A master of the macabre, a siren of steampunk, a vital part to the formation of underground roots, and a sister to so many artists and fans who followed her musical journey from the French-speaking regions of Canada to the forgotten spaces in Austin’s authentic underbelly, Izzy Cox was a creative burst that unabashedly explored the dark regions of the human mind and soul with courage and honesty, backed up by a divine voice carried upon billowous talent. She never fit into this world quite right, and that is what made her such a compelling and beloved artist.
According to close friends, Isabelle-Lilane Cox, known professionally as Izzy, has passed away after a long battle with late-stage Pancreatic Cancer. She died Friday evening (3-24) while in hospice care. Izzy was diagnosed with the disease in 2016, and had undergone extensive surgeries and chemotherapy over the last year. Many of her fellow Austin musicians had rallied by her side in multiple benefit concerts and a Go Fund Me campaign to help her with extensive medical bills, including a benefit during the recent South By Southwest at The Music Ranch just east of Austin.
Izzy Cox spent some of her childhood living in rural West Texas before moving to French Canadian Montreal. She says that she had an unusual childhood growing up in a religious organization and learning to play music from an early age while performing in marching bands, traveling regularly at the age of 12. All of this went on to the diametric and diverse sounds and themes that would later work into Izzy’s music and visual art. Murder ballads, steampunk jazz, punk, primitive and traditional country, and dark Gospel all inferred the Izzy Cox sound that was primordial to underground roots.
Her first musical output came in the form of mix tapes she released while in custody for juvenile delinquency in Canada. Later she would become a fixture of the Montreal independent music scene, releasing multiple records and rubbing elbows with artists such as the Rufus and Martha Wainwright among others, and also spending time in New York.
Izzy Cox left Montreal to move to Hollywood at the age of 27, and after a stint in California, eventually settled in Austin, TX a little over 10 years ago. Izzy Cox became a fixture of the local venues on Red River and beyond, while touring the United States extensively at times, primarily as a one-woman band playing a bass drum and hollow-bodied Gretsch guitar, singing her original songs and a catalog of country, bluegrass, and Gospel standards.
Her most recent band was Izzy Cox and the Ghosts formed in March of 2016 in Austin with guitarist Tony Cook, bassist Pete Maclanahan, and drummer Grant Dorian. Despite Izzy’s grave diagnosis, she continued to play out in Austin and make appearances at local venues, including at the Carousel Lounge and other places at the behest of her doctors to stay positive and upbeat.
At various times called the “Original Steampunk Crooner” the “Vodoobilly Jazz Queen” among other monikers, Izzy Cox was a local underground artist with international name recognition from her ability to put words and music to the innate fears encountered in the human experience.
Rest in Peace, Izzy.