|Founder||A. G. Cook|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
PC Music is a record label and art collective based in London and run by producer A. G. Cook. It was founded in 2013, uploading its first releases to SoundCloud that year. Artists on its roster have included Hannah Diamond, GFOTY, Danny L Harle, EASYFUN, Namasenda, and Planet 1999. The label's releases have been showcased on the compilations PC Music Volume 1 (2015), Volume 2 (2016), and Volume 3 (2022).
The label is known for its surreal or exaggerated take on pop music tropes from the 1990s and 2000s, often featuring pitch-shifted, feminine vocals and bright, synthetic textures. PC Music has been characterized as embracing the aesthetics of advertising, consumerism, and corporate branding. Its artists often present devised personas inspired by cyberculture. The label has inspired both praise and criticism from journalists, and has been called "polarizing".
The label functions as a collective in which acts frequently collaborate with each other. Many of the acts are aliases, obscuring the identities and number of artists on the label. Early on, the label kept tight control over its branding and limited its interaction with journalists, and as its profile grew, Cook declined to engage with press, described as a sort of Berry Gordy figure within the group. 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." Cook mentioned preference for "recording people who don't normally make music and treating them as if they're a major label artist." Rather than engaging in extended promotional campaigns, the label continually announces new acts. Each develops a persona that is conveyed through Internet slang and cartoon imagery.
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. He founded PC Music in August 2013, as a way of embracing an A&R role. Within a year the label had published 40 songs on SoundCloud where, as of September 2014, some of its songs had accumulated over 100,000 listens. It had not released a physical single, and its first paid download did not come until the November 2014 release of Hannah Diamond's "Every Night". QT's "Hey QT" single was also released in 2014, on XL Recordings, with production from Cook and PC Music-affiliate Sophie.
In March 2014, the label made their live debut in the United States when Cook, Sophie and QT performed at Hype Machine's Hype Hotel during South by Southwest. The following year, in March 2015, several members of the collective appeared at a label showcase at South by Southwest. Cook described it as a "rebirth moment" for the group, moving toward functioning as a real record label. Shortly after, they released their first official compilation album, titled PC Music Volume 1. 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".
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. 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.
On 18 November 2016, PC Music released PC Music 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".
On 16 February 2018, PC Music released a limited dual-vinyl compilation of both PC Music Volumes 1 and 2 and in December 2018, PC Music announced new vinyl and CD reissues of PC Music Volumes 1 and 2, as well as the first physical release of the label's Month of Mayhem compilation.
On 25 June 2023, PC Music announced that 2023 would be the label's final year of new releases, with the label's main focus slated to be on archival projects and reissues afterwards. Coinciding this announcement was the release of a playlist featuring the work of many PC Music artists.
Sound and influences
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". 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". 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. His production involves layering discordant sounds on top of each other to produce chaotic mixes, similar to the techniques used in black MIDI music. Abrupt shifts in timbre and rhythm are used to create multiple perspectives of a personality. Cook also indirectly cites American musician Conlon Nancarrow as a source of inspiration in the PC Music Pop Cube Trailer 1.
PC Music's songwriting often deals with consumerism as a theme. In their take on haul videos, Lipgloss Twins include references to fashion and makeup brands. 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. The label brings in inexperienced singers to record its songs. It thoroughly processes the vocals, shifting the pitch upward or chopping it to use as a rhythmic element. These distortions create a post-ironic representation of consumerism, money, and sex.
PC Music's aesthetic combines elements of cuteness, camp, and kawaii, though often, as music critic Maurice Marion points out for Rare Candy, with a sinister, Lynchian undertone achieved by dissonant inversions and caustic harmonization. Critics likened the label to Ryan Trecartin in its irregular pacing and valley girl slang. In a piece for Vice, Ryan Bassil suggested that PC Music's style allows for a more candid expression of emotions.
PC Music has been described as less "macho" take on the "house revival", bringing "playfulness and femininity" to dance music subculture. 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 homogenised, high-fidelity aesthetics of these songs. 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.
As PC Music became more prominent in 2014, the reaction to it was often described as "divisive". 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." Some critics have found its high-tempo trance sound artless or aggravating.
PC Music received accolades in several 2014 year-end summaries. Dazed included A. G. Cook at number 12 in their "Dazed 100"; Fact named PC Music the best label of 2014; The Huffington Post included PC Music at number 3 in their "Underrated Albums - 2014"; Resident Advisor included PC Music at number 4 in their "Top Labels of The Year" in 2014; and Tiny Mix Tapes included it in their "Favorite 15 Labels of 2014". Spin magazine named PC Music its "Trend of the Year" for 2014. In 2021, The Forty-Five named several PC Music artists – including A.G. Cook, umru and Hannah Diamond – in their list of the best hyperpop songs of all time.
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. 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. 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. 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".
Current roster of artists signed to the label
Artists previously signed to the label
Artists with only one solo release on the label
Group projects and alternative aliases on the label
- AFK (Ö & A. G. Cook)
- Bopples (A. G. Cook & Kai Whiston)
- Danny Sunshine (Danny L Harle)
- DJ LIFELINE (A. G. Cook)
- DJ Warlord (A. G. Cook)
- Dux Content (A. G. Cook & Danny L Harle)
- EasyFX (A. G. Cook & EasyFun)
- Guys Next Door (A. G. Cook & Oneohtrix Point Never)
- Life Sim (speculated to be A. G. Cook)
- Lipgloss Twins (A. G. Cook & Felicita)
- MC Boing (Danny L Harle & Lil Data)
- Nu New Edition (speculated to be A. G. Cook and/or Finn Diesel)
- Pobbles (A. G. Cook)
- Thy Slaughter (A. G. Cook & EasyFun)
- U.R.S.U.L.A. (speculated to be A. G. Cook & Spinee)
Vocalists and other featured artists on the label
- Aj simons
- Alaska Reid
- Carly Rae Jepsen
- Caroline Polachek
- Cecile Believe
- Charli XCX
- Chloe Sachikonye
- Denzel Himself
- Ellen Roberts
- Emily Verlander
- Goth Jafar
- Harriet Pittard
- Hazel Yule
- Joey LaBeija
- Kero Kero Bonito
- La Zowi
- Laura Les
- Lewis Grant
- Matt Copson
- Merlin Nova
- Noonie Bao
- Petal Supply
- Phoebe Ryan
- Ravenna Golden
- Rebecca Black
- Sarah Bonito
- Sophie Cates
- Sounds Like A U Problem
Artists with at least one remixed release by an artist on the label
- 100 gecs
- Caroline Polachek
- Casey MQ
- Charli XCX
- Christine and the Queens
- DJ DJ Booth
- Ed Sheeran
- Erika de Casier
- Hikaru Utada
- How To Dress Well
- Janet Jackson
- Kacy Hill
- Kero Kero Bonito
- Lady Gaga
- lil aaron
- Max Tundra
- Oneohtrix Point Never
- Perfume Genius
- Sekai no Owari
- Silly Boy Blue
- Wave Racer
|PC Music Volume 1|
|PC Music Volume 2|
|PC Music Volumes 1 & 2|
|Month of Mayhem|
|Appleville (Golden Ticket)||
|Pop Crypt (Skeleton Key)|
|Pop Caroler's Songbook||
|PC Music Volume 3||
|Away From Keyboard [file not found]|
|Pop Carol (Free Present with RSVP)||
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- Jones, Charlie Robin (11 September 2014). "PC Music's digital dreams". Dazed. 4: 178–183.
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- "Review: PC Music and Sophie in a High-Concept Extravaganza at BRIC House". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
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- "PC Music and Chinese pop star Chris Lee unveil 'Only You'". FACT Magazine: Music News, New Music. 10 December 2015. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
- Aroesti, Rachel (17 November 2016). "Various: PC Music Volume 2 review – the smartest gang in British pop". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
- "PC Music releases limited-edition vinyl versions of first two compilations". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
- "PC Music releases old PC Music music in new PC Music music music formats". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
- "PC Music to Cease Releasing New Music After 2023, Pivot to Archival Projects". Pitchfork. 25 June 2023. Retrieved 26 June 2023.
- Harper, Adam (2 October 2014). "System Focus: High Speed Sounds to Blister Even Internet-Accelerated Brains". The Fader. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
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- 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.
- Monroe, Jazz (22 October 2014). "Post-Irony Is the Only Thing Left in the World That Gets a Reaction". Vice. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
- Marion, Maurice (29 April 2015). "The Sinister Pop of PC Music". Rare Candy Magazine. Archived from the original on 12 June 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
- Pearl, Max; Lhooq, Michelle (8 January 2015). "PC Music is Post-Internet Art". Vice. Archived from the original on 10 January 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
- 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.
- Dandridge-Lemco, Ben (10 November 2020). "How Hyperpop, a Small Spotify Playlist, Grew Into a Big Deal". The New York Times.
- Cliff, Aimee (2014). "Dazed 100". Dazed & Confused. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
- "10 Best Labels of 2014". Fact. 8 December 2014. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
- Van Luling, Todd; Kristobak, Ryan (18 December 2014). "Underrated Albums - 2014". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
- "Top Labels of the Year". Resident Advisor. 12 December 2014. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
- Beige, J (December 2014). "Favorite 15 Labels of 2014". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
- Weiss, Dan (17 December 2014). "Trend of the Year: How PC Music Chewed Up Pop Conventions". Spin. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
- "The 45 best hyperpop songs of all time". 10 February 2021.
- "PC Music's Pop Cube Launch Was a Bizarro Fun House of Branded Content - Thump".
- "PC Music announces Pop Cosmos at London's Scala". 24 March 2016.
- "Watch Charli XCX and Carly Rae Jepsen Play New Songs at PC Music Party - Pitchfork". Pitchfork. 21 July 2016.
- "PC Music presents: Pop Cosmos - Scala, London 19/05/2016".
- Wolfson, Sam (2 May 2015). "PC Music: the future of pop or 'contemptuous parody'?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 10 January 2020 – via www.theguardian.com.
- "Hear New PC Music Signee Felicita Unspool on 'heads will roll / I will devour you'". Spin. 16 May 2016. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
- "umru - search result EP". YouTube. 23 November 2018. Retrieved 25 March 2022.
- "umru - comfort noise EP". YouTube. 25 March 2022. Retrieved 25 March 2022.
- "Dailymotion presents Boiler Room and PC Music". South by Southwest. 15 March 2015. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
- "♫ Listen: Guys Next Door (Oneohtrix Point Never + A. G. Cook?) - "Behind The Wall"". Tiny Mix Tapes.
- "♫ Listen: MC BOING - "Dance Floor"". Tiny Mix Tapes.
- Cos, Jamieson (4 September 2014). "Thy Slaughter: 'Bronze'". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 28 November 2015.
- "U.R.S.U.L.A. ∞ MYTHOMALIA MIX". Dummy. 18 May 2017. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
- "Charli XCX – "ILY2 (Danny L Harle Euphoria Edit)"". 28 March 2017.
- "A. G. Cook and Charli XCX Share New "Xcxoplex" Remix: Watch the Video"". Pitchfork. 14 May 2021.
- "Month of Mayhem by PC Music". Bandcamp. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- "Appleville (Golden Ticket) by PC Music". Bandcamp. Retrieved 6 July 2023.
- "Pop Crypt (Skeleton Key) by PC Music". Bandcamp. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- "Pop Caroler's Songbook by PC Music". Bandcamp. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- "Away From Keyboard (file not found)". Bandcamp. Retrieved 6 December 2022.
- "Pop Carol (Free Present)". Bandcamp. Retrieved 10 December 2022.