Phox's self-titled debut comes out June 24.

Alt-folk band PHOX to perform at the Mill


The alt-folk group will perform today at the Mill as part of the Mission Creek Festival.

By Claire Dietz

Monica Martin never really sang publicly before PHOX, the six-piece alternative-folk band from small town Baraboo, Wisconsin.

PHOX will perform as part of Mission Creek Festival at 8 p.m. today at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington.

“Our biggest goal as far as writing songs and arranging songs would be allowing pretty open access to all the different things that influence all of us as individuals,” Martin said about the band’s “frantic” sound. “Just servicing the melody, so to say, there’s not really a conversation like, ‘I wanted to sound like pop-whatever, or this, or that.’ ”

Aside from that one of her favorite bands, UK-based Everything Everything will play, Martin said Mission Creek is helping the Midwest lose the term “flyover country.”

“I’d never heard that [term] before,” Martin said. “As much as I am very aware of what it’s like to grow up in Wisconsin and not have a lot of culture, I still think there’s a lot of valuable things going on there. They have people coming together to put beautiful artistic festivals together despite our bad rap, debunking our stereotype.”

Martin will also debunk stereotypes when she participates in the “Black Art/White Space, Part II” panel at 7 p.m. today at the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St.

PHOX’s creative process, used for its first and in-process second albums, is far from conventional, Martin said.

“If I shared any amount of information about the process for someone to apply to their own practice, I feel like I would probably hinder someone else,” Martin said. “We have little frame of reference, so it’s like there’s no streamlined process to this. Just the nature of having wanted to take on different tasks.”

Martin is working with PHOX to produce its second record, for which Martin is the main lyricist. For this record, she decided to try a different approach, reaching out for advice in her songwriting and trying to come at it with a bit more focus.

“I’ve been reaching out to friends and people that I admire and asking them for their insight, so even stepping into a sort of situation where they will have a conversation about song ideas I had,” she said. “Maybe I’ll show them the first verse and chorus.

“For a while, I would have not considered that; I would have thought if I do cowrite with someone outside of the band, then it means that it’s not all PHOX. [But], PHOX is not interested in creatively limiting ourselves, so I’m trying to step out and trying to find inspiration in friends and conversation.”

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