Fashion and interior designer Kelly Wearstler reinvents classic and vintage styles in her design work. Her musical tastes range from the sexy sounds of Airborne Toxic Event and a Radiohead cover featuring the Belgium Girls Choir to the sounds she grew up listening to in Myrtle Beach, including the Rolling Stones and Flock of Seagulls.
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1. I Scare Myself- Thomas Dolby
2. I Ran- A Flock of Seagulls
3. Sometime Around Midnight- The Airborne Toxic Event
4. Gimme Shelter- The Rolling Stones
5. Creep- Scala & Kolacny Brothers
Anne Litt: I'm Anne Litt and I'm here today with fashion and interior designer Kelly Wearstler. Today we will be playing excerpts of songs she selected that have inspired her over the years a part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. So Kelly, I see you have Thomas Dolby first up on the list. How did you come across this artist?
Kelly Wearstler: I went to school in Boston, it's such a great international city to go to school, lots of different kids from different backgrounds. A friend of mine introduced him to me and he's just a genius songwriter. Two songs that I absolutely love of his are “Screen Kiss” and “I Scare Myself. It’s just so beautiful and the instrumentals, piano playing and his voice are just genius and I really like how it was modern, but there are also classical strings. And the melody is just fabulous.
Song: Thomas Dolby – “I Scare Myself”
AL: I would think, as a designer, music would be a giant part of your process. Do you listen to music when you're designing?
KW: Yes, I have music on all day long. I wake up in the morning and go to Barry’s Boot Camp, get my ass kicked, at 6am, and it’s the loudest music. Sometimes I go to the 5am and it's just so wrong, listening to the loudest music at 5am while sprinting. I love music. It's so inspirational and it just makes me feel good.
AL: That was Thomas Dolby, “I Scare Myself”. Kelly Wearstler is KCRW’s guest DJ today. Talk about “I Ran” from Flock of Seagulls and tell me what it means to you.
KW: It totally reminds me of making the transition from 9th grade, or something like that, and going into high school. Going to parties, probably that I wasn’t invited to, and they were always playing The Flock of Seagulls. This was a whole new thing -- going to parties and seeing people, and people smoking and drinking. And it was a very profound time in my life. Then, of course, I started going to the parties and drinking and smoking..
AL: (laughing) Then it all went horribly wrong for you, we can tell.
KW: (laughing) No, no, no. It was just a big time in my life that things changed and I was going from a girl to a woman and just loved Flock of Seagulls, and have always liked them. It just reminds me of growing up in Myrtle Beach.
Song: Flock of Seagulls – “I Ran”
AL: That was “I Ran” by Flock of Seagulls. Up next you chose something wildly different, Airborne Toxic Event, the song is called “Sometime Around Midnight”. Why Airborne Toxic Event, what appeals to you about them?
KW: This is a relatively new song. It came out in the last year or so, and they're actually from Los Angeles, which I just found out. I take my boys to school in the morning and this is a song we would all listen to and say ‘god this is a really good song’.
It’s just very provocative and it’s a sexy song, and it has so much emotion in it. I love how it starts off kind of quiet and it just builds up to the end. It’s one I don’t think I would get tired of.
Song: Airborne Toxic Event – “Sometime Around Midnight”
KW: My boys actually play that song and my son Oliver sings it and they sang it at The Whiskey when they performed.
AL: Talk about this because your sons are here, they're 8 and 9, and their names are…
KW: Oliver and Elliot. They have a band, The Negotiators, with another little boy named Colin. They play covers of The Killers, Green Day, Airborne Toxic Event and many other songs. They're really good, so they ended up performing at The Whiskey and their name was on the marquee and it was such an amazing moment for us parents. It was a blast.
AL: Airborne Toxic Event, “Sometime Around Midnight” is one of Kelly Wearstler’s picks. She's KCRWs Guest DJ.
AL: Now moving onto a total classic, “Gimme Shelter” by The Rolling Stones. Talk about what this song means to you.
KW: I just remember always hearing it, whether at my parent’s house or going to a friend’s parent’s house, Rolling Stones were always on. “Gimme Shelter” is such an amazing song, and it's my favorite out of all the Rolling Stones, and he’s a genius in his energy and just everything.
AL: When you're working on an interior, and your designing some sort of an interior, do you envision the type of person and the type of music they're listening to? Talk about your process a little bit, creativity.
KW: When I design, there is always the client so you have to, of course, envision them in the room (laughing)
AL: (laughing) Oh yeah, that’s right the client.
KW: You envision the client in the room, but then if you do a hotel, you have to envision the type of clientele they would have, and that is always a mix. In fashion, you have to think of who your girl is, you know, so you're always envisioning that. Part of my design vocabulary is very much inspired by vintage clothing, interiors inspired by classic period furniture and thinking about how to re invent it and make it fresh, give it a second life.
AL: Up next you’ve chosen something that’s kind of off the grid, I think, its Scala and Kolacny Brothers, they're covering the song “Creep” by Radiohead with the Belgium Girls Choir. Right?
AL: Tell me about this song
KW: I love Radiohead, he's genius, love Radiohead, love all the music. Again, this goes back to the classical format -- it’s this cool modern song and it’s presented in a classical format. I still hear it and it just gives me the chills and the boys actually love it. It shows that it has this very emotional feeling. They actually do a bunch of other covers, it’s just incredibly beautiful music.
AL: How did you discover it?
KW: A lot of my friends are into music, I have a friend who is a DJ, and His name is Miles. And he's incredible. He introduced me to them and put them on one of my playlists. I called him and said ‘god who is this’, and he told me, and I just did more investigation and listened to more and more and this was one of my favorite ones.
Song: Scala and Kolacny Brothers - Creep
AL: That was Scala and Kolacny Brothers, covering the Radiohead classic creep. Kelly Wearstler, fashion and interior designer, has been our guest dj on KCRW. I want to thank you so much for coming in.
KW: Aww thank you, it was so much fun, thank you.
AL: For a complete track listing and to find these songs online go to kcrw.com/guestdjproject and subscribe to the podcast through iTunes.