Tone Talk with Bri Foxx

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Photo by Cynthia Karr

My name is Bri Foxx. I’m 25 years of life, and I’m happy to be. I’m an Atlanta Rock musician, and I groove to the tunes of what’s around me. I love to meet new friends and music. Being raised from such a diverse background (Half Panamanian, Half German), I have always loved how music can bring a community together. I am a multi-instrumentalist that loves to get her hands on anything she sees, but I’m mainly known for the voice I can belt. I can play a mean Alto-Recorder, but I play and write songs for my band called Toxic Foxtrot. I play a percussive rhythm style on my Takamine guitar, but I also enjoy writing on piano and uke. My main goal in life is to encourage people to be themselves through the power of music because it is truly a beautiful thing.

What is your definition of tone, and how has it changed over the years?
You know when you look at the Mona Lisa, and you see her smile? Tone to art is the perspective of the smile to Mona Lisa. Some see smiling; others say she’s smirking. In a general sense, tone is what the individual ear attunes to. It’s sound, yes. But our ears are wired in a way that allows us to connect with the world that, in my opinion, is the epitome of beauty. Music is culture, a way of life, a way of expression. We find that self-discovery through tones. Whether it’s in the material of our instruments, or the electronic manipulation of that drop of the floor beat, tonality is everything.

As a person with autism, I have always been acute to sound. Spruce is bright; Mahogany is warm. For someone like me who is sensitive to sound, the pitch of tonality is not the only factor of my experience in instrumentation. It’s the vibrations the actual instrument gives off, and how I feel the sound effects the world around me. A guitar sounds different in a car than it does in a room. When I hear tone, I often visualize the amplification I’m using, (if any at all), and how the sound bounces off/around the environment I’m playing in, as well as the loudness and pitch of the sound… all at once. The clap back of walls, the reverb of nature can affect anything you play. Sounds are mysterious but vexing.

What are your favorite tonewoods?
I don’t have favorites, but I am a sucker for cocobolo.

Which guitars, amps, and pedals are you currently using and why?
It’s just me and my Acoustic-Electric Takamine guitar. I call her Black Beauty. She’s my ride and die Stallion, with the perfect amount of action. I have an amp from Epiphone I got at a store, but I would like to upgrade. No pedals, although I love a good distortion, reverb, and looper. I’ve been lucky enough to try things. I’m mainly a product of my environment.

What about strings?
I like to challenge myself by trying different strings for my guitar. I typically go thick.

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Are there certain recording techniques you prefer in the studio?
I’m incredibly experimental. If it’s a paid thing, I tend to go as close as the references my client gives me. If it’s my stuff, I like slight reverb and a good warmth to my tone. I like to use a Dynamic microphone for more intimate fingerpicking, and I like to double my guitar tracks appropriately for a wider sound. As I experiment more in my sound and grow as a musician, I expand on the way I could possibly record a sound and often let the suggestions of the engineer or other bandmates come through. Collaboration is key.

How do you keep your sound consistent onstage?
Live is always bigger. That’s that. Go big or go home. Be daring. Your performances on stage should always be a bit grander than the ones you record. You want to give people a taste, but the full buffet is the ticket sale. You can make royalties and whatnot, but if someone went out of their way to come see you, you’ve got to deliver. I mean, that’s what I do.

What does your practice consist of?
I practice whenever I can, as spontaneous as my life can be. I’ll often carry my guitar and play in front of people at bars. At band practice or even in my head as I try to sleep—it’s limitless. I’m a songwriter, so I write songs in my head for hours on end and see if it applies to when I pick up the instrument. I love to compose. It’s usually half mental and half execution.

Favorite guitar riff or lick that inspired you to pick up the guitar and play?
No favorites 🙂

What is your advice for young women who hope to work in the music industry?
I never thought I would be doing the things I do, being the person I am. All I can say is that you’ve got to pay your dues. Learning your instrument is only half the battle. Ladies, you’ve got to learn the business as well. You’ve heard of the concept of being book smart vs. street smart? Not only should you be the best musician you can be, but you must be able to swim with the sharks. Read your agreements, do your homework. NETWORK! Also, jam. It’s a tough industry to be in. If you’ve made it this far, pat yourself on the back because sometimes it’s your back you have to look after. It’s a mean game, but you can make it better. If it’s too good to be true, it is. Read between the lines.

I actually have a list of commandments I follow based on experience. I’ve been performing since I was five years old, and I’ve been a part of many different realms of performance such as musical theater, acting, event coordinating, event booker, band manager, just to name a few. Maybe, with some of my advice, it’ll help you, fellow flower child.

BRI FOXX ROCK RULES:

  1. If the studio is in their room, avoid it.
  2. Never walk into a new establishment (open mics, open jams) with your gear until you know the setup. I have walked into establishments with full gear when all I needed was an acoustic-electric guitar. The more stuff you bring, the more you’re responsible for.
  3. Never sign a contract unless a lawyer (or someone you trust) looks at it first. It can mean all the difference for your future.
  4. Social media is important, but don’t let it consume you. Market yourself, but don’t compare yourself too much to others who might have more or fewer followers than you. You are perfect because you are you. Be yourself, and the validation will follow.
  5. Don’t put others down. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.
  6. Don’t be afraid to express yourself. Sing what you want to, be who you want to be. As long as you’re not hurting anybody, don’t be afraid to be an artist. Wear that cool hat to that open mic. Wear blue eyeliner for the heck of it.
  7. Don’t limit yourself. Try other instruments, even if you’ve never played them. There’s a plethora of music stores you can try things at. Explore the world around you. If you can get past the first six months of callouses from playing guitar, chances are you can play other stringed instruments too. Just find what makes you feel good.
  8. Don’t let your self-doubt control your ultimate success. I used to be a music teacher, and one thing I would tell my students of all ages is that self-doubt is like the troll at the bridge. You can either not cross the bridge to your ultimate creative liberation, or you can tell the troll to take a hike. That troll has no power over you.
  9. Don’t let the mean things get to you. People are going to be mean. Especially online. I know it’s easier said than done. But, I’ve had a lot of mean people try and make me feel like less than what I’m worth, and I had to remember that music is what I love. People will try to deter you—that having a career in music is “not realistic.” If you really want to be in this industry, you have to be driven. Haters gonna hate, taters gonna tate. Eat your humble pie every once and a while, but if someone is being a total butt-face, don’t let them get to you.
  10. Be careful on social media. Once it’s written in black and white, it’s hard to take back.

I hope any of this helps. Like I said, this industry isn’t easy. But, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

Follow me on social media @toxicfoxtrot

 

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