Why We Design for Independent Music

September 1st, 2013

Written by Unraveled Founder, Farida Amar.

Boston, MA — Here at Unraveled we are dressing people who are passionate about supporting independent music. We are independent designers, who started to love music for personal reasons and have found the value of hunting down and discovering less well-known music as a way to aid in our creative processes. We play music while we work, and sorry – but the radio just doesn’t cut it. What you hear on the radio and on television is only a few songs, usually without much variety, selected to play on repeat for a short amount of time before they are replaced by another collection of a few songs which are cursed to the same fate. And for people who use music as a motivational source of power through long days and nights of thinking and creating, it’s simply not enough. Therefore, it was a functional need that we begin to explore. We search for music like we search for different sizes of pencils and paintbrushes – for us, it is a tool. Understanding music as material is a special kind of approach to sound. There is a function, a need. It has the ability to summon ideas in the first place, to help us expand and contract the scope of an idea’s design, and sometimes it is all we have to help us get through the creative blocks. And so – why would we not pay attention to it?

Unraveled is a direct visualization of our personal relationships to music. It is a unique opportunity to design something for the music we’ve found that is already helping us in so many ways. It is an effort to reciprocate. In this way, the music itself becomes the idea. And when the design is complete, it feels good to be able to put it on other people because their decision to wear our work is a display of solidarity. They are making a public statement that they love independent music (and design) enough to put it on their own body and carry it around for a day. This is, in many ways, more rewarding than posting something online or publishing something in the traditional and soon to be obsolete media formats (television, magazines, billboards) or making something temporary such as a flyer for an event. Those things are okay, but, well… t-shirts are just better.

Unraveled chose to make t-shirts because they are simple. Anyone can wear a t-shirt and a t-shirt goes with pretty much anything else you might already have in your closet. It’s a smart choice because it acts as a blank canvas. It is not style specific and it is not limited by trend. The only place where t-shirts would actually be offensive is in couture culture which is fundamentally an exception to every kind of rule anyway, and it’s safe to assume no one walks around in couture on a daily basis. No one.

The accessibility and flexibility of the standard t-shirt takes the focus off fashion and puts it on the design itself and the music it represents. We love that because every good designer knows, being able to say what you are trying to say by using as few elements as possible is ideal. The world is FULL of stuff, so in many ways creating is a form of subtraction. Seeing anything at all means actively choosing not to see a million other things at that exact moment. This direct transfer of an idea, packaged without any unnecessary bullshit, is hard to come by these days. As Unraveled Designer Zachary D. Milder explains about his creative process, “It starts with images, settings, colors, atmospheres, mood, and I sharpen and filter all that until an action emerges, from there I keep editing until all the elements are in sync, the story is complete and there are not any tangents.”

These shirts are not for people who do as they’re told by the mass media. Listen to this, wear this, buy this, go to this show, talk about this, etc. These shirts are for the hunters and gatherers of culture, the people scouring for the secrets, the new, the different. They’re for people who get a natural high from being able to share something with a friend who has never heard of it before. It’s not just our musicians and designers who are in process, it is also the listeners and viewers who wear our clothes. They are in process too. They are paying attention to everything, filtering out most of it, and are actively passionate and loyal to the things that are left.

Featured image (above) of Jessica Jarva wearing the Unraveled Original for The Navidson Record while deep in discussion about her recent work with visual art, her band, her job at a local audio repair shop, the meaning of life and small rabbits.

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