As vōx takes the stage at Village Underground, she’s draped in red. Layered tulle gathers across the singer’s arms and fall over her slip dress like a robe. A matching veil floats above, a wire extending her headpiece like a personal halo. Slits above her waist trail down each side of the dress, her legs cutting through the billowing clouds of red.
But when vōx calls me, she’s grounded, wearing her usual day clothes at the end of a busy week. She’s in London, where she will debut her new live show in a few days time. At the heart of both her show and her new wardrobe is her forthcoming EP, I Am Not a God – a project that sees vōx dive deeper into her past through her electro-pop ballads.
vōx was born and raised in northern Minnesota where there was little to do. Far from the touring circuit, she was left to her own devices when it came to making and performing music. She sang in church first, then cycled through vocal coaches in high school and university as she struggled to find a voice with which she could articulate what she wanted to say. “I think because I had so much anxiety, I struggled with vocal technique… it wasn’t until my mid-20s that I really started liking the way my voice sounded.”
Now when she sings, vōx’s voice is textured, bending from low, commanding growls to a high and clear falsetto with ease. On I Am Not a God, her voice loops in layers, pitch-shifted into a stunning kaleidoscope of harmonies. It stretches, languid, across static-laced backdrops of synths and drums, somewhere between Kelela and Kimbra.
The EP is full of warm tones and peaceful melodies that are both vulnerable and alluring. The project is an invitation: “I mean, the ideal world that it could create is just a place where people feel safe,” vōx says. In writing the EP, there was one moment of insecurity to which she frequently returned: her first panic attack, which took place on stage at her Confirmation. “The emotions were just, like, I don’t want to be here, but I’m paralysed – and that is the root of all of my anxiety that I still struggle with today,” vōx explains.
“All of these parallels in my life lead back to these moments in the church... I keep going back to it”
“All of these parallels in my life lead back to these moments in the church,” she continues. “I think that’s why it’s such a big topic – I keep going back to it.” She mentions the new spirituality she feels in the woods or by the sea. To her, to feel so small next to something so expansive is moving. Now she’s ready to return to where she felt the most insignificant.
On the cover of I Am Not a God, vōx sits defiantly on a church stage. She’s wearing her red dress, her red tulle and her red halo. “I’m sitting in a metal folding chair, which I probably sat in back at my Confirmation, but I’m in my stage costume.” Now, the stage is hers.
Sounds like: A hymnbook produced by Imogen Heap
Soundtrack for: Lighting a bonfire on a deserted beach
File next to: Sampha, Sevdaliza
Our favourite song: Life In Me
Where to find her: soundcloud.com/itsmevox
I Am Not a God is out now via Arts & Crafts