APU alumna Moxy Anne loves to rock, but her music has a larger story behind it than what meets the eye. Her debut solo song, ‘The Egg’ tells the story of the Hong Kong protests.
Dozens of people gather in an alley next to Guitar Ninjas in Burbank. It’s 6:30 p.m. on a mid-September Saturday and the show is about to start. Families munch on tacos as two women dressed in ripped black jeans and leather jackets take the stage. Heartless the Duo is about to perform and they’re going to rock this quiet Burbank neighborhood, even if it’s only for an hour.
The duo opens with a classic from their namesake band, Heart, belting Barracuda like it’s 1977. Sydney Ellen strums her acoustic guitar, while Azusa Pacific alumna Moxy Anne (her stage name) sings the rock anthem, ‘You’d have me down, down, down on my knees/ Now wouldn’t you, Barracuda?’ Moxy’s voice is as deep and powerful as Heart’s lead singer Ann Wilson.
The duo follows with another rock ballad, Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On.” They have sang this song a thousand times, and it shows. Moxy builds up, staying quiet into the chorus, before letting the full rasp of her voice come out when she sings ‘Ramble on/ And now’s the time, the time is now/ To sing my song/ I’m going ‘round the world.’
Though she’s just in an alley of an LA suburb at the moment, this last line rings true for Moxy. Just months before, she was halfway across the planet, in China with the APU Chamber Singers.
Moxy and the Chamber Singers began their journey in Hong Kong in July, just two months after she graduated in May 2019 with a commercial music degree. The Chamber Singers performed at churches and other venues across the city. One of Moxy’s best memories from the trip happened on the group’s day off in the city, which fell on her 22nd birthday.
“My best friend and I decided to explore. We took the train to old-town Hong Kong. We found a secret bookstore and this little tea place. We just walked around and looked at old things. Then we got an amazing dinner and watched Victoria Harbor at night,” she said. “It’s such a beautiful city, with such friendly people. I want to go back, but I don’t know if they’ll let me.”
She is only half joking.
On Aug. 30, Moxy released her first song as a solo artist, entitled ‘The Egg.’ Unlike the other rock songs she sings, this song is quite peaceful, quiet. Instead of sounding fierce, she sounds fragile. This is deliberate. In ‘The Egg,’ Moxy tells a story.
The song is a journey through multiple perspectives on the Hong Kong protests, which started after proposals of a bill that would allow Hong Kongers to be extradited to mainland China for any reason. The first verse opens with the Chinese government’s view, ‘Don’t go there/ Don’t do that,’ referencing how the government doesn’t want to let the people have their freedom. The second verse reinforces this, ‘Don’t act out/ Don’t play with fire/ Don’t grow up,’ showing how the government commands their people to not fight back.
The third verse changes perspective ‘Dare to think/ Dare to speak/ Dare to act.’ This ironic sentiment plays on the mottos of the Communist government and former Chairman Mao Zedong.
“That was something they told the peasants of rural mainland China when they encouraged them to join the Communist movement. They told them, ‘Dare to think. Dare to speak. Dare to act,’” Moxy said. “I took that and turned it on its head, turning it into a transition from the voice of China to the voice of the Hong Kongers.”
The next two verses continue the pleas of the Hong Kongers, ‘We don’t want to watch it burn/ We just want the tides to turn/ And wash it all away/ And when we’re against the wall/ Standing on our last leg/ And when we have to choose/ I stand with the egg.’
This verse answers the command of the Chinese government saying ‘Don’t play with fire,’ by saying ‘We don’t want to watch it burn.’ Moxy said the Hong Kongers are just fighting for their freedom, not to destroy anything. The verse also hints at the title of the song in the line, ‘I stand with the egg.’
“It’s a very Eastern way of thinking. It comes from a quote [pictured below] from a Japanese author named Haruki Murakami,” Moxy said. “Essentially, the egg is a metaphor for our souls and for the ability of right to emerge as victorious over wrong, over oppression, over anything that tries to bring people down.”
Although the song is not a worship song at all, nor does Moxy categorize herself as a Christian artist, the song does reference two anthems of the Hong Kong protest based in Christianity. The lines are ‘Pray for us,’ and ‘Sing Hallelujah to the Lord.’ These were intentionally incorporated into the song. As Moxy said, you cannot tell the story of the protests without them.
Moxy wrote and published this song in less than a month, an incredible turnaround time for a professional song. She said it was important to be as timely as she could be about it. She went on to perform it at the Hong Kong rally in Los Angeles just days after it was released.
“Performing at the Hong Kong rally in Los Angeles was incredible because I got to meet people who were free to express what they believed in and free to voice their opinions about the protests,” she said. “I love America because regardless of what the government is saying, we still have the freedom to express what we believe in … A lot of the people at the rally didn’t understand what I was singing in English, but they clapped for me anyways. People were genuinely happy because of my song, which is what I wanted.”
After ‘Ramble On,’ Moxy dives into her repertoire of rocks classics with Pat Benetar’s ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot,’ followed by Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love,’ all the while trying to get the crowd to join in.
“You guys know you can sing along right,” she laughed. “It’s alright. I’m just glad you guys are watching. We’re used to people not paying attention at the gigs we do.”
After the Rick Astley bop, ‘Never Gonna Give You Up,’ got a few spectators to join in, Moxy was encouraged and decided to try to amp up the energy.
“Are you guys ready?” she asked. “We’re going to play the best rock song in the history of the world.”
After just one chord, everyone knew exactly what song she was singing. The crowd cheered and people who were quiet all night started singing Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believin.’’ Moxy looked at Sydney and smiled, rejuvenated by the crowd’s newly intensified spirit.
Moxy followed this up with ‘Shallow’ from “A Star is Born,” giving Lady Gaga a run for her money when it came to the chorus, ‘I’m off the deep end, watch as I dive in/ I’ll never meet the ground/ Crash through the surface, where they can’t hurt us/ We’re far from the shallow now.’
Much like Gaga in the beginning of her career, Moxy has the talent and the enthusiasm to become a star. She’s working these small gigs for now as it’s all she can get, but she’s happy to just be singing with her best friend.
“I would love for performing to be the way I make a living,” she said.
Moxy ends the night with two more of the greatest rock songs ever, Heart’s ‘Crazy On You,’ and Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven.’ Moxy sings these last tunes with more intensity than any of the previous songs, losing herself for a bit in the fast paced final verse of ‘Stairway,’ ‘And if you listen very hard/ The tune will come to you at last/ When all are one and one is all/ To be a rock and not to roll.’
The crowd applauds, then gives the duo hugs, before filing out. The night is quiet again.
After releasing ‘The Egg,’ Moxy released her next single, ‘Bella’s song.’ This track was named after her sister, and her story of struggling through anxiety and depression before overcoming it.
In the coming weeks, Moxy will release a song entitled ‘Haunted’ about her ex, followed by several songs from her senior recital at APU. She plans on releasing them together as an EP by the end of the year, and hopes to come out with another EP of original songs next year.
Moxy’s songs vary from singer/songwriter to hardcore rock. One night she’s in her all black punk outfit singing rock covers, and the next day she’s singing in a church. While the style of her music might change, her intention behind it does not.
“One thing that’s always been important to me, regardless of what kind of music I’m doing, is that it’s uplifting to people,” she said. “My reason for doing music is because I want to bring beauty to people who are broken.”