Q&A: Dita Vox of Thee Emergency

Since 2006, Thee Emergency has delivered three soul-saving albums of top-volume, deep-soul garage rock. Singer Dita Vox and guitarist Matt “Sonic” Smith fuel the group’s motor, a quintessential onstage duo drenched in sweat and swagger. Vox—aka lady-about-town Zana Geddes, star of last year’s $5 cover pseudo-documentary—talked to us on the eve of releasing the band’s fourth record. 

Dita Vox versus Zana Geddes. What’s the story?
Dita’s a wild child. She’s kinda vulgar— curses like a sailor and will challenge anyone to a spitting contest. She has all the qualities that my mother tried to train out of me.

What’s your relationship like with Matt, onstage and off?
Onstage, I have tunnel vision and never pay attention to what’s going on with the other guys. Sometimes Matt and I will run into each other and try to play it off as some kind of sweet rock ’n’ roll move, but usually I’m focused on keeping the audience engaged in the show. Offstage we’re two halves of one head. He’s the brain and I’m the mouth.

Was $5 Cover your first acting gig? How was working with director Lynn Shelton?
Lynn was such a positive, free spirit. I’d hardly call what I did acting, but I’d definitely like to give it another go. Being in front of the camera is slightly seductive.

What’s it like to stand at the crossroads between fashion and rock ’n’ roll?
I’ve always longed to be more involved in high-end, experimental fashion— fashion as art. It’s hard for me to translate my love of couture into street- or stage-wear, especially on my budget. My band encourages me to take risks with my stage clothes and makeup and that gives me confidence to try more outrageous things.

You recently styled Taylor Swift’s onstage crew at the Tacoma dome. What was that like?
I learned more about myself and what I want my role to be in this industry. Getting things done behind the scenes is crucial, but I’d rather be the one in the spotlight.

Thee Emergency performs with Mudhoney, Fastbacks, and Lovesick Empire on Oct. 22 at Heineken City Arts Fest.

Photography by Nate Watters