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August 20 2014

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Misty Rabbit Talks Spinning Fashion’s Soundtracks

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Misty Rabbit

There’s no shortage of deejays on the fashion scene, with your Misshapes and your Harleys and your Alexas and what have you. But Mimi Xu—who goes by the name of Misty Rabbit when she’s on the decks—has a particularly impressive knack for blending unexpected musical genres (think Berlin’s ambient electro mixed with classical jazz fading into a cool spin of disco-funk) into cohesive and oh-so-catchy sets. She’s an eager bunny, and knows just how to get the party going for the likes of Miu Miu, Prada, Fendi, Acne Studios, and too many others to name. This season, the Shanghai- and Copenhagen-raised but London-based sound designer is as busy as ever. She mixed the soundtracks for Yigal Azrouël, Catherine Malandrino, Tome, and Ostwald Helgason in New York, developed runway music for Topshop, Julien Macdonald, and Emilia Wickstead in London, and dropped a special Fall/Winter mix for Mytheresa.com just last week. Next up? A hotly anticipated party for Moncler’s Pharrell Williams collaboration in Paris this evening, and a personal design project, which will undoubtedly become the requisite accessory for music-loving cool girls come holiday season. Here, Xu talks to Style.com about her Mytheresa.com mix, the difference between playing parties and runways, and her favorite new artists.

You’ve done a lot of shows this season. How does deejaying a fashion show differ from deejaying a party?
Deejaying is about a spontaneous, fun, and playful way of sharing music. It’s about getting the party going. When you do a soundtrack, it’s very nerdy and unglamorous—you’re behind the scenes, you’re really working with the designer, and you’re creating something with the designer to really reflect his collection. It’s not about what I like. Of course, it’s about my influences and my take on music. But I’m there to showcase the collection. I love doing both, but they’re very different. Show soundtracks take a lot longer. It’s a much more technical process—it’s much more creative, and it’s more intellectual. And with soundtracks, everything’s set in stone previously. On the day of the catwalk, you don’t have to do anything besides cuing the show. But when you deejay, things never go to plan. Anything can happen on the dance floor. I can fill up the stage—who knows?

What have designers been asking you to play this season?
There are no specific trends this season. Each designer had their own inspirations. Musically, I went from Mississippi blues to Brazilian seventies experimental Tropicalia movement to psychedelic rave to classical theatrical to French electro. It’s a big range, so you need to be very erudite in your music knowledge. Designers need that.

What are you going to play for the Moncler-and-Pharrell Williams party?
I’ve been thinking today that we’re gonna do something quite hip-hop-y. But I don’t know! You can’t play Pharrell Williams tracks. I’d be embarrassed to play someone’s track when they’re in the room. So I’m not sure yet…. Obviously, I’m gonna have a lot of R&B and hip-hop, but it’s gonna go into disco and a few electronica-sounding tracks, too. I need to get people dancing, so I’ll see tonight how it will go.

Are there any songs that you’re tired of hearing?
Oh, you mean “Blurred Lines”? Or “Get Lucky”?

That would be one. I actually like “Get Lucky.”
You know what? I think when people get really drunk, I might drop it. It’s a bit cheesy to do that, but I think I might at 2 a.m., when they’re falling off the table—when they’re so drunk that they’ll dance on anything. This is a great time to get the spirit together. They’re great songs! But they’ve been a bit overplayed. That’s the only problem.

On the other end of the spectrum, are there any artists or albums you’re really excited about at the moment?
Jackson and His Computerband’s new album, Glow, James Holden’s new album, The Inheritors, the DJ Koze album Amygdala, Connan Mockasin’s new album, Caramel. I preordered the new Arcade Fire album, Reflektor. Excited.

Are you working on anything outside of fashion week that you can tell us about?
Yeah, I’m designing headphones with Frends. I use headphones constantly—whether I’m in the studio, on the catwalk, on the street, or deejaying—and I want to design a headphone that’s gonna become a fashion accessory. People can wear it almost like jewelry. You can put it around your neck constantly, without looking like you’re a nerd, you know? I’m working on this collaboration right now, to come out at the end of the year.

Photo: Jesse Lirola/BFAnyc.com

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