PC Music

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PC Music
PC Music logo.png
Founded June 2013
Founder A. G. Cook
Genre
Country of origin United Kingdom
Location London
Official website pcmusic.info

PC Music is a record label and art collective based in London and run by producer A. G. Cook.[1] It was founded and made its first song available on SoundCloud in 2013.[2] The label is known for its surreal or exaggerated take on pop music, often featuring pitch-shifted, feminine vocals and bright, synthetic textures.[3] Artists on its roster include Hannah Diamond, Life Sim, and Danny L Harle.

PC Music has been characterized as embracing the aesthetics of advertising, consumerism, and corporate branding.[3] Its artists have often devised personas often inspired by cyberculture.[4] The label has inspired both praise and criticism from journalists, and has been called "polarizing."[5]

Background[edit]

The label functions as a collective in which acts frequently collaborate with each other.[1] Many of the acts are aliases, obscuring the identities and number of artists on the label.[6] Early on, the label kept tight control over its branding and limited its interaction with journalists,[7] and as its profile grew, Cook declined to engage with press, described as a sort of Berry Gordy figure within the group.[8] Vice magazine said that PC Music's acts are best understood not as living people but as "meticulously planned and considered long-running art pieces…living installations who put out music."[9] Cook mentioned preference for "recording people who don't normally make music and treating them as if they're a major label artist."[10] Rather than engaging in extended promotional campaigns, the label continually announces new acts.[1] Each develops a persona that is conveyed through Internet slang and cartoon imagery.[4]

History[edit]

Cook had previously worked on Gamsonite, a "pseudo-label" and blog collecting his early collaborations, among other projects while studying music at Goldsmiths, University of London.[11] He founded PC Music in August 2013, as a way of embracing an A&R role.[10] Within a year the label had published forty songs on SoundCloud where, as of September 2014, some of its songs had accumulated over 100,000 listens.[2][4] It has not released a physical single,[2] and its first paid download did not come until the November 2014 release of Hannah Diamond's "Every Night".[12] QT's "Hey QT" single was also released in 2014, on XL Recordings, with production from Cook and PC Music-affiliate Sophie.[13]

In March 2015, the label appeared in the United States for the first time at a South by Southwest showcase.[14] Cook described it as a "rebirth moment" for the group, moving toward functioning as a real record label.[15] Shortly after, they released their first official compilation album, titled PC Music Volume 1.[16] On 8 May 2015, PC Music artists performed at BRIC House in Brooklyn, New York as part of the Red Bull Music Academy Festival, to premiere Pop Cube, "a multimedia reality network".[17]

Promotional artwork for Kane West's Western Beats EP. The use of Comic Sans alludes to the typography of early web sites.[18]

On 21 October 2015, the label announced on Facebook a partnership with major record label Columbia Records. The first release through this partnership was an EP from Danny L Harle.[19] In December 2015 PC Music released the single "Only You", a collaboration between A. G. Cook and the Chinese pop star Chris Lee, with a music video directed by Kinga Burza.[20]

On 18 November 2016, PC Music released Volume 2, a compilation featuring most of the label's roster. A review in The Guardian praised it for being "more beautiful and progressive than ever before" and proof that "Cook and his gang are the cleverest, most thoughtful people in British pop".[21]

On 16 February 2018, PC Music released a limited dual-vinyl compilation of both PC Music Volume 1 and PC Music Volume 2.[22]

A promotional website for Sup by Lil Data, which incorporates influences of net art.

Sound and influences[edit]

The label has released music with a consistent sound that Clive Martin, writing for Vice, described as "A playful composite of disregarded sounds and genres".[1] Lanre Bakare, writing for The Guardian, identified the music's elements as "the huge synth blasts favoured by Eurodance chart-botherers such as Cascada, grime's sub-bass, and happy hardcore's high-pitched vocal range".[7] The styles and influences of music incorporated include bubblegum dance, Balearic trance, wonky and electro house. Cook cites Korean & Japanese pop music and gyaru culture, as well as the production work of Max Martin and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.[10] His production involves layering discordant sounds on top of each other to produce chaotic mixes,[10] similar to the techniques used in black MIDI music.[6] Abrupt shifts in timbre and rhythm are used to create multiple perspectives of a personality.[23] Cook also indirectly cites American musician Conlon Nancarrow as a source of inspiration in the PC Music Pop Cube Trailer 1[24]

PC Music's songwriting often deals with consumerism as a theme. In their take on haul videos,[25] Lipgloss Twins include references to fashion and makeup brands.[26] Vocals on the label's mix for DIS Magazine reflect various forms of marketing: producer ID tags, film trailers, and product placement for a sponsor.[6][26] The label brings in inexperienced singers to record its songs.[11] It thoroughly processes the vocals, shifting the pitch upward or chopping it to use as a rhythmic element.[10][6] These distortions create a post-ironic representation of consumerism, money, and sex.[27]

PC Music's aesthetic combines elements of cuteness, camp, and kawaii,[1][7][26] though often, as music critic Maurice Marion points out for Rare Candy, with a sinister, Lynchian undertone achieved by dissonant inversions and caustic harmonization.[28] Critics likened the label to Ryan Trecartin in its irregular pacing, "feminine appropriation", and valley girl slang.[29] The use of pitch shifting, image manipulation, and costumes may also serve as a form of drag.[18] This blurs the distinctions between binary genders and allows male artists to mask their identities.[29][30] In a piece for Vice, Ryan Bassil suggested that PC Music's style allows for a more candid expression of emotions.[4]

The label has been embraced as a more feminine response to dance music subculture.[1][7] The availability of music software has allowed for the spread of high-production dance music by independent musicians, particularly on SoundCloud. PC Music often exaggerates the homogenized, high-fidelity aesthetics of these songs.[29] Vogue deputy editor Alex Frank commented that the overt manipulation of cultural references showcased a cynical sense of humour, creating an insular approach to making dance music during a period of house revival.[30]

Artists[edit]

Artists with at least one solo release on the label
Artists with only collaborations on the label
Artists with only remixes on the label
  • Clark
  • et aliae
  • Faber Kastell
Vocalists and other featured artists on the label
Artists with at least one remixed release on the label
Other artists on the label

Reception[edit]

As PC Music became more prominent in 2014, the reaction to it was often described as "divisive".[7][9] Joe Moynihan, writing in Fact, remarked that "PC Music have, in just over a year, released some of the most compelling pop music in recent memory." The label's feminine aesthetic has been criticized as disingenuous or appropriative.[6][43] The distortions in its music can fall into the uncanny valley and have an alienating effect on listeners.[34] Some critics have found its high-tempo trance sound artless or aggravating.[6]

PC Music received accolades in several 2014 year-end summaries. Dazed included A. G. Cook at number 12 in their "Dazed 100";[44] Fact named PC Music the best label of 2014;[45] The Huffington Post included PC Music at number 3 in their "Underrated Albums - 2014";[46] Resident Advisor included PC Music at number 4 in their "Top Labels of The Year" in 2014;[47] and Tiny Mix Tapes included it in their "Favorite 15 Labels of 2014".[48] Spin magazine named PC Music its "Trend of the Year" for 2014.[49]

Live shows[edit]

PC Music have produced a number of label focused showcases since their inception. After a brief showcase at SXSW in 2015, on 8 May 2015, PC Music launched a "multimedia reality network" called 'Pop Cube'. An event in conjunction with the network was created and became part of the Red Bull Music Academy Festival in New York, which quickly sold out.[50] In May 2016, PC Music presented 'Pop Cosmos' at the Scala in London, featuring Danny L Harle, Hannah Diamond, GFOTY, A. G. Cook, Felicita, EasyFun and Spinee.[51] In July 2016 PC Music held a new one-off event called 'Pop City' at Create in Los Angeles. As well as scheduled performances from PC Music performers, the show featured guests, including Carly Rae Jepsen, Charli XCX, and QT.[52] On the 405 webzine, PC Music’s live shows have been described as being surrounded by a care-less authentic aura and have been recognised for their "forward-thinking fearlessness to push pop music into new and daring areas".[53]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Martin, Clive (12 September 2014). "PC Music: Are They Really the Worst Thing Ever to Happen to Dance Music?". Vice. Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Jones, Charlie Robin (11 September 2014). "PC Music's digital dreams". Dazed. 4: 178–183. 
  3. ^ a b Geffen, Sasha. "PC Music's Inverted Consumerism". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 1 May 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c d Bassil, Ryan (23 May 2014). "Trying to Make Sense of Hannah Diamond and Post-Ringtone Music". Vice. Retrieved 15 September 2014. 
  5. ^ Zoladz, Lindsay. "The Enigmatic PC Music Is Ready for Real Life". Vulture. Retrieved 14 December 2017. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Sherburne, Philip (17 September 2014). "PC Music's Twisted Electronic Pop: A User's Manual". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 17 September 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f Bakare, Lanre (12 September 2014). "PC Music: clubland's cute new direction". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  8. ^ Norris, John (March 2015). "SXSW 2015: The 8 Most Standout Performances". MTV Iggy. Retrieved 23 March 2015. 
  9. ^ a b Bassil, Ryan (17 December 2014). "Even If They're an Elaborate Joke, PC Music Dominated 2014". Vice. Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  10. ^ a b c d e Golsorkhi-Ainslie, Sohrab (25 August 2013). "Radio Tank Mix: A. G. Cook". Tank. Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  11. ^ a b c d e Hunt, El (11 June 2014). "Inside the hard drive of PC Music". DIY. Retrieved 17 September 2014. 
  12. ^ Anderson, Trevor (4 December 2014). "Will Butler, Against the Current & Hannah Diamond: Emerging Picks of the Week". Billboard. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  13. ^ Lea, Tom. "Hey QT! An interview with 2014's most love-her-or-hate-her pop star". Fact. Retrieved 1 May 2016. 
  14. ^ Kornhaber, Spencer (25 March 2015). "PC Music at SXSW Shows the Gloriously Tacky Future of Music". The Atlantic. Retrieved 20 April 2015. 
  15. ^ Stephens, Huw (25 March 2015). "PC Music Interview". BBC Radio 1. Retrieved 2 May 2015. 
  16. ^ Grebey, James (2 May 2015). "PC Music Boot Up First Officially Released Album, 'PC Music Vol. 1'". Spin. Retrieved 2 May 2015. 
  17. ^ "Review: PC Music and Sophie in a High-Concept Extravaganza at BRIC House". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-06-04. 
  18. ^ a b Frank, Alex (19 September 2014). "A Visual Primer on PC Music, London's Weirdest New Subculture". Vogue. Retrieved 21 September 2014. 
  19. ^ Joyce, Colin (21 October 2015). "PC Music Announces 'Partnership' With Columbia Records With Danny L Harle EP". Spin. Retrieved 28 November 2015. /
  20. ^ "PC Music and Chinese pop star Chris Lee unveil 'Only You'". FACT Magazine: Music News, New Music. Retrieved 2016-02-15. 
  21. ^ Aroesti, Rachel (17 November 2016). "Various: PC Music Volume 2 review – the smartest gang in British pop". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  22. ^ "PC Music releases limited-edition vinyl versions of first two compilations". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved 2018-05-24. 
  23. ^ Harper, Adam (2 October 2014). "System Focus: High Speed Sounds to Blister Even Internet-Accelerated Brains". The Fader. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  24. ^ "Pop Cube Trailer 1 - Hannah Diamond & A. G. Cook In The Studio". YouTube. 2015-05-04. Retrieved 2016-06-04. 
  25. ^ Moynihan, Joe (13 August 2014). "PC Music: the 10 best tracks so far from 2014′s most divisive record label". Fact. Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  26. ^ a b c Kretowicz, Steph (26 June 2014). "You're Too Cute: Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Sophie, PC Music and the Aesthetic of Excess". The Fader. Retrieved 17 September 2014. 
  27. ^ Monroe, Jazz (22 October 2014). "Post-Irony Is the Only Thing Left in the World That Gets a Reaction". Vice. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  28. ^ Marion, Maurice (29 April 2015). "The Sinister Pop of PC Music". Rare Candy Magazine. Retrieved 27 December 2015. 
  29. ^ a b c Pearl, Max; Lhooq, Michelle (8 January 2015). "PC Music is Post-Internet Art". Vice. Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  30. ^ a b Frank, Alex (23 September 2014). "A Rational Conversation: Is PC Music Pop Or Is It 'Pop'?" (Interview). Interviewed by Erick Ducker. National Public Radio. Retrieved 26 September 2014. 
  31. ^ "EASYFUN - "Monopoly" featuring Noonie Bao by PC Music | Free Listening on Soundcloud". Soundcloud. 15 November 2016. Retrieved 17 December 2017. 
  32. ^ "Hear New PC Music Signee Felicita Unspool on 'heads will roll / I will devour you'". Spin. 16 May 2016. Retrieved 18 May 2016. 
  33. ^ "Guys Next Door". 
  34. ^ a b c Joyce, Colin (26 August 2014). "Like Aqua's 'Barbie Girl' Through a Funhouse Mirror, Meet Sophie". Spin. Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  35. ^ "MC BOING - "Dance Floor"". 
  36. ^ "Spinee Lands on PC Music with Pretty Green". Dummy. 15 December 2014. Retrieved 28 November 2015. 
  37. ^ Cos, Jamieson (4 September 2014). "Thy Slaughter: 'Bronze'". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 28 November 2015. 
  38. ^ "U.R.S.U.L.A. ∞ MYTHOMALIA MIX". Dummy. 18 May 2017. Retrieved 23 May 2017. 
  39. ^ https://www.stereogum.com/1725670/oneohtrix-point-never-rush-bubs-feat-a-g-cook/mp3s/
  40. ^ https://www.stereogum.com/1932229/charli-xcx-ily2-danny-l-harle-euphoria-edit/music/
  41. ^ "Dailymotion presents Boiler Room and PC Music". South by Southwest. 15 March 2015. Retrieved 10 October 2016. 
  42. ^ "Maxo streams GFOTY-featuring jam Not That Bad". Dummy. 3 October 2014. Retrieved 28 November 2015. 
  43. ^ Kretowicz, Steph (31 December 2014). "Feminine Appropriation Was 2014's Biggest Electronic Music Trend". The Fader. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  44. ^ Cliff, Aimee (2014). "Dazed 100". Dazed & Confused. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  45. ^ "10 Best Labels of 2014". Fact. 8 December 2014. Retrieved 12 January 2015. 
  46. ^ Van Luling, Todd; Kristobak, Ryan (18 December 2014). "Underrated Albums - 2014". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 12 January 2015. 
  47. ^ "Top Labels of the Year". Resident Advisor. 12 December 2014. Retrieved 12 January 2015. 
  48. ^ Beige, J (December 2014). "Favorite 15 Labels of 2014". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved 11 January 2015. 
  49. ^ Weiss, Dan (17 December 2014). "Trend of the Year: How PC Music Chewed Up Pop Conventions". Spin. Retrieved 5 February 2015. 
  50. ^ "PC Music's Pop Cube Launch Was a Bizarro Fun House of Branded Content - Thump". 
  51. ^ "PC Music announces Pop Cosmos at London's Scala". 
  52. ^ "Watch Charli XCX and Carly Rae Jepsen Play New Songs at PC Music Party - Pitchfork". 
  53. ^ http://thefourohfive.com. "PC Music presents: Pop Cosmos - Scala, London 19/05/2016". 

External links[edit]