Music makes me happy and is a place to retreat when no one seems to understand—I just put on my headphones and escape.
Many people claim that music is their life, but few can live up to such words. New York’s Roxy Cottontail has earned the right to claim such a lofty statement. It goes back to her mother’s womb, as her mom was a school music teacher. Given said fact, it was only a matter of time until Roxy immersed herself in music, learning to play instruments and spending countless hours digging for influential tunes from the past and present.
Now an internationally established DJ, producer, MC, promoter, and all around music-driven creative, Roxy Cottontail is a trusted leader in all things fun and bumping. Whether she’s collaborating with first-class talent like Armand Van Helden, Drop the Lime, Party Squad or the fabled Larry Tee (check last year’s hit “Bounce Little Kitty”), or entertaining dancefloors around the world as a DJ, Roxy is constantly juggling a full schedule. With the launch of her record label “Bunnyjawn Records” coming this year in 2012, we don’t see her slowing down anytime soon. Somehow between it all, Roxy Cottontail took some time to fill us in on her history and explain how her world of music works. Read and learn.
Roxy Cottontail "Shameless NYE” (Live @ Tammany Hall NYC 2012)
Home Town: Columbia, Maryland.
Currently Living: New York, NY.
Origin Of Name: Roxy Cottontail began as the stage name for myself as the lead singer of my all-girl punk band “Fox Deluxe” in high school. It then became an avatar on message boards and the web. I have always loved bunnies for their maternal and mysterious nature. I’m also forever a fan of booty (Cottontail) too.
E-Slug: Twitter, Soundcloud.
Weapon Of Choice: My immaculate ears.
Est. Miles Traveled Per Year: This is hard, 25,000? No idea if that’s even close though.
Gigs Played/Nights Out Per Year: 150 gigs played, 200 nights promoted, 250 nights out.
Source Of Power: Music, fashion, art, sex, photography, nightlife, my amazing parents, my BFF at The Paloma, The Cottontails and my amazing team.
My name is Roxy Cottontail: DJ, producer, MC and promoter. I once described what I do as creating culture. I’ve been told recently that I single handedly created a genre in NYC. I’m humbled but also find it to be true.
Over the last nine years I’ve altered the landscape of underground music and created a scene in downtown New York City and beyond. I’ve brought all my favorite genres to town—from all over the world—via DJs and performers whom I love. I’ve been obsessed with music from a very young age. It’s one of my dearest friends. I’m blessed to have immaculate ears and thank my lucky stars—daily—that I have such a blessed, fun and incredible career in music and nightlife.
My relationship with music has always been a powerful one. I rely on music and sound to evoke emotion, inspire, energize, provoke and heal. I believe music is a powerful tool and helps me through the crazy mystery called “life.” Music makes me happy and is a place to retreat when no one seems to understand—I just put on my headphones and escape. Now, my escape has become my platform and career. I use music to make money, which is still a wild concept to me; I fight internally with the business of music often, for it is creating that I love…music is my life.
Can you walk us through your various musical phases? From early interest to actual creative output.
My relationship with music began before I was born—while I was forming in my mother’s womb. My mom was an elementary school music teacher—unaware of the profound impact her music classes would have on my life. Soon after birth, I began singing and emulating my favorites in pop music. Cyndi Lauper and Michael Jackson were two of them. I was teased endlessly by my father’s side of the family for looking more “Boy George” than Cyndi Lauper—I still have the nickname “George” because of my Cyndi Lauper obsession.
Music has always been everything to me; it’s also been the catalyst for my styles through fashion. What I hear is always translated through what I wear. My first concert was the Bangles in 1989. I began playing piano in elementary school, clarinet in middle school and soon heard Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Nirvana and Hole and began playing guitar. I quit clarinet soon after high school and the guitar became my salvation. My love of pop punk, rockabilly, swing and grunge began and I started getting into bands like Fugazi, Green Day, Nirvana, Babes in Toyland, Lollapalooza, L7, Royal Crown Revue. Discovering Riot Grrrl culture in D.C. was pivotal for me as a woman in music. I formed an all-girl punk band called “The Fox Deluxe” during my sophomore year of high school and my band mates and I discovered the Salvation Army and surrounding thrift stores of D.C. and Baltimore. My wardrobe was so adverse, my mother documented each of my outfits with a photo before I walked out of the house to school. I still have a book of pictures documenting those years.
My parents are a huge influence in my development as an artist. They have always promoted my creativity and never made me feel weird for being different…They didn’t always understand what I was listening to but they appreciated my interest in the arts.
The rave and techno scene was blossoming in Baltimore and D.C. while I was in high school. My ears were exposed to so many music styles growing up. My best friend Marni and I exchanged Frankie Knuckles and Diesel Boy mixtapes from famous parties in Baltimore (Fever) and D.C. (Buzz) all while I was listening to, and playing, pop punk.
My band broke up in ‘97 when I graduated and moved to NYC to attend Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. Around this time I dove into hip-hop and discovered Outkast, The Beatnuts, Wutang Clan, Capone-N-Noreaga, Biggie, Lauryn Hill, The Roots, The Firm and many more. I became roommates with Justine D during the prime of her infamous party “Motherfucker” and ended up becoming her sub-promoter. After Pratt, 9/11 devastated me and I moved to Philadelphia to secure a job designing jewelry. Due to my close relationship with Justine, she introduced me to Dave Pianka and his party “Making Time.” I made many friends within the Philly scene and was invited to attend Hollertronix, a legendary party created by Diplo and Low B. It was here where I heard Baltimore “club music” again; they mixed it with ‘80s, freestyle and a new hip-hop genre emerging from the south called “Crunk.” I was floored instantaneously and fell in love. I met Spankrock and Amanda Blank on the dancefloor, moved back to New York and started throwing my own parties, booking my new Philly friends and inviting people I met out or via Friendster, MySpace and The Holler Board (an infamous music geek message board; even Uffie wrote a dis song about it).
I met A-Ron the Downtown Don around this time and we started promoting weeklies and bigger monthly parties together. Soon after that I started DJing, first on vinyl then graduated to Serato in 2006. I was dared to go in the studio by Amanda Blank who had written some raps about me and suggested I spit them myself. I’ve become a vocalist and writer on some awesome house records: “Playmate” with Armand Van Helden (remixed by Jesse Rose), “Let’s Make Nasty (Bounce Little Kitty)” with Larry Tee (remixed by Afrojack) and “My Bad” with The Partysquad.
Roxy Cottontail “Live in Los Angeles” (12/13/11 at Dim Mak Studios)
What life activities are made better when listening to music? Talk about the last time you enjoyed one and the other.
A lot of things are made better by music. Most things are. Traveling and working out are by far my most favorite things to do while listening to music. Car stereos with quality sound always get me excited. I prefer surround sound always. I have speakers everywhere in my studio apartment—even in my bathroom and kitchen! I love to primp and get ready for hours on end and occasionally cook. Incredible speakers are made better by music, I always feel like I DJ better at Pacha in NYC due to the overwhelmingly incredible quality of sound, size and position of the speakers. It really gives me a sense of euphoria spinning there. I also love to workout to music—I test each mix I make by running to it. The last time I enjoyed music on this level was just the other day in Brooklyn when Chew Fu played me some of his beats he thought I would be good to get on. There is this one called “Dominator” sampled from a very old house song that just makes all your senses and chakras open up, it’s house, hip-hop and electro bass. It’s freaking crazy. I could listen to it all damn day. It speaks to me as a woman in a male dominated industry, makes me smile (mischievously) and want to plan wild parties and shows. I even want to use this beat for my intro to DJ sets now…unbelievable banger!
If you visualize music as your listen, what (generally) do you imagine?
I visualize music as events or scenarios…music tells a story for me.
If you could send advice via a fortune cookie to up-and-comers, it would read:
Do you and dominate!
I knew then I was going to forever be a fan of house music and nightlife. I had no idea music would be such a huge part of my career.
What is a song that inspired you to create?
I love these...
What (type) music makes you reach for the headphones? What (type) mood makes you reach for the headphones?
All music makes me reach for headphones, especially heavy-bass music. I usually reach for my SOL REPUBLIC headphones when I’m inspired, traveling, working out or upset. My SOL headphones are full of incredible magic; the sound quality and bass pumping factor is out of control. I’ve even gotten some friends addicted to them. My ears get high from my SOL headphones.
Tell me about your most memorable night out.
One of the most memorable and prolific nights for me, as a fan, was one of my first nights out in NYC in 1999 at mega-club Twilo while absorbing Basement Jaxx. It was right after their album Remedy came out. I knew then I was going to forever be a fan of house music and nightlife. I had no idea music would be such a huge part of my career.
As a DJ, the most incredible experience is hard to pin point—there are so many. I knew I was a great DJ when I played one random night in Columbus, Ohio at an awesome place called Skully’s. Not sure why this night sticks out so vividly to me? I just knew I had it and I knew I had to have it again and again after that night.
I also recall my first gig DJing overseas from mainland America to Hawaii for Roxy’s “50 Years of Women’s Competitive Surfing Celebration,” I took my fathers Beach Boys and Supremes vinyl records. My first time to Asia was insane too. I played Tokyo and kids were trying to climb in the booth to grab my stickers—and me. I remember thinking “Wow, I have insane fans!”
Tell us about a specific event or period in your life that is linked in your mind to a song/album.
There are so many albums I remember vividly but Mazzy Star’s So Tonight That I Might See and Portishead’s Dummy are forever linked to my first loves, and probably evoke the most emotion when I hear them.
Are there any dots to connect with where/how you grew up to your musical output?
My parents are a huge influence in my development as an artist. They have always promoted my creativity and never made me feel weird for being different. They are incredible parents. They didn’t always understand what I was listening to but they appreciated my interest in the arts. I was so rebellious at a young age there was really no other way to go about it…or I probably would have run away.
How does listening to music figure into your creative process?
When I write lyrics I need a poppin’ beat to do so. I’d say music helps my creative process significantly. Without it I’d be dull and lame.
What value do you place on environment as a creative springboard?
Any environment can jump start my creativity—a plane, train, studio, club. I come up with the craziest and funniest ideas on the dancefloor just out with my friends screaming at each other. In the studio I just need a warm room, a loud system and of course my SOL REPUBLIC headphones.
Talk about some of your “classic” memories of touring?
I have so many fond and classic memories of touring. The Rock the Bells tour in ’08 was incredible because of the amount of talent on both stages. Spankrock co-curated the 2nd stage and asked me to host it. We went to so many fun cities and the fans were just amazing. It was surreal to be on the lineup.
Going to Iceland for Iceland Airwaves was outlandish. I tried the delicacies of Iceland: rotten shark and smoked whale—probably the weirdest foods I’ve ever had and will never have again.
Touring with Jasmine Solano in November 2010 was incredible. We had a rental car, my merch bunny Rebecca, and traveled throughout the East Coast, Midwest and Canada—it was ridiculous. We got pulled over by a fake cop, named our GPS “Princess GPS” and I made Jasmine workout with me everyday.
Do you remember the first time you had a live audience’s complete attention?
The first audience I ever had was in Soho in 2005 where my club dad, Bugsy, gave me my first residency on Thursday nights in NYC. I had been practicing in his club during the day and he said I should start taking over the Thursday nights with a few other promoters. I agreed and felt ready to DJ out and began playing weekly for downtown NYC. I was beyond nervous playing for the first few weeks.
Soundtrack of Life:
My passions include design, drawing and working out. I think my ideal soundtrack varies a lot because I love to do so many things. I prefer to listen to melodic, reggae, R&B or punk—like Frank Ocean and The Specials when I design. When I workout I want to hear up-tempo songs by Jack Beats, Porter Robinson and Chuckie. My Soundtrack of Life is a balance of the opposite sides of my life. I’m an extremely sensitive bunny that loves to design and draw and listen to a lot of R&B and reggae when I do so, but I’m also outgoing and love punk and house music for dancing and working out.
Frank Ocean is the most prolific songwriter of our time. Swim Good is such a beautiful metaphor for life.
The song Nite Klub by the Specials is pretty much a summary of my life so far.
Such a classic reggae song—the lyrics and riddim just make me want to grind and do bad things. Sean Paul also used this beat for Like Glue too.
As for Chuckie’s What Happens in Vegas—this bassline is just ridiculous and so is the topic.
I prefer working out to electro and house; I love Porter Robinson’s song Say My Name this song is so hype to run too.