Q&A with Roxy Coss: Seeking a Unique Voice

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Roxy Coss’ new album, The Future Is Female, was inspired by the 2016 presidential elections.

(Photo: Desmond White)

How do you find the balance between the compositions and the improvisations?

When I compose, sometimes I will hear a specific instrument for a certain part, or sometimes I will want one of the member’s specific personalities for a part. But I always want to make sure each member is contributing to the group sound. I want to make room for everybody to be part of the dialogue and the conversation, for each voice to be expressed.

Do you have a favorite tune on the album?
Every tune for me is like a different friend. They all give me a different way to express myself. It’s always a great surprise to hear them come together in the finished product.

Where do you find inspiration?
Listening to music and from everyday life encounters; noticing something frustrating or seeing someone do something inspirational.

I’ll find a theme evolving when there’s something I’m focusing on in my life—relationships, setting boundaries, or women not getting paid as much as men. I think people can relate to these stories, expressed through the music, when they hear you perform. I like to give the audience an introduction with some background and context when I play a tune. A lot of people aren’t familiar with jazz, especially instrumental jazz, so I think it can help them to understand the emotional content of the music, if they know where I’m coming from as a composer.

What has been your biggest challenge as an artist and composer?
That’s a big question. The biggest challenge is to get out of my own way. Any limits are internal; you can do as much as you can imagine doing and as much as you allow yourself to do. DB

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