Roxy Cottontail never bores. The self-proclaimed musical curator has a head full of pink tresses, a smile that’s both scintillating and sweet, and a firm grip on New York City nightlife. If you want to party in the Big Apple, she’s the woman to call. And even though she wasn’t born and raised in the city that Jay-Z calls home, her life experiences and networking abilities in Baltimore and Philadelphia have lead her to cultivate some of the most jaw-dropping and booty-popping events in NYC.
Inspired by the likes of Spank Rock, Diplo, and Justine D., Roxy noted how these veterans commanded crowds, showcased underground acts, and were superbly creative in their approach to the party rocking lifestyle. She branded herself as a downtown NYC staple by throwing events such as her notorious Monday nights at Sway, then moved on to feed the appetites of beat-hungry music enthusiasts as a DJ, spinning vinyl, graduating to Serato, and mashing hip-hop tracks with electro smashes.
Ever the creative vixen, these days you can find her making cameos on old episodes of “How to Make It in America,” crafting new songs like “Bounce Little Kitty,” which feature her tempting vocals, designing a handmade dress for the next brunch she’ll host at Yotel hotel, or spinning a set for the next artist to watch.
Read on as this lady bunny gives Rap-Up.com the scoop on her new record label, the female rapper she fancies—and the one she’s not too keen on—and how a company touting her same moniker gave her a big break in Hawaii.
1. How long have you been a DJ?
I first started in the womb because my mom was a retired music teacher. She taught for like 35 years. I had always been collecting records since 5 years old. Professionally, my first exposure to female DJs and nightlife in general was through this woman Justine D., when I moved to New York in 1997. I started promoting parties and saw that world. I got into hip-hop and electronic music, and ’05 was when I really started DJing.
2. What are you currently working on?
I launched my label, Bunny Jawn, and now we’re setting up the releases—just all the legal stuff that goes into establishing a new business with my partners, so I can start signing these amazing artists I’ve discovered along the way. We’re planning big events for SXSW. I’m excited for 2012 to start because I have a residency in Las Vegas at the Palms. It’s really different and it’s nice to get out on the West Coast. I also have some upcoming dates in Europe. I’m basically focused on the label, working on some mixtapes, and producing as well.
3. How did you get your first big break?
It’s hard to say because I felt like one of my big breaks was when I was in college and met Justine D. She started a really legendary event called Motherfucker. It went on for years from The Roxy to Avalon, just major clubs. Just by living with her, I was like, “Wow, I can do this too. Just in a totally different way.” That wasn’t really a break but I had the open door to learn the process. My break, I met A-Ron the Downtown Don. He’s a legendary skate kid and face of Supreme [clothing]. aNYthing is his label. We started doing parties together in 2004. After 9/11, I moved to Philly and later moved back to New York. But in Philly I met Diplo and Spank Rock, befriended them, then decided to throw the same parties in Philly out in New York and that really set my whole business model with those events I did with Diplo. It was a great wisdom that he had, his spark and energy and creativity. I started DJing like a year or two after. I also have a really close friend who I call my club dad, Bugsy. He gave me one of my first weekly residencies at a club that is no longer open called SoHo 323.
4. Moment when you knew you had made it?
I don’t know if I ever feel accomplished. I think that’s how a lot of artists and creative people think. I’m always making and I’m always creating. But I remember when I first started DJing, Roxy/Quiksilver [clothing company] booked me in Hawaii. I was spinning on vinyl back then. And it was to play this event for 50 years of women’s competitive surfing around 2005. It was a big celebration party. I was blown away that they chose me, like they were flying me to Hawaii. Once I played on Wall St. the day that Virgin went public. So that was pretty surreal like waking up at 7 a.m. to go set up to DJ on Wall St. Probably also hearing “Bounce Little Kitty” on Hot 97. Shout out to DJ Enuff. I always feel like there’s new opportunities to make it.
5. Favorite artists right now?
I think I would probably say T. Mills. I’ve been doing a bunch of shows together with him. We did Halloween at Santos [in New York City]. It’s just insane the girls and the fans that love him. His music is incredible. He blows me away as an artist, as a writer, singer, rapper, and he’ll probably be a producer one day. He’s talented. I’m also a fan of Iggy Azalea too. I think she is a real aggressive rapper but is a lady as well. She’s a positive role model for women. I think that’s important and it’s not fake. I feel like Nicki Minaj comes off as this Barbie, attitude [person]. It rubs me the wrong way sometimes. I feel like Iggy is just real and is not some front.
6. Artists to look out for in 2012?
T. Mills and Iggy Azalea.
7. What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
I would say my longevity as a promoter and musical curator for downtown New York really gave every culture in New York and all these young kids a home and place to see new artists. I remember when Spank Rock’s first shows happened in 2005, when I put him on in New York, and kids were staring at him like, “What the hell is this?” Then a year later, they’re like crying, screaming, shaking their asses in everybody’s face over it. A lot of my events have bridged a gap. Also, they inspired a lot of different artists and music. I hope I’m remembered for all the awesome music I helped promote and discover along my career.
8. Future goals?
Producing. Also launching a career as an artist and even designer. I also want to really get into the publishing of music more. I had a couple placements on MTV and commercials with Scion, so I really see the reward of that. I want to help other artists achieve that as well. I discover so many different, amazing artists and give them a platform. I’ve been able to do that, but now I want to do it in a really longterm outlet.
9. What record always gets the party started?
Right now, Rihanna and Calvin Harris “We Found Love.” But that’s right now. A classic would be Michael Jackson’s “Can You Feel It.” It’s a party starter. He’s classic and everyone can sing along to it.
10. What’s your advice to aspiring DJs?
Do as much research as you can on the style of music you want to spin. Stay really prominent on social media, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or SoundCloud. Keep everything fresh and up-to-date. Record your live mixes at a club or even at your house. It’s a good way to go back and be like, “How did I so that?” Make a business card, a website, basic things. Network at the venues you would like to be in, whether it’s radio or weddings, whatever your shtick is.