The Cool-Girl Composer Bringing Sound—and Style—to Fashion Film

The Cool-Girl Composer Bringing Sound—and Style—to Fashion Film
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As far as band names go, Drum and Lace is a pretty damn good one—clever without being roll-your-eyes punny; evocative of an idea (music and fashion) without beating you over the head with it.

But Drum and Lace isn’t a band—well, not exactly.

Sofia Hultquist chose the name as an alter ego of sorts, a means to separate her passion for working with emerging fashion designers on independent creative projects from her career as a traditional composer.

Two and a half years ago, she was working in a field called audio branding as a sound designer, when she saw an opportunity to break out on her own. “I realized that a lot of fashion content didn’t have very good music,” she says over the phone from her home in Los Angeles, “and I would hear from friends that were emerging designers that they would have such a hard time finding music that they could use that was tailored and worked with their visuals and wasn’t super cheesy.”

So she founded Drum and Lace and started taking on projects with brands such as the Palatines, Tanya Taylor, and À Moi, composing original music to accompany runway shows, presentations, events, and short films, and in the process, carving out a niche in an underserved field. Many of her collaborators are creatives she’s connected with on Instagram (where I first stumbled across her profile), though word of mouth and Google have also led brands to her work.

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Nowadays, Hultquist reserves her given name for gigs like the (rather major) one she just completed: composing an original score for “The First Monday in May,” the new documentary about the making of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 2015 “China: Through the Looking Glass” exhibition, which she collaborated on with her husband, composer Ian Hultquist.

Working with media like film and fashion has always been a natural fit, she says. A visual person by nature, she likes to start with fabric swatches, videos, photos, sketches, or the references and moodboard the designer is working from (“That’s kind of the ideal, because it’s a little bit more free—I get to write off of a feeling and tap into that.”) She takes inspiration from colors, textures, and silhouettes, translating the visual cues into sound.

“It varies day to day,” she explains, “but the process, as simple as it sounds, is a matter of sitting down at my keyboard with a blank session in my music software and starting from there somehow.”

Hultquist was born and raised in Florence, Italy, and the city’s appreciation for craftsmanship and timeless, long-lasting design has shaped her fashion ethos to this day. She’s passionate about sustainability and ethically made clothing and seeks out projects with designers that align with her ideals, whether through supply-chain transparency or a commitment to made-in-the-USA products.

It wasn’t until she moved to the States to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston that she realized this was even a radical proposition. “I grew up in a city where the tailor or the shoemaker, all these trades, were things that I grew up seeing,” she recalls. “It wasn’t until I was an adult and living on my own, and I was like, ‘Wait, you’re just going to throw your shoes away? Why don’t you get them fixed? They have, like, another thousand miles in them.’ Or knowing how to sew and patch things up rather than throwing them away—that’s always been a part of my life, I just didn’t realize it until fairly recently.”

And while she’s happy to call Los Angeles her home now (the vintage scene, she says, is amazing), “I think the thing that I miss the most is the intoxicating smell of leather and fabric walking around town. My friends always make fun of me for this, but if they get a new bag, the first thing I do is smell it.”

When it comes to her style, she has a composer’s sensibility, layering pieces into artful collages of prints, colors, and textures, an aesthetic that’s right at home on the West Coast. Of the relationship between getting dressed and her work, she says, “There are definitely a lot of the same considerations—you have to make things work together, but you also want to do something that’s unexpected.”

That said, when it comes to actually sitting down in her studio, comfort is the main consideration, since she has to be able to climb under her desk, plug and unplug cables, work with equipment, and put her feet up (major key). For that, she says, jumpsuits have become her new best friend.

After all, sometimes—in fashion and in music—there’s nothing quite like keeping it simple.

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