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Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard

Rising Like the Phoenix

Moxy Martinez doesn’t give two shits about the norm. She’s anti-box—actually anti-anti—a breath of fresh air when you need a thoughtful perspective, and the anger you need when you feel like everything’s hopeless.

She’s also DJ Moxy, and for the first time in a while, she’s getting her own shit together.

That’s no slight against Moxy in the least. In fact, she freely admits the struggle she’s gone through over the past few years, both creatively and emotionally; it’s made her who she is now. A transplant from Cincinnati, but a Columbus resident for 17 years now, Martinez has found her zone, her comfort area. Recently being the singular opening act for Cape Town native rap-rave group Die Antwoord’s Columbus tour stop, Martinez was able to see an updated version of her influence over the city, but it didn’t come without some grief.

“I was scared out of my f*cking mind,” she said, on an unseasonably warm autumn afternoon in Clintonville. “I’ve been scaling back my DJ sets to put more focus on my production, so when I got this [offer] I was so excited, and then all this anxiety set in. I’ve played for large crowds, but it’s been some time since playing a DJ set for a whole lot of people.”

When it came to preparation for the show, she deeply analyzed her presumed crowd by what Die Antwoord fans likely have bumping in their headphones. Knowing that could be literally anything, the challenge therein presented itself.

“I was really making sure that all the selections I curated not only represented me as an artist, but I needed to make sure I could connect with such a specialized crowd,” she explained, and then thought it’d be a good idea to go political. “I edited the actual Trump video from that terrible Access Hollywood interview and I used Billy Bush’s laugh as this like poking, annoying, you’re an asshole kind of thing with Trump’s ‘grab her by the p*ssy’ [quote] on top of that. Then, at the end I use Jennifer Lawrence saying ‘hey Trump, f*ck you.’”

“I woke up then next day thinking, ‘ah, I think I’m okay.’ Then I show up to the venue for soundcheck and I’m like, ‘God, I hope this introduction doesn’t get me booed off stage.’ And then I see inflatable dicks and I’m like, ‘I am so fine. I have absolutely nothing to worry about.’”

Moxy’s Die Antwoord set was a representation of who she is. Recently returning from a Kaytranada show in Chicago, the inspiration from someone nearly 20 years younger than her had Moxy’s set pushing every boundary, and it’s exactly what she was going for. Everything from eclectic EDM cuts to the most ratchet hip hop made its way into her 45-minute mix.

Live DJing is something she’s been straying away from recently. Earlier this year she released F*ck Noir, an EP testing the bounds of her creativity and addressing all of the emotions she’s had to keep bottled up internally over the past few years.

“I’m really proud of all the work I did on it. It was kind of an experiment of sorts,” she said. “I’m just now, over the past year, feeling confident enough to start unleashing all of this old work just so I can purge Moxy Martinez—purge the last six to seven years of just holding onto stuff, which is just a parable for life.”

Death also consumed a lot of Moxy’s energy and will be a major theme on her next work, which is rumored to be a debut solo album in 2017.

“Over the past three months I’ve lost a very close friend—two high school friends—and it really deeply, deeply affected me,” she said while beginning to shed a few tears. “Those first few days when you’re trying to sleep, and you have really good sleep and you wake up and there’s that split second where you’re like, ‘ah f*ck!’ It’s that grief sleep. It’s that sleep you have to just manage and to heal, and you just want to sleep forever because it hurts too much sometimes to wake up.”

“There may be a total scream track because when we go through grief and sadness in a life transition, sometimes it’s ugly as f*ck and it’s okay,” she continued. “And this whole new project is just telling myself it’s okay to feel how you feel now, and it’s ok to tell people no because you’re sad.”

Untitled and without a full concept, DJ Moxy’s future work will be under a new artist pseudonym. Just last year, after the adoption laws changed, she found out she has two middle names. An adopted child whose mother had her at age 16 and died at age 17, Martinez will be on a quest to continue to find herself. That journey will entail all types of sounds and expressions in her music.

Perhaps more importantly, it’ll be a rediscovery and a new chance for fans to comprehend the full DJ Moxy experience.

“It’s time for me to let Moxy Martinez take a nap for a while so this other person can come out,” she concludes. “I’m a lotus flower and this is what has happened, here I am. And now I’m rising like the phoenix.”

For music and more information on DJ Moxy visit moxy-music.com.

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