In a Guest DJ Project first, we host a duo – designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy, the sisters behind the fashion line Rodarte. When talking about the songs that shaped them, it’s more about film than fashion, with references to Star Wars, Apocalypse Now, and Disney’s Robin Hood. MOCA is currently presenting the first West Coast exhibition of the Mulleavy sisters’ work in a museum setting.
For More: http://www.rodarte.net
LR: Hi I’m Liza Richardson from KCRW and I’m here with the Mulleavy sisters, Kate and Laura. They are the designers behind Rodarte. And today we’re going to be talking about songs that have inspired them over the years as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. Now you ladies are the first duo ever on the show, so what about that process? How did you go about choosing these songs together? Was it really obvious or was there a lot of negotiation? How did you do it?
Kate: We were just in New York doing our last show so it was kind of a crazy time for us. I mean, it’s weird, because we had to agree upon it. So it’s not like we both went away and thought of separate things but, weirdly enough, as usual, we thought of separate things that happened to be the same.
LR: So the first one you chose was…
Laura: It’s “Here Comes My Girl” by Tom Petty.
Kate: I love Tom Petty, I think he’s such an interesting musician, especially for me, because I feel like he’s always been who he is: the simplicity and directness of his lyrics are what makes him so great. So I think he just kind of phrases things the way you would say them, which I think is hard to do as a songwriter.
Laura: Our dad drove us from Auburn to Birmingham. And at the time my dad had been growing morels for this project.
LR: Morel mushrooms?
Laura: Yeah, morel mushrooms.
Kate: Our dad’s a mushroom expert.
Laura: And it was like a new state, and that was actually kind of like the first real show we’d gone to and we left school to do it.
Kate: But the cool part was having someone tell you that this is this other version of school. We were both kind of going to school, but my dad was basically saying to us, we have this other thing that’s as important to do, we’re going to see Tom Petty.
LR: So tell me about your next choice.
Kate: This was a real obvious one for the two of us, we both love Elvis. The only song I’ve ever actually requested on the radio and had played is this song.
Laura: While we were at Graceland, on Elvis Radio.
Kate: To me, it’s where you get a chance to see how beautiful Elvis’ voice is, because I feel it’s just so haunted and there’s something that can’t be replicated about the way he sings. I feel like this is one of those songs where, whether you like Elvis or not, there’s something about how he sounds on this song that you know this is one in a billion.
Kate: We had an interesting kind of trip. We actually drove through Memphis –
Laura: To Oxford, down to New Orleans.
Kate: I remember when we left Nashville and went to Memphis. We went to Graceland and then we went to Stax Records.
Laura: You walk into his Hall of Fame records and all of the things he has. They have the “I Love” and “I Hate Elvis” buttons that they make. It’s pretty shocking to know that somebody can sing like that, and you can hear it in one song. And that’s all you need to know that that person’s a legend. I don’t need to know that he has a hundred gold records, it’s just this one song. This is “Blue Moon” by Elvis.
LR: That’s Blue Moon, it’s by Elvis Presley and it’s the choice of our guest DJs today, Kate and Laura Mulleavy and they’re the designers behind Rodarte. Let’s talk about your next choice.
Kate: This was an easy choice for us because we’re obsessed - I love the Doors, I actually have it as a test for people, I like to find out if they like them or not.
LR: You mean, before you like them.
Kate: Yeah. There are people who look at it and don’t see what I see about it which is, when this music first came out it was so on the fringes. We’re more accustomed to sounds like that now then when that was happening.
And I think “The End” is a perfect example of them at their best. It’s just an incredible song – it’s terribly depressing, but it’s just something you associate – I mean, we picked it specifically from Apocalypse Now because...
Laura: It’s kind of the best moment of sound in film.
Kate: This song, in relationship to how it works in the film, coming in with the sound of the helicopters and how you feel like you’re almost zooming in on a sound and it comes out. I don’t think that would have worked with anyone else but Jim Morrison.
And that’s what’s so interesting to me. So I feel like you have, to me, one of those undeniably impactful songs, and then how it was used in Apocalypse Now is an added layer. And I think you also associate music like that with the time period.
LR: So this is the choice of our guest DJs today, the Mulleavy sisters, Kate and Laura, and this is “The End” by the Doors.
LR: The designers behind Rodarte, that’s Kate and Laura, so let’s figure out your next track here.
Laura: Roger Miller’s “Oo-de-lally,” which is a song from the soundtrack of Robin Hood.
LR: And how did you decide on this one?
Laura: That’s fate because we were choosing songs for our last show and a friend of ours put two and two together and linked the songwriter to that film, and then it became this renewed interest in this song we’d always loved.
Kate: We were, as kids, obsessed with that film and, interestingly enough, a friend of ours lives in the animator’s old house in Los Angeles and we have got to see that which is really cool because he did some of the really amazing films at Disney during that time period.
When we were really young, we watched it obsessively and I remember being fascinated with the music in it. I don’t know, some things that remain in your childhood it’s like you don’t want to know overly about it, so I never actually sat down years later and thought, who was the person who was actually singing those songs or who wrote the music to this film? It was just one of those things that stays in your memory in the way I think you think about things when you’re younger. You don’t need to overly understand and dissect everything about it.
LR: So that’s Roger Miller doing Oo-de-lally, it’s from the Robin Hood soundtrack and it’s the choice for our guest DJs today, the Mulleavy sisters.
So you guys, I’ve noticed your whole list here is pretty much film-inspired. Even Blue Moon, I remember seeing it in the Jim Jarmusch film so prominently. Maybe that’s not why you chose it, but still you’ve got the Robin Hood soundtrack and Apocalypse Now, and your last choice is also a major motion picture.
Laura: Yeah! The last song is the key score to Star Wars by John Williams. I think if I had to pick a song where you just completely think about sound and what it means to people – for some reason, it exists in a movie. Within two seconds of hearing that, you understand a whole story and that’s the power of someone who can create a beautiful score.
Kate: The two things we think about that he did, which were Star Wars and Jaws, you don’t need to know it or see it, but you understand it the minute you hear it.
Laura: What’s interesting about that is I can’t help but remove what the beginning of Star Wars is like to me - and I know the back story of George Lucas breaking all the rules and leaving all the guilds because he wanted to have the words without the credits at the beginning and just have the powerful score.
And I think things like that, they ring true to us in the way that we want to work and the way that you kind of pave your own way and you have to break rules to make things happen. And I kind of think that we admire that in people. I guess, I mean, I feel like there’s an affinity to that in a weird way.
LR: That was the choice of our Guest DJ’s the Rodarte Team – the Mulleavy sisters Kate and Laura. That’s a medley by John Williams and it’s from the Star Wars Episode Four Soundtrack. You seem like major film buffs and that…
Kate & Laura: Yeah. We love movies
LR: And you know a lot of trivia about it and stuff.
Kate: We definitely, there’s so much that we don’t know, but I do feel like it just comes from actually being interested in things.
LR: So you guys did a great job you put a lot of thought into this. And we can’t thank you enough for coming to KCRW and sharing your picks.
Kate: This was super fun for us!
Laura: So Cool!
LR: For a complete track listing and to find these songs online go to kcrw.com/guestdjproject.