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hba soundwave
Hood By Air SS15Photography Lea Colombo

What our favourite menswear designers should be listening to

Whose runways should Tink, The Haxan Cloak and Lee Gamble be soundtracking?

There’s a lot you can learn about someone from their music taste. Show soundtracks play a vital part in shaping a collection and communicating its references – this season we’ve already seen Matthew Miller pick a track from Trainspotting, Liam Hodges send his 90s boys out to “Renegade Master” and J.W. Anderson take things a bit more literally, opting for Death Grips’ brand new “Fashion Week”. It’s a busy time of year for designers, so to make their lives that little bit easier, we’ve looked at their listening histories and chosen the bands we think they should be adding to their playlists.

RICK OWENS likes ZEBRA KATZ but he would love TINK

ZEBRA KATZ: The fierce ballroom rapper from Brooklyn set the tone for Rick Owens’ SS13 menswear show, with the deep house throbs of his Michele Lamy collab “How do you Feel”. It was a track exclusively commissioned by the designer, which saw Katz and creative polymath Lamy recite a Harlem Renaissance poem over skeletal, protruding beats and eerily warped vocal engineering.

TINK: Here’s another fresh hip hop voice in the shape of Chicago rapper/singer Tink, who also proved her taste for NYC club music’s underground elite when she teamed up with Future Brown for the warped trap anthem “Wanna Party”. With her smooth-as-cream vocals and light-speed rap talent, Tink currently holds the crown as one of 2015’s most exciting artists.

SHAYNE OLIVER likes TOTAL FREEDOM but he would love ARCA

TOTAL FREEDOM: “We’re making it normal to be abnormal,” the designer behind the boundary-pushing Hood By Air menswear label told us, which is probably why he chose the Total Freedom to soundtrack his AW14 runway withx “10,000 Screaming Faggots” - a truly unique aural collage of twisted drumbeats, zombie-fied poetics and distorted synths.

ARCA: If anyone’s been shaking up the mundane recently, it’s genre-challenger Arca, whose broken, intricate electronic beats and churning layers of synth have expressed a unique sonic palette that mirrors the HBA predilection for eschewing the standard. “We have our own voice,” Shayne Oliver told us last year. So does Arca. It’s a match made in fashion heaven.


PSYCHIC TV: For the subdued, heavy-stitched, tailored realness of Prada’s SS15 Menswear collection, she enlisted the dark, distorted noise experimentations of music/art collective Psychic TV, who rose from the abrasive, industrial ashes of Throbbing Gristle.

FACTORY FLOOR: Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV might have kick-started the industrial noise revolution, but DFA’s London trio Factory Floor brought it to new, techno-noir heights. Their visceral, punch bag beats and twisted razorblade synthesisers certainly wouldn’t sound out of place on Prada’s runway.

JEREMY SCOTT likes OPUS III but he would love BOSTON BUN

OPUS III: For Jeremy Scott’s brazenly nostalgic, pop-culture soaked SS15 menswear debut for Moschino, he enlisted the 1992 acid house classic “It’s a Fine Day” by Opus III as the perfect tongue-in-cheek soundtrack to a logo-laden, youth culture extravaganza.

BOSTON BUN: Proving that rave culture didn’t completely wither away with the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994, Ed Banger newcomers Boston Bun’s trippy brand of synth-dripping dance music encapsulates Moschino’s colourful, innovative history of eccentric, ready-to-wear designs.


MYSTIC BRAVES: Last summer, scuzzy flower child band Mystic Braves brought the West Coast to the runway in Hedi Slimane’s psych-rock spiked Saint Laurent Menswear collection, inspired by the rebellious teen spirit of the Summer of Love.

ANTIMATTER PEOPLE: Kitsune’s latest protégés are starry-eyed, 60’s-facing quintet Antimatter People, South London’s kaleidoscopic answer to their Californian counterpart. Their audiences have been known to appear in a cosmic cloud of tasselled leather jackets, classic cowboy boots and feathered chains… not unlike SS15 at Saint Laurent, then.

J.W. ANDERSON likes ANGEL HAZE but he would love LITTLE SIMZ

ANGEL HAZE: J.W.Anderson’s AW13 menswear collection represented a bold subversion of what menswear could be, in a fetishistic assemblage of school skirts, riding boots and white frilly gloves – all set to the vivacious, hyper-lyrical flow of Angel Haze’s “Werkin’ Girls”. The NYC rapper's track runs like a gutter-mouth schoolyard chant. “I’m an undefeated bastard,” she spits. “My tongue is the fucking rapture, bitch.”

LITTLE SIMZ: The North London rapper’s beats are dirtier and grimier than Haze’s, but she channels the same quiet, seething confidence and vigorous flow. Listening to her bedroom-cooked beats, sometimes you’ve barely had time to process one line before she’s moved onto the next, painting a striking parallel between Simz and multitasker J.W.Anderson himself.

RAF SIMONS likes the Under the Skin soundtrack by MICACHU but he would love the Duke of Burgundy soundtrack by CAT’S EYES

UNDER THE SKIN SOUNDTRACK BY MICACHU: Micachu’s soaring, ethereal soundtrack for our favourite alien epic Under the Skin was not only nominated for a Bafta, but Raf Simons used it last season for his angsty, hierarchy-smashing menswear collection.

DUKE OF BURGUNDY SOUNDTRACK BY CAT'S EYES: The delicately atmospheric, baroque-soaked film score for Peter Strickland’s new film Duke Of Burgundy is the work of Cat’s Eyes, the collaborative project of The Horrors’ goth-punk frontman Faris Badwan and multi-instrumentalist/soprano singer Rachel Zeffira.

REI KAWAKUBO likes JON HOPKINS but she would love LEE GAMBLE

JON HOPKINS: For the Comme des Garçons SS14 Homme Plus show, Rei Kawakubo enlisted the lush, sonic tapestries of techno orchestrator Jon Hopkins to soundtrack the rebellious, charcoal-tainted beauty of her retrospectively-minded collection.

LEE GAMBLE: There’s something dark and hopelessly intriguing about the spacial, hollowed-out techno thumps and whirls of Lee Gamble. Speaking to us in November, he described his interests as “cosmology, deconstruction, art in general, vegetarian Indian food, time, cats, memory, the hyperreal, Francis Bacon, reductionism, sleep, robots, Jean Baudrillard, agnosticism, decay, hallucination, nothingness, religion, dinosaurs.” No wonder his music makes such boundless shapes – much like a certain Ms Kawakubo.


REJJIE SNOW: Cult Irish rapper Rejjie Snow delivered a live soundtrack to menswear designer Martine Rose’s SS15 unconventional, Mapplethorpe-inspired collection. In a frisson of raw, insightful worldplay spread over sedate, organic beats, the 21-year-old has spent the last year atop Dublin’s blazing hip hop takeover.

JESSE JAMES: This South London rapper mirrors the down-tempo, zoned-out flow of Rejjie Snow, but with an introspective edge. His tracks are as much runway material as they are made for night-time walks home in this year's April showers.


SEREZHA SITROKIN: Last season, the Russian menswear designer made a monumental runway debut to the slow-building, minimal-yet-dramatic riffs of Moscow-hailing Serezha Sirotkin and band, utilizing the sinister alien myths and arctic ‘frozen heart’ prints in the collection.

THE HAXAN CLOAK: They don’t come much more intense than our favourite producer Bobby Krlic aka The Haxan Cloak, whose deep distortions, fuzzy synths and ghostly chimes reveal plunging depths that are darker than Russian winter skies.