Vixen77: Coming Out With a Bang

Photo by Shervin Lainez

As seen in
Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 22 – Winter 2022

Birthed out of the heart of Philadelphia, PA, punk rock band Vixen77 pulls inspiration from the ‘60s and ‘70s garage rock era. Their distinct sound makes them instantly recognizable in a sea of many. From the bright funky colors showcased through their individual styles to the band’s sonic attitude, Vixen77’s creativity has limitless bounds, showing that hard work and dedication will push you to where you want to be. Guitar Girl Magazine caught up with members Caitlin and Elizabeth to talk about the creative process between five personalities, what drives their musical inspiration, and how each member’s dedication to the band keeps them at the top of their game.

Vixen77’s debut album, Easy Access, is now streaming on all music platforms.

Tell us a little more about the band; where and how did you all come together?

Caitlin: I was 25 and living alone, somewhat depressed in grad school. After not being in an active band for almost two years, I decided to give it another go. In 2018, I decided to get in touch with some ladies I knew and spread the word, and here we are now, several years later.

Elizabeth: My name is Elizabeth Cartwright, and I live in South Philly. In 2018, I got together with a mutual friend of Cait’s to jam, and I’ve been in the band since. When I joined, I was just writing songs. We even played a show without a bassist, but we have significantly grown since then.

What attracted you all to your style of music? How did you develop your distinct sound?

Caitlin: I’m enthralled by the vibe and attitude of punk music. I play rock ‘n’ roll guitar in a way that I’d like to hear it myself. I love listening to catchy songs that inspire me to create. All in all, we developed our sound over a love of distortion-heavy guitar and rock ’n’ roll.

Elizabeth: I grew up in a family that loves music. We would listen to artists like James Brown, Fleetwood Mac, CCR, and more, so getting involved in a band was just natural for me; I became obsessed with the art of creating and playing music. In fifth grade, I got the chance to listen to Little Stevens Underground Garage and immediately fell in love with garage, powerpop, and rock ‘n’ roll styles. That’s when I knew I wanted to play guitar and be in a rock band one day.

How did you all first get into your respective music journeys?

Caitlin: I started playing guitar around 13 when I discovered my love for playing the blues. That was also the year I started going to punk shows and generally adopting an intense critique of the systems of power. The sound we have today comes from that amalgamation of blues, rock, and a punk attitude.

Elizabeth: I started listening to the Sunday night radio program Little Stevens Underground Garage, which changed my life forever. I’m obsessed with music. All I daydream about is how I can contribute to its history. Rock ‘n’ roll brings that feeling of wanting to contribute to something bigger.

Who are some of your musical influences?

Caitlin: Jack White has always been a primary musical influence for me. As far as being a guitarist, his playing specifically inspired me to pick up the guitar and play. T-Rex and The Clash are two of my favorite bands.

Elizabeth: Velvet Underground, CCR, the Runaways, KISS, Motörhead, Thin Lizzy

What is the band’s process for creating new music? Where do you all pull inspiration from?

Caitlin: I get inspiration from riffs that I hear in my head. As a band, we put songs together piece by piece, refining them over time until we reached the finished product.

Elizabeth: I get inspiration from everything at all times. Sometimes, I will be doing other tasks and a riff or vocal melody comes to mind. Thank god for phones now because I can record myself singing the notes or tunes to noodle around with later.

Do your personal experiences influence the band’s overall musical style?

Caitlin: I’m sure it does! Probably in many ways that I’m not even consciously aware of.

Elizabeth: I haven’t had the most effortless life, so being rough around the edges is inherent and reflected in my music style and energy. Life is hard; you gotta roll with the punches. I view music too.

Tell us a little about your equipment. What is in your respective rig setups?

Caitlin: I play out of a 60-watt Orange combo amp. I love that I can pick it up, which makes traveling with it convenient. For guitars, I have been playing a gorgeous purple Les paul.

Elizabeth: I’ve had an Epiphone 58 Korina Explorer since 2019 that I am absolutely in love with. I also have a Fender Frontman, a ‘70s Ampeg head that I pair with my Vox cabinet. I have an area in my house that’s always set up for me to play and record whenever I want.

Where do you see yourselves within the next few years?

Caitlin: I see us playing at more significant outdoor festivals and shows soon. I’m particularly excited to experience that.

Elizabeth: We really want to tour! I am excited about the future of playing almost every night. We want to play on bigger stages, but I’ll be happy as long as we’re playing.

What do you like the most about playing music?

Caitlin: I love the experience we have with the audience. Having the space to create a vibe with the audience makes or breaks a show.

Elizabeth: Everything, from the therapy that music provides to the crowd. Music gives way to energy which can lead to pure happiness. You can feel it coming from somewhere deep inside you.

Walk us through your studio recording process.

Caitlin: We record with the incredible Pete Donnelly, best known for his band, The Figgs. He meticulously gets as much material as possible, so the process includes us playing the songs repeatedly until we get what we need.

Elizabeth: We recorded the album in 72 hours, so our baseline recording process differs slightly from most. We wrote the songs, practiced our butts off, went into the studio, and hammered everything out. The girls were so on point. The whole experience was great. Shout out to Pete Donnelly, our producer, who has been with us for the long haul.

How do you develop ideas for your music videos and other visuals for your album?

Caitlin: Everything comes together naturally, as it should! We started with some songs, completed the lineup, and wrote the second half of the record as a group. The shared vision for the album comes from our desire to see more women rocking out in music. We put a lot of effort into ensuring that energy comes through in our videos.

Elizabeth: We all have different styles, so we must approach it democratically. We collaborate with the directors of our videos, so we have a say in our creative direction. It’s super important for a band to maintain that.

How do you all merge your different creative styles?

Caitlin: Interestingly enough, our diverse styles make our songs unique and dynamic. We get this melting pot of various sounds as we write them together.

Elizabeth: When writing music, we bring different ideas for riffs, lyrics, melodies, etc., to practice. From there, we spend time jamming and working out tracks that could be on our future projects. Through this process, we’ve all contributed to creating a final product showcasing our contributions.

Since being creative is part of a musician’s job, what do you all do to keep a healthy mind, and how do you all deal with artist’s block?

Caitlin: For me, it’s a combination of being vegan, not drinking, and obsessing over running and fitness. This generally keeps me at my best to do what I need to do!

Elizabeth: I don’t know yet; I am still trying to figure out what works for me. If I have writer’s block, I don’t beat myself up about it. Creativity is a part of mania, so when I’m in it, I’m in it.

What can we expect next from Vixen77?

Caitlin: You can expect us to play some bigger shows and share our album Easy Access with everyone who wants to hear it! I’m already stoked to write our next record.

Elizabeth: Expect to see us in your city! I can’t wait to hit the road.

~ By Guitar Gabby and Fayola Waithe