Meet Plastikman, the musical mastermind behind Prada’s soundtracks

“The themes for the Prada FW21 Menswear show drove me deep into my Plastikman psyche, exploring feelings of introversion and isolation, the quest of finding yourself and forming inner strength and resilience.”

Richie Hawtin, perhaps better known as Plastikman, is a technological vanguard whose musical works have enamored the fashion world including the legendary, Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons. Hawtin harmonized a sensational soundtrack for Prada in September 2020 for the first online-only Fashion Week in Milan. Once again, Hawtin teams up with the renowned fashion house for its latest presentation, synthesizing sound and space for a spectacular collaboration of sonic wonder.

What does Prada sound like?

I’m not sure if it’s a specific sound, maybe more the lack of sound. My interpretation is that the soundtrack to Prada must include space, allowing the music and sounds to breathe in a nearly architectural space, leaving room for the frequencies and clothes to coexist in the same landscape. Some might call this a type of minimalism where I chose to think more about music in the small details that take away from the sound of silence. I believe that this aesthetic and approach is somehow connected to the discipline that you find in the detailing of all Prada collections.

How do you work to match each collection’s aesthetic with your music?

There has been a lot of direct discussion between Raf and I, and indirectly of course with Miuccia, in the themes that they are considering with each collection. These themes, the looks and actual feeling that I get from the discussions are what give me a direction for the sounds and flow of the music. It’s a very collaborative effort since we go through many iterations of ideas as the collection and show are being developed, it actually all feels very much hand in hand, and I believe this is why the outcome feels very cohesive from beginning to end.

How have/will technological advances in music production affect the music you are making?

Actually that’s interesting since for most of my career the music I made was always a “live” capture of me “playing” my machines/instruments and trying to leave things to chance as much as possible. With this collaboration I try to keep the writing process as fast and fluid as possible and do quick live recordings and then send to Miuccia and Raf. This works well with the initial idea and capturing the human feeling of the songs but then it’s only by bringing everything into a very modern computer setup where I have the ability to get really into the details of sounds and arrangement in order to make sure there’s a perfect connection to the final filmed content.

How has the pandemic reshaped the music industry? Have there been any specific acts, technological adaptations, songs, etc. that have stuck out for you?

I think the pandemic has shown that music industries tendency to lean on touring as the main income stream for artists is a dangerously fragile eco-system. The industry needs to look at new ways to support the artists and musicians in order to sustain creativity and longevity. The old paradigm of constant touring is unhealthy for both the planet and artists involved. The rise of direct artist to fan relationships is seen a big growth during the pandemic with platforms like Patreon coming in to forge strong economic and creative eco-systems. With the final realization that streaming is not an effective monetization source for many artists, the industry needs to learn quickly on how to bring back value to music.

To you, what has this period in history “sounded like?” What sounds or styles of music do you think people will always associate with 2020/2021?

For me personally it’s been a time to take a step back from the constant sound of the club and to reflect on other musical aspirations. I think if anything, the pandemic has been a quiet time, of forced introversion, which has forced a lot of musicians to think in longer terms. I think the sound track of 2022 and beyond will be where we finally hear what 20/21 allowed us all to develop.

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