A-JANE’s creative director Alice Jane discusses her unexpected transition from music to fashion. - By Mughni Che Di
If you are an avid fan of A-JANE and have been following its journey since its inception in 2016, you would have known by now that Neue Musik (New Music) plays an integral role in the design process for every collection that has been produced by the label. In order to gain a better insight into the world of A-JANE, we spoke to the brand’s founder and creative director Alice Jane as she talks about how she went from being a musician to a fashion composer…
In your own words, describe Neue Musik…
For those who are unfamiliar with Neue Musik (also known as Gegenwartsmusik), it is a musical movement that started in Europe since the early 1900s. It embraces the idea of exploration or experimentation of new sounds, noises, forms, notations, techniques or interpretations of music that breaks the traditional paradigms.
Neue Musik is atonal, which means the music piece doesn’t have a proper and traditional key signature which is a requirement of classical composition techniques, forms and structures. It is radical. Just listen to it. It empowers human’s freedom of thought, it challenges the traditional aesthetic and perception of music because of its very abstract sounds.
Talk to us about your journey through music…
Music has always been a huge part of my life. I started my formal music education at the tender age of four and then proceeded to play music for our church from the age of nine to seventeen.
Upon graduating from high school, I studied sound engineering at Digital Music Studio and music foundation at Yamaha Music School where I played the Electone (electric organ) and piano. However, I was dissatisfied with my grades and what I was learning there and I started to yearn for something that could stimulate my hunger for music.
I then challenged myself to audition for a position at a music university in Europe where I receive an offer to study at Freiburg University of Music in Germany. It was the start of my love story with Neue Musik Composition.
What was some of the main takeaways from living/studying music abroad?
There is a huge art and music culture in Europe. There is always something new to discover. I remember visiting art museums and galleries, and attending New Music performances almost every weekend. It was an experience and definitely helped fuel my curious mind.
Your favourite composers/musicians…
These aren’t household names but they truly are unique and innovative, and for me, that makes them special.
What made you pursue fashion?
I never really set out to pursue fashion because I was always focused on music; the turning point was when I started freelancing as a personal stylist during my time in Germany. That was when I shifted my focus from music to fashion.
My love for fashion grew even more when my husband and I moved to America. I started to invest my time to learn about the world of fashion— from fashion history, craftmanship, patterns and signatures— the more I knew, the more it ignited my passion for fashion.
Throughout my career as a personal stylist, whenever I stumbled upon designs that I was not satisfied with, I’d think of how I can make it better. This led to me start sketching my own designs and it was so liberating! It was truly a lightbulb moment for me which eventually led to my career as a fashion designer or as I like to refer to myself as a fashion composer. It’s been an unexpected journey, but also most rewarding.
How do you incorporate music nuances into your designs?
To me, music and fashion are both forms of art, both involves similar creative thought processes but expressed in different mediums. I focus on concepts that I have learned from Neue Musik: minimal, microtonal, noise, notation, improvisation, dissonance crashing tones, no repetition in music and apply it to my designs. If you observe and examine my fashion pieces closely, you will find these elements re-interpretated into my fashion.
I treat my designs as a music composition. I don’t just design, I compose them. I describe my designs as new form of fashion or as I like to call it, New Fashion. I enjoy being a Fashion Composer because it allows me to manipulate my music concepts and philosophy into fashion pieces which I believe is a unique combination of different art forms.