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Kara Komarnitsky, Ohio State third-year, Dance, minors in Environmental Science and Business
Dec 12, 2020
In June 2020, DJ and musician Moxy Martinez shared his playful approach to synthesizers with audiences of the Wexner Center for the Arts in a livestream. Throughout the show, Moxy reminded us that you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to use synthesizers. “You just have to appreciate sound,” he told me in a Zoom interview in late October. “You just have to appreciate making something that no one else in the world has made. And you may not make it again. It’s just having the excitement of just, experimentation.”
Moxy credits a lot of his current successes to being open to the experience, learning something new, and, what he calls, pushing through your own BS. One triumph is Moxy’s collaboration with Anthony Rowe to create the band Goddess Duo. Their first album, GODDESS, was created in a week, during a spontaneous trip to a cabin where they could work in isolation. They had only collaborated once before and very briefly, so in many ways this process was a risk that they took with each other, not knowing the outcome, and being open to whatever happened. The result is 11 tracks of ambient, otherworldy sounds that will send you into a trance for the entire duration.
Wex audiences saw Moxy again when the Wex hosted Beverly Glenn Copeland, renowned singer and songwriter, and I learned that they share the practice of Nichiren Daishonen Buddhism. When Moxy and I talked, he emphasized many of the same ideas that Glenn had shared with us about finding the joy in the struggle and trusting the power that is within us. “Not everything is going to be perfect all the time,” Moxy told me, “And that’s okay… And it’s accepting that it’s okay. And being able to use that mindset, when I play a DJ set, or when I create work on my synthesizers, I’m just doing the best I can with what I have. And creating as much positive value as I can with what that is.” When confronted with challenges, Moxy comes back to the idea that “it’s always within, it’s never without” to ground himself in his own inner power and find a positive way forward with what he has. This speaks to a personal resilience that has allowed Moxy to weather new challenges and continue creating music that speaks to the soul.
At the same time, Moxy reminded me that progress through struggle often requires gentleness toward ourselves. With the start of quarantine, Moxy, like everyone, found himself struggling to maintain his creative practice, often glancing at his synthesizers and never quite coming back to them. “It’s OK to not feel inspired because you can’t be in the same room physically with all the people you work and get inspired with,” he said. “You just have to be gentle with yourself and understand that this won’t last forever.” Even just doing a little bit of something each day can be hard but that’s okay, it counts, it’s something. He described his current practice as like walking on a treadmill, keeping him active and committed to his craft, even if it’s just a little bit at a time.
Gentleness was a key part of the process of creating Osea Merdis, an album that reflects on Moxy’s origins and helped him process the grief of losing a close friend. The title comes from the name of his birth mother, Ocea, and one of the names given on his original birth certificate, Merdis, both of which were unknown to Moxy until shortly before the creation of Osea Merdis. This title reclaims those names and their origins while honoring past trauma. Moxy described the Osea Merdis project as “honoring my own grief, honoring the woman who gave me life and gave me this gift… it’s definitely a project that required gentleness and discretion… and letting my heart speak.”
The album is filled with waves of soft sounds and layers of rhythms that penetrate deep into the sense of past and present. It embodies a balance of heaviness and gentleness that are both part of processing grief.
My conversation with Moxy revealed that while there are many parts to his process, everything is connected to everything else. It’s all about putting out the right intention and balancing grief with gentleness, risk with resilience, and struggle with joy.
More of Moxy’s music can be found on Bandcamp here and Soundcloud here.
This selection is part of Writing about the Performing Arts at Ohio State, an interdisciplinary student-led seminar during the 2020-21 academic year. With guidance from Department of Dance Professor Karen Eliot and the Wexner Center’s Alana Ryder (Manager, Public and University Programs) and Lane Czaplinski (Director of Performing Arts), students with backgrounds in dance, economics, math, microbiology, political science, psychology, statistics, and beyond will serve as ambassadors and advocates for the arts. As a cohort, they will approach broad theoretical and philosophical issues behind contemporary performance as well as questions about the roles of arts critics and of arts criticism, especially in the era of COVID-19 and racial equity and social justice movements.
For more information, please email email@example.com. Additional interviews and student writing will be presented here later in the academic year.
Moxy Martinez photo: Kate Sweeney
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