To attend a vox performance is an experience that's as close to seeing an angel as is possible in this lifetime. She always appears in all white, with a sheer veil shrouding her body and often the stage as well. At her show at the Standard this week, you’ll probably find fans emulating her with their own holy outfits.
The vox moniker (always lower case) draws from the Latin word for voice, and is pronounced "wokes" — apt for a project that relies heavily on a cappella and looping.
The idea for the name came from her first tattoo, which reads across her fingers: "vox et praeterea nihil," or “a voice and nothing else.” She got inked years prior to her rebirth as vox and is thankful she did, as she believes she never would have found a moniker so fitting.
Her I Was Born EP from last year provided the first glimpse at her spiritual relationship with music, capitalizing on stripped-down vocals and conscious production. Recently, she has released covers of Kanye West and Frank Ocean that exhibit her minimalist style.
vox's sister introduced her to hip-hop when they were growing up in Minnesota; some of her biggest influences include Atmosphere and the Doomtree collective. According to her, these artists were different from other early-aughts radio fodder because “they talk about things that matter.”
Words are important to vox. Her lyrics are deliberate and specific while retaining ambiguity. “My introduction to songwriting was by writing poetry. Hip-hop is all about the lyrics, so when you find someone who basically writes poetry, it’s really inspiring.”
Her greatest inspiration in that regard is Kendrick Lamar. Her cover of “i” from To Pimp a Butterfly earned viral fame when it was released two years ago, and she still performs it regularly.
The Ocean and West covers are brand-new, though they've been in the works for years — basically since vox fell in love with the songs when they were first released. She hopes that her renditions may shed new light on them, too.
“I would never say I’d done them better than the originals,” vox tells me, “but by slowing them down, people can really hear the lyrics, sometimes for the first time. You really get to appreciate them, which is what I wanted.”
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Thematically, “Swim Good” feels like an extension of her EP. “It has all this imagery of water and death. I’ve been exploring that on I Was Born — how hard it is to change the path that you’re on and try to become a different person.”
The same malleable context applies to her cover of “Runaway,” though the timing wasn’t ideal. She began setting up its release before West returned to promote his newest LP, ye, and she summarily condemns his revisionist comments.
“He’s ignorant,” she says, while also adding, “I’ve always separated the art from the artist. Art doesn’t come from the person who made it; I believe art comes from somewhere outside of you.”
vox performs at the Standard in West Hollywood on Wednesday, July 25, as part of the Desert Nights series; more info.