PC Music is a label that has recently risen to prominence – it embodies heavy slabs of bass, glittering synthesisers and vocals somewhere north of soprano. Whilst the lyrics transport you back to a time of teenage innocence, the label cuts an inventive figure in dance music with its critics often turned off by its saccharine presentation or unable to take it seriously. It is odd to think that something so sweet and straightforward can provoke the strong reaction that it does.
The detractrors will scoff and ask whether there is anything beneath the surface of a record label that holds an artist called Lipgloss Twins on their roster, but there are many different ways one can interpret PC Music. The response to this is that if we are to be properly postmodern (read: wanky), then there is always meaning there, whether the artist intends it or not. The line taken by The Guardian is that PC Music embodies the Japanese concept of kawaii (cuteness), whilst others see it as a feminine response to dance music. This last theory carries weight given that close label associate SOPHIE is a man who either dresses as a woman, or gets a woman to represent him/her (delete as appropriate) during performance. Yet I think this is misleading because it is easy for a critic to fall into this trap: music criticism is famously a near totally male pursuit and when presented with something as alien as PC Music, it is easy to pigeonhole it as a “girl thing” in the context. What PC Music does present is an antithesis to po-faced UK bass music and cyberculture. It embodies a very carefully groomed aesthetic that owes more than just a little to vaporwave and seapunk.
To say that the name PC Music is simply a case of nominative determinism is naïve: see the constant references to digital media; the album art work that could have come straight from a myspace profile; and the smooth computer art of vaporwave being taken to the next level. One of the most hilariously helpful tags added to the music is post-ringtone. I like that. I like that a lot.
So. Where to start?
A. G. Cook
Arguably the first place to start is with the label’s head boy, A. G. Cook., who showcases the essential components of the PC Music sound. He is certainly one of the most consistent artists, from the airhorn bothering ‘Beautiful’ to the sublime 2050 pop jam ‘Keri Baby’. With SOPHIE, he released ‘Hey QT’ on XL and he compiles the most interesting sets, as can be seen above.
Strictly not part of PC Music, but the lines are so blurred and the styles align so perfectly, it would be remiss not to include SOPHIE. SOPHIE represents the most popular artist of the bunch; the single ‘Lemonade’ made the Resident Advisor recommends list and she had her own half-hour Boiler Room tour-de-force. The crown jewel is ‘BIPP’, which is a mainstay of many SOPHIE and PC Music performances. Over the past 18 months SOPHIE has been turning heads with the catchiest choruses for miles around and, now that she is signed to Numbers, the future is bright.
GFOTY, or Girlfriend of the Year, first made a mark in early 2012 with the single ‘Friday Night’. She is the most versatile of the PC Music artists, as shown by the teenage heartbreak of ‘Bobby’ and the mind bending ‘Secret Mix’, which chops and screws with her voice as it visits various esoteric pop music tropes. Throughout her music, we are presented with a very honest – and often unsettling – point of view in her inimitable half-spoken-half-sung vocals.
If A. G. Cook is the sound of PC Music, Hannah Diamond is the poster girl. Presented as Sporty Spice thirty years in the future, she is airbrushed to the point of being indistinguishable from a mannequin. At the time of writing, she only has four tracks on her soundcloud, but each represents a perfect slice of girlish ultrapop, complete with singalong phrases, fist punching choruses and lighter-in-the-air romantic ballads. The soundtrack to the best school disco of all time. In space.
Danny L Harle
One of the more elusive artists on the label, when Danny L Harle hits, he hits hard. Each of ‘In My Dreams’, ‘Broken Flowers’ or ‘Aquarius (Lune Remix)’ could jostle for the title of “Best PC Music track”. Established music journalist Michael Holden claimed that ‘Broken Flowers’ would have taken his head off if it was released 25 years ago. The man has a point – it’s straight, no chaser pop music that will leave the unexpecting listener lifting their jaw off the floor.