Zona Music Festival: Glixen Performs Starry-Eyed, Melancholic Set

By Alexia Hill – Photos by Noah Vizzerra (viz.ability on Instagram)

On a cloudy Sunday in Margaret T. Hance Park, white lace ribbons are tied onto the microphone stand, ever-so-slightly being picked up by the wind. It’s midday and it smells like rain, but the crowd is starting to gather for the band whose name is branded onto the bass drum. Letters intertwined with a whimsical typeface that almost resemble spiderwebs, spell out that Glixen is about to perform. 

The 2022 Zona Music Festival, from Dec. 3-4, had a diverse lineup of over 40 local and global bands. Glixen performed as the opening act on Dec. 4, which was the second and final day. I had the pleasure of speaking with lead singer and guitarist Aislinn Ritchie and guitarist Stevie Santana about who they are, their sound and what’s next for them. 

Tell me what inspired you to start a band. Have you always been into music?

Ritchie: I’ve been in love with music since I was a little girl. I’ve been singing since I was nine and doing talent shows. Like, I knew I wanted to be a rock star in middle school. High school was kind of like a little break you know?I lived in Gilbert so there was really nothing going on. I would have to drive out here [to Phoenix] but I moved out right away. I knew I wanted to start a band. And I had two bands before this one.

Ritchie’s music endeavors began with a band called Blush, and later on a band by the name of Dovi. In 2020, Glixen was established with the band members: Ritchie, Santana, Keire Johnson, and Sonia Garcia. 

Sonia Garcia – Photo by Noah Vizzerra

How did you guys meet? 

Ritchie: So Sonia has been my best friend since I was 16. I’m 24 now so we’ve been friends for seven, eight years. It’s been a long time. Keire was best friends with my old guitar player,  stuff happened and we became friends. We’ve just known each other for that long and Stevie, we needed a bass player for Dovi and we asked him to play guitar for Glixen after Dovi. We’ve all known each other for a little while.

So why the name Glixen?

Ritchie: Glixen is the name of a song by Lovesliescrushing. Lovesliescrushing is like a noisy, shoegaze band. They’re from here actually, like some of their members are from here. One of the guys’ new band is Astro Bright. It’s a very niche genre. 

Hill: I’m slowly trying to get into it. I didn’t know what shoegaze was before you guys. So I mean, you’re my introduction into it all.

Glixen and Alexia Hill – Photo by Maja Peirce

Ritchie: That was one of my goals. Like, I wanted to introduce this music to a lot of people and do something different for this genre. Because this genre is just like, it’s not like how I treat it. How we perform, how we look, how we present ourselves is very different from other fields. 

Santana: I think I like that it’s[what shoegaze is doing] is more accessible. Like, we’re less like the gate kept shoegaze bands or whatever. To me, it feels kind of like we’re trying to branch out. We like to be welcoming. 

What’s your favorite part about performing and creating these experiences at concerts?

Ritchie: Literally today’s show has been one of my favorites. Like I don’t know how to explain it. It took so many years to just feel comfortable playing and being happy with our sound and all of that work just leads up to little moments like this morning where it’s just so easy.

Santana: Yes, like, I don’t really think about performing anymore. I feel like I can get up there and feel fine. But it did take like a bunch of years to work up to that. My favorite part is just meeting other like-minded people that you just end up connecting with.

How do you think the show went today, what are your thoughts post-show?

Ritchie: It went really good, I’m really tired now. *laughs* but I just want more. I want to do more, I want to get to that Beach House level with production, sound, it’s just like perfect. It’s a fucking journey though. I love this. I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. 

Santana: I loved it today, it went so good. We worked with the sound guys and they were super professional, and really nice to us. They did a lot of the work for us, like the heavy lifting which we’re not used to. 

Ritchie: We just went on tour to Texas, and we’ve never had that. In my years of playing shows, it felt so good. It’s something we work toward. 

Was that your first tour as a band? 

Ritchie: Yes, and we went with Glare! We love them so much, they’re so sick. They’re one of the Texas shoegaze sweethearts. It’s one of the biggest shoegaze bands right now, and they literally helped us out so much. I asked them, ‘Do you want to play? I’m planning a tour for like five days?’ And they’re like yeah, and then a day later they’re like, actually, like we’d be down  to do all five if you’re down and I was like, fuck yeah. They bring people out. 

Santana: We love them. It was like just a bunch of friends hanging out every night.

Stevie Santana – Photo by Noah Vizzerra

Its tour in Texas, from Nov. 3-7, included the bands Glare and Krall in cities: El Paso, San Antonio, Houston, Denton and Austin. 

Glixen performed at 12:30 p.m. at the Mingus stage. Its set started out with the song “Shut Me Down” and continued on with five more immersive songs. Despite the early performance, the crowd was high energy and the set felt personal. With hazy lyrics and strong guitars, Glixen allows room for everyone to truly feel the music. 

If someone had never listened to your music, how would you describe the sound and the aesthetic of Glixen?

Ritchie: Whenever I tell somebody that I figure I wouldn’t know any of the bands I like, I always say it’s like a mixture between Mazzy Star and Deftones. I feel like that’s just kind of like, the base of that, like everyone knows who those two are. I just can’t say My Bloody Valentine, like people don’t really know them.

Santana: When I try to sum it up it’s very hard. I try to say it’s just like 90s rock, especially like Smashing Pumpkins. Even though it’s not necessarily like black and white, that’s kind of what I default to. I know for Sonia and for me, Smashing Pumpkins are a big influence. 

Ritchie: We love the tones, the heaviness of Smashing Pumpkins, Deftones like all those really heavy bands, but with a really dreamy fluttery sound like Cocteau Twins, Beach House even. Beach House has been one of my biggest inspirations since I was like 15. Blush and Dovi were all like Beach House, Cocteau Twins inspired and less heavy. More dreamy and poppy. Glixen is a lot heavier.

Aislinn Ritchie – Photo by Noah Vizzerra

Was there any major reason for making the switch to a heavier sound? 

Santana: The transition into like, heavier music was during lockdown. We got into heavier bands. For me, again I wanted it to, like kind of bridge that accessibility. Some of these bands. Like for me, I was like this is too brutal. I want something that’s pretty, but that I can also jam out to. So I think it’s really cool and I don’t see it done too much. So for me that was like a challenge for us to write and bring each other these ideas and try to expand on them with those things in mind. 

Ritchie: After my last guitar player and I broke up, friendship-wise, after he left I was just like, I can’t believe I could write that much. I literally wrote hours and hours, like all of lock down just working on these songs that we played. It’s been like two years of getting these songs like that and going into the studio too. Studio time was crazy, like we went to a studio in May and mixes are barely almost done right now. It’s been six months. But, our producers are just really good and he’s just been working really hard on it. Especially as our first EP it has to be like, almost perfect.

What’s next for you guys as a band? 

Santana: I would say that the EP is the biggest for sure thing. 

Ritchie: After that, I just want to play in LA and do tours as much as we can. I really want to try to sell this EP to bigger things so we can get on bigger bands’ bills and go on tour for these bigger bands that we love. 

Glixen’s Instagram bio says, “in phx making fuzzy melodies,” and I think it lives up to that illustration. The band’s look and sound feels aggressive but still almost calming and nostalgic, like something you’d hear off in the distance of a dream. It is so special to see and hear the duality of a band – from seeing white lace ribbons on the microphone stand and red lace ribbons in Ritchie’s hair, to then hearing the distorted guitar sounds and blurred vocals. 

The band’s debut EP is set to come out sometime early 2023, so make sure to follow them for updates and more information. 

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