in georgia music magazine.
Musicians are not a bunch known for their meticulous style. A Springsteen headband here, a splash of ink there — few could be mistaken for Tim Gunn protégés. But for Andrew Heaton and Marie Davon of Athens husband-and-wife electropop duo Powerkompany, fashion plays an important role in the overall musical experience.
After meeting as scientists at the University of Georgia in 2005 — she was studying biochemistry, he was pursuing a postdoctoral degree in genetics — they fell in love. Both were musicians, Davon playing fiddle and singing in Venice Is Sinking and Heaton singing and fiddling for Packway Handle Band. In 2011, they formed Powerkompany, a project through which they’re now exploring another shared interest — fashion.
“I’ve been interested in fashion mainly because it’s an extra level of a way to express how you’re feeling,” Davon says.
Powerkompany’s music has been intertwined with fashion from the start. Last fall, the night before the release show for their debut EP, Comfort, Davon and Heaton held a listening party in partnership with Athens Fashion Collective. They partnered with AFC again in the spring, using their new full-length album, Pulse, as the background for the collective’s spring show.
“What the thing in the spring turned into, it was actually more of a performance,” Davon says. “The models weren’t modeling. They were dancing.”
Now, Powerkompany are part of a group of people working to bring together Georgia’s fashion community, which centers around SCAD’s fashion program, and our state’s rich reserve of musicians. Davon headed down to Savannah with Athens Fashion Collective’s Maggie Benoit in May for SCAD’s spring fashion show to put out some feelers.
“When we went to the fashion show, I think the production could have been better on the music end. Maggie and I talk a lot about creating a production, a full artistic experience, and music is a big part of that,” Davon says.
Heaton agrees, “Not waiting until an hour before and saying, ‘Oh, does anybody have an iPod here?!’”
“It’s figuring out what kind of emotion you want to portray,” Davon continues. “We’re trying to create a whole show with music, fashion and all that. You can have hot models walking down the runway to bland music and it doesn’t hit you. But if you have the right music, it can take you off guard, make you think, ‘I want that. I wanna be that. I wanna be a part of that.’”
Since then, Davon has reached out to Savannah designers like Mamie Ruth’s Emily Bargeron and menswear designer Jessica Kopp to outfit Powerkompany for shows, with the hope of developing a regional community of fashion designers and musicians who can work together to create multimedia productions. She and Heaton arrive at our interview at Transmetropolitan in downtown Athens wearing their designs, with Davon in a slinky corset top from Mamie Ruth and Heaton in Kopp’s screenprinted t-shirt and classic, casual slacks. Over pies and pints, Heaton explains that good garb is a matter of professional pride.
“I’ve been in band after band where everybody has, to their own disadvantage, really disregarded any attempts to at least look appropriate. As if you were committing a major artistic fraud to suggest that you might wear anything different onstage than what you’d wear to go get gas and a Coke. […] Whatever the thing you’re trying to do, there’s something you can do to get your idea across that involves what you’re wearing.”
In Powerkompany, the search for the sartorial element starts with Marie, who favors tight-fitting dresses that help put her in mind of the sexy and sensual energy in the duo’s music. From there, “I usually take the color palate and Andrew picks something out, and I boycott it or not.”
A recent performance found Davon in a brief, lustrous, sapphire blue number, accompanied by Heaton in a three-piece suit. Davon’s plaintive soprano floated over her blooping synth and Heaton’s acoustic strumming and violin whorls, filling the room with their moody, dreamy pop. The music was ethereal and lovely, their playing tight and professional. And, in a town populated with musicians in worn-in jeans and worn-out Converse, it was a nice surprise to catch a show from a band that looks as good as they sound.