The musician shares tracks that inspired her work for the brand’s Marnifesto project, including Boards of Canada, Deem Spencer, DMX, and more

Crystallmess, aka Christelle Oyiri, is a multidisciplinary artist and musician. Both a composer and DJ, Oyiri’s work spans film, radio, and performance – whether she’s creating installations for the Centre Pompidou or taking up residency at NTS. Based in Paris, she is also a member of the queer French nightlife collective NASDAT, and scored Telfar’s first ever fashion show in the city at the end of 2019, collaborating with the brand’s artistic director Babak Radboy. It was through Radboy that Oyiri met Marni’s creative director Francesco Risso a few months later, and the three began to work together on the Italian label’s Marnifesto project.

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Founded by Radboy and Francesco Risso as an alternative to the brand’s SS21 catwalk show, and in response to the global pandemic, Marnifesto brought together a roster of 48 global creatives – including Deem Spencer, Moses Sumney, Yves Tumor, Crystal Rasmussen, Sasha Lane, and Mykki Blanco. Radboy and Risso simply invited each of them to make pretty much whatever they wanted for the project, before the resulting work was spliced together in a short film Oyiri created the soundtrack for. 

Now, Marnifesto continues as a whole new way of working for the brand, with an extension of the project showcased across Dazed and AnOther. Crystallmess created a playlist (including the likes of Sonic Youth, Yves Tumor, Deem Spencer, DMX, Boards of Canada, and Coby Sey) which you can listen to below, and also shares her experience of working with Marni: from sharing memes with Francesco Risso and Babak Radboy, to creating a ‘sonic moodboard’.

How did you navigate a project like Marnifesto during the pandemic?

Crystallmess: Even though Francesco and I never met in real life, we really hit it off. We had so many great meetings over Zoom and a group chat where we shared ideas and inspiration and songs (plus memes and cute things we’d found online, of course).

How did you find working on Marnifesto?

Crystallmess: What drew me to Marnifesto was the rawness of it. It wasn’t an overproduced fashion editorial project, as it didn’t feel like the right time to be producing something like that – people were struggling through COVID-19 and with their mental health as a result. Marnifesto was focused on the daily lives of the artists who helped to create it. I also think that it took the mundane things we possibly took for granted before the pandemic, and made them magical. It was the poetics of the ordinary, which really inspired me.

How did you go about creating the sound for the Marnifesto project? 

Crystallmess: I received some monologues from the artists in the project – they were based all over the world. I really liked feeling the different moods of different cities but in the same video. Even though this project was global, the final Marnifesto film felt cohesive. It was about playing with texture and making a poem with the words I had. My creative approach is always very DIY –– I always think on the spot and am really experimental. I like to come up with what I call a ‘sonic mood board’, with many different elements.

How do you find working with fashion brands as a musician?

Crystallmess: If it’s not something that I feel connected to, I won’t do it. But with Marnifesto it was a really special project. I think we have enough elitism in the world, and making fashion more accessible by creating shows, videos, and creative projects that are available to view on Instagram or YouTube is so important. I was born and raised in France, so the idea of old school fashion and classic glamour is something familiar to me. I understand the necessity of selling a dream – I take a nuanced stance with it. But I think it’s so important to have healthy representation in fashion. This was not something that was liberating for me, ever, because I’m Black and-plus size. So I will always push for a more democratic vision for fashion. I think about the teenage me, and Marnifesto is something that I would have liked to see, instead of glossy images that don’t speak to me in the same way. 

Would you like to keep working with Marni and its Marnifesto project going forward? 

Crystallmess: Of course. For me, it’s important to work with a brand that gives me enough artistic freedom. Marnifesto did that. Communication between me, Francesco, and Babak is always great and they always push my own creative practice. Marnifesto really fostered my imagination. 

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