my therapy in many ways and kind of work through a lot of these things for me.
Do you feel like it’s a sense of relief when you finally put it all on paper and then take it to the studio?
I mean I don’t have any kids so I feel really weird saying this to mothers, they’re probably like, “Fuck you it’s not like having a baby, you have no idea,” but to me, it felt like having a baby of sorts. I felt a release, you know? I was able to get this through and you know just see it on the other side now.
When is it gonna drop?
We are scheduling for early 2018 it’s gonna be a while. We’re planning to release a few more songs, just feel it out as we go. “9 Months” is the main one, and the video for “9 Months” will come out in September so I’m very excited about that, too.
Is there any song on the EP, besides “9 Months” obviously, that’s particularly close to your heart?
I mean they all have a really strong emotional impact, but I think “The Lights”—it’s a song I wrote about, essentially, when the bombs went off on 23rd street, a couple months back. It was this feeling of just wanting to protect everyone I knew, and feeling really overwhelmed about everything that’s going on, just general tension in the air and just understanding that being a New York kid—we are here in this beautiful bubble, it’s so diverse, you walk down the street and you hear all these different languages and you see people from all over the world—but it’s not like this everywhere else. And then to have that bubble infiltrated or hurt or affected, it did something to me that day, and fortunately, obviously, no one was hurt. So that’s what brought about “The Lights”. “Neo” is another one, it’s about a friend of mine who was dealing with addiction and kind of my addiction to helping him deal with his addiction, and just kind of that relationship that went on because of that. So they all are very personal, you know? Then there is “Goliath” about my dude, which is like my happy song, my love song.
What is it like when people take your song and fall in love with it or kind of have a different interpretation? When it becomes “their song”, you know?
Oh I love it, I actually love that. I love the fact that these things you create on your own can grow and become somebody else’s, and really do something or have an emotional connection for somebody else. I think that’s awesome.
I know the back of your jacket is about TV On The Radio and your work with them?
Yeah, so, the movie Rubble Kings came out last year or summer of last year and—side note, it’s a fucking dope film, you gotta Netflix and chill to this one [Laughs]—it’s basically about gangs in New York, and the beginning of hip hop, and how they basically took it upon themselves to really kind of turn their story into something positive. And the seeds of hip hop were kind of planted from that situation. So the movie had a soundtrack that kind of ran beside it and it was all hip hop guys, I was the only girl on this whole compilation, so it was kind of cool.
And intimidating, maybe.
Yeah, absolutely. It was RTJ, Killer Mike did a track on its own, Ghostface, you know, and then Tunde and I teamed up and did “Phoenix”, which is a song about just being able take something and turn it around. It really had to do with how the movie affected you. And Little Shalimar was a producer, he was kind of the overseer of all of it.
I would also love to hear about your work with GEMS. Do you feel like your role there ever influences your art as well?
So I started working with GEMS about a year and half, maybe two years ago. I do a music workshop with the girls. Honestly, it’s one of the most powerful things that I’ve ever done. You know, you go into things like, “I’m gonna be a good samaritan and do this or that” and then I walked out having a more powerful experience from what I was learning from the girls. They have taught me so much. And it’s kind of incredible to walk into a room—it’s usually never the same girls, because GEMS is a sort-of safehouse, and there’s no judgement or pressure to stay, there’s only positive reinforcement—and they set up the program so it really encourages girls to continue to participate and eventually be able to hopefully be there full time or turn things around. Everything takes time and there’s many layers to it. So I do this monthly songwriting workshop, and they’re fucking blowing my mind. Oh my God. The things that come out are incredible. It’s been an amazing experience. I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve gotten a lot and I think I’ve become a much richer person because of it.
I think that always happens—you go in to help people but you come out the one who benefits so much.
It’s crazy. I literally walk out walking on air every single time. I’m just in love with them, really. I love being there, sometimes it can be challenging, you don’t know what you’re walking into, you don’t know what any of the girls have been through, and I’m there to help them have a positive experience, for an hour. To be able to learn how to express themselves and channel whatever they’re going through in a way that’s positive.
So what are you up to for the rest of the year? I’m sure it’s mostly EP stuff.
Yeah! Well last night was my first show, so I was really excited about that.
Amazing. Where was it?
It was kind of like this little private event at the Soho House in Meatpacking. Friends and family and now I feel like I lost my stage virginity and now I’m ready to go. I was like, “I’ve been in a cave for the last year and finally my music gets on a stage.” [Laughs] But that’s definitely one of my favorites parts, you know, performing. So I’m really excited about getting back on stage, doing that as much as possible, and then I’m going back in the studio for the next two weeks again just to continue writing. So I’ll probably have another EP by the end of the summer [Laughs] It just doesn’t stop. I take a little break every once in awhile, because after you flush a lot of feelings out, you just have to stop for a little bit. And then I feel like enough happens that I can come back in and write more. So that’s that, and then along with “9 Months” we’re actually working on this nine month campaign to raise awareness about violence against women. We’re gonna have this Instagram campaign, “What makes you rise?” and then whatever that is, whether it’s music or whatever, however you interpret that, we’re having people post, tag me, tag three other friends, hashtag #GirlsRisingCampaign, and at the end of it, we’re gonna choose one girl and she’s gonna get some badass jewelry.
Stay tuned to Milk for more from the alt pop landscape.