Keep your eye on Roxiny, the Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter who is forging a path for strong female musicians with her music and intersecting activism. Her recent single “9 Months” was written following an abusive relationship. The pain of her experience inspired her to start the #9monthsgirlrising campaign in conjunction with the single in order to raise awareness about the many forms of violence—physical, sexual and emotional—perpetrated against women every day. We spoke with the musical powerhouse about her charity work, upcoming EP “Rituals,” and the women who inspire her. See our conversation with her, as well as her new music video for “THE LIGHTS,” below!
I think I must have transitioned right from crying into singing. I just don’t remember ever wanting anything more than to sing, write and perform. I guess there was a point when I decided this was all I was going to do. No plan B. This was it, and I remember meeting so many people I respected along the way who really encouraged my tunnel vision. so yeah. I’m rocking with it. Still have so many stories to tell.
Where do I start? Here’s a short version of what could become an epic novel of influences: Tina Turner, Suicide, Bauhaus, Fever Ray, Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Nina Simone, Patti Smith, Stevie Nicks. Hole, L7, Bjork, Chavela Vargas, Mina, Melida Rodriguez…this could take a while. Honestly it’s the badass, defiant ones I love. Mostly because they had to break the rules in order to open the doors for girls like me. Mina, for example, was banned on Italian radio in the 60s for the way she expressed herself about sex and religion.
Your song, “9 Months,” was borne out of an abusive relationship. Can you tell us more about the inspiration for and process behind the song?
I had to take my time with “9 Months” mostly because I had to process my experience before I could honor it. For a long time, I kept on trying to normalize his psychological manipulation by thinking, let’s see—he never actually struck me, nor did he sexually assault me. So I kept minimizing his actions, justifying those 9 months, and trying to ignore the effect it had on me. It definitely took a long time get to a place where I felt I could write about it. Once I got it out, I was finally able to close that chapter, and the song took a life of its own. It’s no longer mine.
What advice can you give women who find themselves in a similar situation?
Trust your instincts. Abusive people can be tremendously charming in the beginning so it can be difficult, but just pay attention. They are usually weak and broken, so they try to feel more powerful by breaking you down. Walking away doesn’t make you a failure, it makes you a survivor.
In conjunction with “9 Months,” you started the #9monthsgirlrising campaign to raise awareness about violence against women. Can you tell us more about this initiative?
I started the campaign at the beginning of the summer to help raise awareness about violence against women and girls in all its forms. I decided I wanted to give 100% of all the proceeds from my “9 Months” song sales to organizations that support and empower women and girls. It just made sense to use this song to speak out about something I feel this strongly about. For those who would rather donate directly I’ve listed the organizations’ donation links on my website. The campaign culminates on March 8th, 2018 (International Women’s Day), when we’ll have a final fundraising event in New York City. So far I’ve also performed at fundraisers for Planned Parenthood and G.E.M.S. (Girls Education and Mentoring Services). I’m encouraging women and girls to share their stories with the hashtag #9MonthsGirlsRising. Our stories are important. They’ve been kept secret for too long, and when you start to hear staggering statistics like 1 out of every 3 women has experienced physical or sexual abuse worldwide, you realize how important this moment is for all of us.
What are some of your favorite organizations that empower and support women?
GEMS definitely has a special place in my heart. I work with the girls directly so I have a personal connection with them. Rachel Lloyd, the founder, has created a space of growth, acceptance, empowerment and positive reinforcement. They’re the only organization in New York state that empowers girls who have experienced domestic sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. I’m also supporting eight other amazing ones for the duration of the #9MonthsGirlsRising campaign: RAINN, Planned Parenthood, Casa de Esperanza, NNEDV, Equality Now, Incite!, Girl Up United Nations Foundation, and the U.N. Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women.
What can we expect from your upcoming EP “Rituals?”
All of my secrets. I’m releasing “Rituals” in 2 parts…I guess I had a lot to say. I finally got to collaborate with some of my favorite people—Chris Coady (Santigold, Zola Jesus, Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Sheare, and Jonathan Kreinik whose worked with Run the Jewels and Jim Jarmusch. These guys are not only friends, but immensely talented and they got where I was trying to go innately. You know, I was working through some pretty intense moments with some of these songs. It could’ve easily gotten really heavy. Instead it felt cathartic. With Chris for example, we recorded at Sunset Sound in L.A., home of Led Zepplin and Prince. The energy in there is indescribable. Chris would leave me in the room with a drum beat and synth loop, and walk away to give me space. I wrote most of Rituals by performing the songs as if I was on stage free styling and working it out as I went along. It felt like absolute freedom. Jonathan was the finisher. I came to his studio in Brooklyn with these demos Chris, Sheare and I had put together, and he finished defining the sound. I wanted a certain style of guitars, and he got it immediately. Everything I expressed musically, he made ten times better. I just trusted his instincts. I feel like we were all creating on the same wavelength without letting ego get in the way.
Can you name some women who inspire you and your work?
Many of them I already mentioned. Right now I’m super inspired by all of these women who had the courage to put themselves out there, risking their careers and putting their lives under a microscope to tell their stories. Particularly the ones who spoke up about Trump. I really believe those women are the ones responsible for opening the floodgates. Everything that followed is a powerful reaction to electing a sexual predator by all of us who are done being assaulted, demeaned, and humiliated with no repercussions in site. The message rang through loud and clear- if you have a pussy, you just don’t matter as much, your power is an illusion. But this time, we’re not standing for it. We’ve come too far and there are just too many of us to ignore.
What can we look forward to from you in 2018?
In March I’m releasing part one of “Rituals,” so I’ll be on the road a lot more, which I love. I’m also looking forward to working my music into some cool TV projects throughout the year. Generally just excited to share more music and collaborate with creatives I love. I have a few more videos coming soon. One of which I directed (my first) with Rebeca Diaz, and a second which Shan Nicholson of Rubble Kings is directing. That song is about him so I wouldn’t have it any other way.