This week’s post is very near and dear to my heart. Jillian Rabe is not only on OUii|DISTRICT’s executive team, but she also happens to be my mentor and biggest role model. I had the chance to pick her beautifully talented brain and we came up with a playlist that features some of the songs that have been the most inspiring to her so far in her career.
Greetings friends. Thanks for swinging by and checking out my most recent ‘playlist,’ project. More often than not, my playlists are created for a specific fashion show, or designer collection – but this playlist was actually inspired by my journey behind the curtain of production. From my early childhood years of choreographing dances & plays, to today’s working life as a small business owner, this particular playlist is quite literally the story of my career in the form of a select number of musical influences.
These tracks are put in the chronological order in which I have experienced them, and the story they tell accordingly – not necessarily the order in which they were released. I invite you to plug in your speakers, and play them loud with me.
London Philharmonic Orchestra – Carmina Burana: O Fortuna (Jillian age 8)
Drama is important. Not negative, hurtful, petty drama – but the drama and emotion of a STORY. A vision, an emotion, a journey…One of my favorite components about the world of production is that you have the opportunity to take your audience on a new and impactful journey. My first knowledge of such a presentation existing came from Michael Jackson. It was the first time in my life that I remember FEELING a sense of story through music. And so I open with Carmina Burana: O Fortuna – the track used for his introduction during the Dangerous Tour. This can be most readily seen/heard as the opening video (one of my still favorite and most emotive videos ever seen to date), on Michael Jackson’s HIStory DVD.
The Cure – Purple Haze (Jillian age 10)
The first time I experienced the notion of watching other people feel “cool” was a result of the Jimi Hendrix Tribute album, Stone Free, which came out in 1993. I will always remember what it felt like watching the room when Purple Haze by The Cure came on, and the energy just…changed. When this song played, everyone stood up a little taller, walked a little more confidently, and turned the volume UP. It was the first time I saw the energy of a room change based on the music being played, and it ALWAYS happened when this song came on. Music can change everything in a single instant. It turns people up, and on – and this song was my first memory experiencing that understanding.
Everclear – Local God (Jillian age 13)
As my musical experiences developed, stemming from a long history of rock, classic rock, and classical, I made my own way into the world of soundtracks, and the Romeo and Juliet Soundtrack taught me a lot about the next chapter of my own existence as an angsty teen. When I listened to this soundtrack, a whole new set of visceral reactions came over me. (Garbage’s #1 Crush, forever – please and thank you.) This next song was a story to me, about being out with your friends, experiencing rebellion, and feeling empowered by just doing what you want- all of which I hadn’t really experienced in my own life yet. This song was also the first time I had heard “Fuck” used in song lyrics with a real sense of confidence and disregard for anyone else’s opinion. I still can’t quite pinpoint the exact emotion that gave me, except just really feeling for the first time that I hoped someday I would feel that infinite.
Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley – Welcome to Jamrock (Jillian age 20)
Soon after, cell phones became a thing – and my time in high school was spent realizing my innate drive toward coordinating parties and being the central hub for curating my friends’ weekend entertainment plans – whether we were attending house parties, destination events, live shows, or those old-school Portland raves (forever in my heart nwtekno.com!). By junior year of college, a good chunk of time with friends was still spent being totally obsessed with live music, getting pushed around in the mosh pits, and going to any and all venues we could to check out the scene. One of the most impactful shows during this time was driving from Corvallis down to Eugene with a carload of buddies to see Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley. I just remember dancing my face off in the middle of the crowd and feeling in that moment – like I was part of a community that came alive because of the show.
Chang Loo – All the Stars in The Sky (Jillian age 25)
After graduating college I worked corporate for 1.5 years and then left to start exploring life as an independent contractor. I had dreamt up a national tour project on my first blog, that ending up leading to an international scope, and taking me to China in efforts to showcase Portland designer fashion to a global audience. I worked on this project for two years, and it taught immediate perspective on production on a mass scale. This next track is a remixed song that was part of the playlist I used in my first runway production during this time period. Special thanks to Yi-Jou [Nova] Chou, and her mother Feng Yang Pagliassotti for translating these lyrics for me: A story of “all the stars on the sky very shining,” and trying to find your heart. Perfectly fitting for this chapter of my life, when I was looking for something in the universe, and knowing it was there, but not quite finding it yet.
Yoav – Live (Jillian age 27)
As my projects developed, so did the overwhelming proof that the only way to make progress was to take risks. One such risk was evaluating a new business model for making fashion show productions a viable option for independent designer labels. My first project that utilized this model was a collaboration with fashion brand Isaac Hers. Developing a language and relationship between designer and producer, my first solo designer show for Isaac Hers was called “Goldstruck.” One of the artists whose music was an inspiration for me at this time was Yoav, a solo musician whose songs stuck with me and were present along this awesome ride. This style of premium runway experience for independent lines was the first of many of its kind in my career.
Broncho – Try Me Out Sometime (Jillian age 28)
Speaking of risks, the most landmark gigs are those that push your limits and show you, just as much as you show the world, what you’re capable of. One such project was getting booked by LMP to create custom bottle art from recycled vitaminwater bottles. My sister was the Creative Director for the art project, as we made a large scale mixtape and boom box, with the collective art piece name, “Just Push Play.” It was a massive undertaking that took Megan and I across the country on tour with their team, from Portland > L.A. > Chicago > Portland > Seattle and then to New York (for my first time!) Broncho was a band I was introduced to that summer by a dear friend, and this song is basically the anthem that gave Megan and I an extra boost along the way. It served as the reminder to never give up, push play, and say, YES!
Austra -Beat and the Pulse (Jillian age 30)
Applying all that I had learned with runways and production for independent labels came another show that will forever be at the top of my list when it came to realizing the value of comfort. At this time, it was the experience of loving and intentionally inviting the audience to be engaged by being a little…uncomfortable. The Spring/Summer ’14 fashion presentation for REIF, taught me about the value in grabbing your audiences’ attention and taking them on a journey that they hadn’t yet experienced. For the radical 90’s inspired collection by REIF, we structured the show with each model having a different activity to do on stage, and then we had them just…stand there. Each one for an unexpectedly long time, as they slowly accumulated on stage into one big group for a final visual presentation that left the audience with significantly more time with the garments and…their thoughts during the experience. The beat and the pulse of this show will live on as one of my favorite show memories, forever.
ZHU – Faded (Jillian age 30)
As I have grown as both a business owner and an individual outside of my working life, sometimes you just need a song for your let-loose moments of passion. This song is exactly that to me – a song about the raw, most inner core parts of saying & being just what you’re thinking in the moment. From party and intimacy, to just not giving a f*ck, and doing what you want to do, or saying what you want to say – this song encapsulates all of that for me. Taking the time to give back to yourself, and just let go.
Aesop Rock – No Regrets (Jillian age 31)
When a song is meant for you, you know as soon as you hear and feel it. Lots of people have already heard of this last song, but this track was a more recent find for me. This song was an unexpected gift to my life and can serve for EVERYONE as a reminder of how life can be looked at and lived. Live passionately, and genuinely, and do what you know you can do! And when you’re done, and ready to close a chapter….it’s about knowing when to acknowledge its completion, and being confident…in being finished.
Heard it before? Play it again. Never heard of it? Play it on repeat, and listen closely.
Thank you all for hanging out with me today and taking a listen and read on this unconventional playlist. I am so excited for the next chapter of experiences to come for all of us! And what new, or past, songs they will all bring. Near or far, I encourage and empower each of you to have faith in knowing what you’re capable of, listening to your core intuitions…and going for it.”
If this playlist doesn’t make you want to go out and slay this week, then I don’t know what will. Happy Monday all!
For more information on Jillian Rabe, and to keep in the loop on her most current projects and happenings: