Sunday 21 February 2016

PC music: pop, parody or just pure genius?

the beauty of PC music is that nobody is quite sure what it actually is, or what it represents, and if that was what its founder AG cook was aiming for, he certainly succeeded. created in 2013 by a group of london-based visual artists, musicians and more, PC music is a record label that hasn’t actually signed any artists. those on the roster include danny l harle, lipgloss twins and hannah diamond, the latter of which was recently featured in i-d magazine and has collaborated with watch brand baby g. who doesn’t remember owning, or lusting after, one of those in the late 90s/early 2000s?

a quick look at hannah diamond's video for hi, released last november, shows she is big on nostalgia, particularly for the early 2000s - everything from her bright pink bedroom to the air max trainers and diamant√© encrusted nails. her music too, along with all the other artists on the label, is reminiscent of those clubland compilation CDs teenagers all over the country used to listen to, most likely before downing a litre or two of frosty jacks before a big night out down at the park. a prime example of this is the track beautiful by AG cook himself, reminiscent of dance acts such as special d and ultrabeat. a listen to any of the clubland compilations reveals many similarities, from the high pitched female vocals to the thumping bass lines. for those reasons alone, PC music could potentially back all sorts of potentially unpleasant memories for all the teens that have now (hopefully) grown out of these antics. nevertheless, there’s something incredibly new and fresh about this collective’s sound.

perhaps it's because, as sam wolfson of the guardian said, they are taking "the most critically ridiculed music from the past decade and packaging it as the future". as the cost of living continues to increase and our day to day lives become ever more stressful, this music harks back to simpler times, and no matter how embarrassing our clothes and hairstyles were, it will hold many memories for those who were a part of the scene. what PC music do though, is propel it into the future. take QT, a "made-up pop singer sent from an alternate planet to promote a fictional energy drink of the same name", according to i-d magazine. the guardian describes her as "halfway between a product and a prank", and it’s certainly hard to ascertain what exactly she, or rather her producers, is trying to get across. her track, hey QT, was produced by AG cook and SOPHIE (the stage name of samuel long), and so was her image. QT is first and foremost a product designer and is developing her own energy drink, the very one being promoted in her music video. it’s this blurring of the imaginary and reality that has me, and many others intrigued by PC music. don’t be fooled though, because SOPHIE takes his craft incredibly seriously. “my primary concern is: what’s the most sonically exciting thing i can imagine? then i try to make that,” he said.

image is everything, and the inspiration for said image comes from “kawaii” (meaning “cute” in japanese) culture. hannah diamond’s background is actually in image making and retouching, and she shot pop starlet charli XCX’s recent campaign for impulse. again, a blurring of this super polished, hyper-reality and the real world of music. “i'm more concerned with using the images as a hyper real communication companion for the music, as opposed to trying to make myself shiny for the sake of it!” says diamond of her image.   

it’s also interesting to look at what this image says about the male-dominated, macho world of dance and house music, the latter of which has seen a staggeringly large revival in the last year or two. “instead of fetishising bass, deep tans and the FHM pin-ups who adorn videos on youtube channel majestic casual, PC music pays homage to a more innocent teen-girl culture,” says lanre bakare. both diamond and label mate GFOTY (that’s girlfriend of the year to you and me) have expressed how much creative freedom they, and other female artists on the label, have, with diamond declaring, “i honestly can't think of a label where female artists have so much creative control over their representation, tbh!

so if we are really living in a time where "anything goes", PC music should be the biggest testament to this. but opinions are still divided about the london-based collective and whether they really are the next big thing in music, or technology or fashion. a commenter on a guardian article described them as a blend of ”j-pop, 90's chart club music, hyper produced europop weirdness and carly rae jepsen” and as far as i’m concerned, this can only be a good thing, though whether the masses will agree remains to be seen.

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