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Whether she's making music or creating stop-motion animation, Lindsey Cox never really stops playing with dolls.
For instance, the Barbie in the music video for "Damage Control," the latest single from Cox's band stepmom, goes through a social media-fueled body-image crisis, throws herself into strenuous workouts, dons a unicorn mask and eventually ends up with her life literally in flames.
"A lot of my music has to do with growing up and teenage angst, so I feel like when I use the image of a Barbie doll, it's kind of representing that female beauty standard that's been shoved down our throats since we were young," said Cox, who is the box-office manager and talent booker for the Oklahoma City artist collective Factory Obscura.
"I like to try to dismantle that by showing images of the Barbie being melted and being destroyed, because I think Barbies are not a good role model for children. ... It just gives kids the exact wrong idea of what beauty is."
The OKC quartet's lead singer, songwriter and guitarist, Cox worked for more than a year to create the video, learning how to do stop-motion animation and directing the mini-movie herself.
"Working for Factory Obscura putting on shows and concert series and just having that ability to bring people together is something I can use for stepmom, too. We can really make something that's bigger than ourselves when we incorporate more people and more artists," she said.
Before Factory Obscura opened its headquarters and permanent "Mix-Tape" attraction in the Automobile Alley locale formerly known as The Womb in 2019, the artist collective offered a temporary immersive experience called "Beyond" in a warehouse near the Oklahoma River in 2018.
"We had that first immersive theater production there called 'Those Who Lie Beyond' ... and she was a musician in that show. That was how I first really got connected with Lindsey, and she's very creative and had lots of ideas about things we could do together. So, it was kind of a natural fit," said Kelsey Karper, Factory Obscura co-founder and director of logistical creativity.
"I definitely feel like Lindsey and I have a lot of similarities in that we love to help make things happen with and for other artists. ... She loves collaborating with other artists, and she's super talented. We're very lucky to have her on our team."
She called Cox one of "the main brains" behind all the performances that take place inside Factory Obscura's popular "Mix-Tape" attraction.
"Hopefully, we are creating a venue for artists of all kinds to make work that might not easily fit into other venues because of the scale of it or maybe because it's just too weird," Karper said. "We're hoping to make space for things that are maybe a little more unusual, and Lindsey's very good at kind of identifying who has the potential to do something a little bit more."
As the frontwoman of stepmom, Cox, 28, is leading her own unusual venture: an all-female orchestral dream punk band that features wicked (in a good way) multi-part harmonies, angsty guitars and ambient strings and synths.
"I hope our music ... potentially inspires young girls to pick up an instrument they might not normally have. I want to see more female drummers out there, I want to see more female guitar and bass players, and we just don't have a whole lot of that in the music industry right now," Cox said.
"I just want more women to really be represented in the music industry. ... I try to be intentional when booking shows and incorporating more female friends of ours, because it is very male-dominated."
A former member of another local band, The So Help Me's, the Edmond native began experimenting sonically in 2018 with fellow musician and singer Danielle Szabo. The stepmom lineup now includes Cheyenne Rain on cello and bass and Amie Reardon on drums, too.
"I got really lucky when I met my bandmates. They're all multi-instrumentalists. Danielle plays keys, xylophone, violin; she also sings opera, which is pretty cool. She got to sing opera on our most recent single in the background. ... Amie also plays oboe, which we're hoping to incorporate that in somehow in the future," Cox said.
"I typically bring a song to the band that's not fully finished, and then they really add all of the elements that make it what it is. It wouldn't be the same without them. ... And I'm trying to really incorporate more of the stringed instruments so they can really shine with their talents and do more instrumental pieces in the future."
Despite the challenges of making music during the COVID-19 pandemic — the band just shifted its upcoming show at Norman's Opolis from January to March due to the latest surge in cases — stepmom released its self-titled debut album in fall 2020. The band also was featured on Factory Obscura's "Mix-Tape Vol. 1" compilation cassette.
Inspired by her experience producing a Beatles-themed show for the artist collective, Cox said she is working on developing an immersive stepmom show to go with a planned autumn EP release.