Pop music—and specifically electropop—has seen a bit of a resurgence in the last year. Artists like Charli XCX and Robyn have received due praise for creating inventive sounds and taking pop to new places using different electronic touches, including synths. Very few of the artists who have received widespread recognition for innovation in pop music, however, are people of color.
Marxoxo is a Bay Area native who’s on a mission to put a browner, queerer face on pop music. Their songs incorporate sounds of bubblegum pop and hip-hop beats and pair them with refreshing R&B lyricism, and prove that they are one of the cyber-queer music scene’s best kept secrets. To learn more about their newest music video and the importance of their identity in their art, Marxoxo spoke with SPICY about their “Fantasy.”
How did you first get into music? When did you start appreciating music as an art form, and when did you realize you wanted to pursue it professionally?
Growing up, my family and I did a lot of karaoke. Wherever there was a party, there was karaoke. My sister and I would always pretend we’re on some idol contest and compete with our little Mariah Carey and Britney Spears renditions. That’s basically where I found my love for music and knew that it was something I had to do.
What steps did you take to work towards that career?
Obviously there’s so much more to making music than just singing; there’s writing, composing, and producing. I’m a super driven person so I signed myself up for my elementary band then learned piano and music theory. That didn’t do it for me though, because even though I love piano and classical music, I wanted more. So, I downloaded LMMS (which is this free program like Garageband) in middle school and started teaching myself how to produce my own beats. Since then I’ve just been honing my craft and trying to learn and grow as much as possible.
What was your inspiration when you wrote “Y2K Fantasy,” and what kind of song did you want to write?
“Y2K Fantasy” is about this special person in my life that really makes me feel like I’m living my best baddie fantasy. A lot of queer people miss out on some things that straight people take for granted growing up, like dating and relationships, but I feel like I’m catching up and wanted to bottle all those moments up into a super cute pop song.
Tell me about the music video. What vibe did you want to go for, and what kind of story did you want to tell?
There were two things that I knew I wanted for sure: a lot of pink and a lot of friends. I wanted to have as many of my friends—both IRL and URL—as possible, have fun, and show off all the power of QTPOC. Alex Vasquez, the director, and I were literally scouring through AirBnb for the cutest and most obnoxious pink house we could find, and voila! He came up with the plot that we all broke into the house like The Bling Ring and threw a wild party; it just happened to basically be the reality too!
What was the process of conceptualizing and creating the video like?
This was the first time I’ve ever produced and organized a music video, plus I was just finishing my last bit of university, so it was pretty stressful. Trying to organize the who, what, when, where, and how everything would go down took a lot of planning, but once everything came together, it felt like conducting an orchestra.
Any collaborators you’d like to shout out?
Boy Sim! He produced the track and is one of my closest friends. I’m so proud of what he’s doing and where he’s going. Also all the other artists that showed up and showed out for the video like Diablo, Kit Major, Kini Solana, David Munster, and Wu Am I. They really made it come alive.
Who do you consider some of your musical inspirations?
Ugh, that’s such a hard question because I feel like everything inspires me! But if I were to cut it down to my top 3, I’d have to say Tinashe, Britney Spears, and Miku Hatsune! Other than them obviously, I’d love to work with Donatachi and Princess Bri. They’re literally polar opposites and crazy talented, so I just know we’d make some heat together.
Why is it important for you to put your queer Filipinx identity at the forefront of everything you do?
My identity is important because my life experiences are directly related to it. Queer and trans people and people of color are everywhere in the real world but only recently have we started to make waves in being represented. Even though gay icons like George Michael and Madonna are great and amazing, I don’t see myself in them. But Vice Ganda and Jake Zyrus in the Philippines? Them I can relate to.
What do you hope for QPOC artists like yourself to achieve in the coming years?
I don’t hope; I know we’re on to great and amazing things. I mean, even though we’re living in a Trump dystopia, Lil Nas X just broke the record for longest running #1 single so the sky’s the limit. The only thing I hope for is the political climate to get better because that success is a stark contrast to how many black trans women are murdered every year and how Jussie Smollet was framed and robbed of his dignity and career.
What do you have planned for the rest of 2019?
I’m finishing my next pop track that I produced with Marcus Saint then I’m working on this mini hip-hop / R&B type EP with Diablo. I for sure want to do another video too but I have to decide which song first, so we’ll see about that.