Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Don't Bring Me Down: A Hypothetical Band Event

Austin is known for its music - sure. But fashion? Well, we're getting there. Especially when visual euphoria like Fashion Freakout comes along. For both of those reasons, I was immediately intrigued when I heard about "Don't Bring Me Down," an art / music / fashion / film party happening this Friday at the United States Art Authority. Get this: local designer Rachel Fields and photographer Christina Shaffell have teamed up to create a fictional band, styled and shot by the ladies themselves. This Friday, they'll celebrate the "band," while REAL bands, REAL filmmakers, and REAL photos will be on-hand to pay homage. Sound crazy meta? It is.

Direct from the press release: "Fashion that takes its cues from bad-ass funk and 18th-century popular attire will be on display, along with photos and set-pieces from the group’s one and only photo shoot. Filmmakers Jacob Villanueva and Tim Thielen will present short films about the artistic process." Whee!

Recently, Rachel and Christina were kind enough to stop by Austin Eavesdropper and spill the deets on Don't Bring Me Down.

1. Where did the idea for "Don't Bring Me Down" come from?

Austin is the self-proclaimed "Music Capital of the World" and there is tons of music all over the city any night of the week. I was struck by the lack of style that many musicians have around town. Music is first and foremost of course, however the way in which an artist presents him or herself are essential as well in projecting a certain aura / vibe / persona / image. I think it also goes back to the "Americana" genre in that that type of music is supposed to be genuine, some guy / girl who is singing about true-to-life events and feelings in their living room. To put any thought into dress would negate the authentic feeling. However, as a fashion-oriented person, I think it just comes off as schlepy.

I was interested in styling a band as an experiment but didn't feel comfortable convincing a pre-existing band to let me completely take over their entire aesthetic...there would be too many pre-conceived notions and egos involved...and again, this was just an experiment. So I created a band that would play music that I enjoyed and found interesting but that also had certain looks associated that would lend themselves well to experimental styling.

2. What inspired you to create an event based on a fictional band?

After my super-talented photographer buddy, Christina, was on board I started emailing every creative person I knew--as did Chrissy. People seemed to be really into the idea. The more people we contacted, the bigger and more elaborate the project became. Next thing we knew, not only were we to have a fashion shoot, we also had friends who wanted to make films about the process and others who wanted to write music for the project. It snowballed into this amazingly multi-media event.

3. It appears there are a
lot of historically-based fashion influences weaving themselves into this event - 60s, funk, 18th cent. Rachel, what time periods (or perhaps which historical figures) influence your designs most?

Since the music is 1960's garage rock with a funk beat, I thought of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and
especially Betty Davis (amazing woman married to Miles Davis for one year, fashionista, musician, and fellow North Carolina native). One picture in particular...

The other element was the lyrics inspired by French Romantic poetry (Baudelaire & Rimbaud). Again, very distinctive fashions that lent themselves well to the styling. Here's a photo of Baudelaire.

4. Rachel, how did you direct the photo shoot for this "hypothetical" band?

Christina and I approached it as if we were shooting a real band, so we came up with a concept-a storyline...kind of like a story within a story, a concept within a concept. Like Sharon Jones, I wanted to have a female lead singer flanked by study male musicians-in this case, four dudes. We decided that like the age old saying, "cherche la femme." We decided to have a bit of a love triangle that ended tragically--just because.

5. Tell us about these videos
Jacob Villanueva and Tim Thielen are screening.

We actually just got back from seeing the drafts of both videos! Jacob's video is an arty version of the love story that's played out within the main photos. Tim's film is a behind-the-scenes look at the process of the project.

6. Last but not least - the music.
Hailey Tuck & the Finn Brothers are playing songs especially created for the event - what does that mean? And Crooks - me likey. How are they connected to all this theatrical / art / fashion / film madness?

Haha, do you know Crooks? They're awesome, and I just love them.
Hailey and the Finns--they are playing music in the persona of the fake band. They are working on writing one or two brand new songs, translating another into French, and playing a lot that are covering many that are in the garage rock vein. I'll most likely be styling them a wee bit so that they are dressed in a similar manner as the photoshoot band. But just a wee bit.

Since we were having an art opening and the Finns were playing, we thought we might as well make a party out of it and have another band play as well. Crooks came into the picture because Josh is childhood friends with the secondary photographer, Erin, and we thought their style of music matched really well with the entire vibe of the project.

Lastly, Christina and Erin have convinced me to have a couple girls walking around in fashions that I've done in the past that are entirely unrelated to Don't Bring Me Down. I decided not to have any of the fashions created for the project displayed and this was the second best option.


Sarah D. said...

Sounds like fun I want to go!!

Also, come out to my garage sale this weekend if you get a chance :)

Sarah D. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I have been here.