#carcelpeople - Mimi Xu
Carcel becomes immersed in Mimi Xu's eclectic and inspiring world of sounds. Photos by Tine Bek.
How did you grow up?
Traveled a lot with my parents as an only child and lived in Paris, Shanghai & Copenhagen, Sydney and back to Paris and currently in London.
How did you get to where you are today?
My father Albert Xu is a Paris based acoustic architect which means his job is to design spaces within a musical context. In my early childhood, he was then collaborating with French composer Pierre Boulez at IRCAM (French institute for science about music and sound and avant-garde electro-acoustical art music) and I was force-fed few years of classical and “musique concrète” concerts twice a week. It was absolute hell for 5-year-old. I was not allowed to fall asleep in case I started snoring. To stay awake I had to use my imagination with my eyes wide open…
I train myself to create visuals in my head according to the music I was listening to; tension and anxiety scenes when it’s atonal and note clashes, dramatic landscapes for Beethoven and folk tales for Bartók for example. It created a form of synesthesia in me. My audio cortex would stimulate my visual cortex and vis versa. I wasn’t particularly into Iannis Xenakis or Pierre Schaeffer then but I learned to appreciate “strange” compositions and weird sounds at a young age.
All these became handy when I compose music to a film. I just finished my first feature score and enjoyed hugely translating narratives and emotions into music. Back then my father also brainwashed me about how sounds should resonate in a physical space and all the science behind it. I became a young acoustic snob. It’s all out of the window these days considering my ears have been unsensitised due to years of hardcore raving, standing next to loudspeakers or DJ monitors popping badly. Lucky if I still got any brain cells left.
What's your most important turning point?
After a childhood rebelling against my music training, I decided to study journalism in political science in Paris but ended up as a fashion editor & journalist in Sydney Australia (Oyster magazine) straight after my graduation. I got bored very quickly but started to date a boy who had an amazing taste in music and a huge collection of vinyls at home. He also had a music label. I learned to DJ at home with his vinyl and started to work with him.
That was a turning point for me to go back to music and continue what I started. Then I moved back to Europe and dedicate myself fully to music and performance sound art.
What's your relation to Carcel?
I believe fashion needs to wake up from its own bubble, slow down on encouraging continuous consumption and participate actively in societal changes. When I found out about Carcel’s story, I was immediately attracted to their philosophy. I love the idea of how each garment was made and the brand doesn’t participate in mass production cycle and has a message of helping each other.
What are your hopes for the future?
The world we live in is crying out for more empathy and a new paradigm. As a composer, producer, DJ, sound artist, I am hoping I can use my work to help others and participate in change.
Hear more of Mimi's world here
Photography by Tine Bek