The first song from the PC Music music roster that I heard was Hannah Diamonds ‘Attachement.’ My initial reaction was something along the lines of ‘well this is certainly different and interesting but I do feel a bit weird listening to it,’ but I wasn’t entirely drawn-in yet. At some point in the following weeks I started to follow the label/collective on Soundcloud and gradually came to explore the range of unique artists under the PC music umbrella such as head-honcho AG Cook, Danny L Harle, GFOTY, associate and sometime-collaborator SOPHIE, Lil Data and the intriguing artist/project QT.
For those who don’t know, PC Music is a collective of artists whose aesthetic is reminiscent of nineties/early-noughties chart-pop, K and J- Pop, Happy Hardcore, UK Garage and Hudson Mohawke-esque Bass Music. Seemingly in contrast to both ultra-trendy ‘alt’ UK Dance music heads and stadium DJs such as Aviici and David Guetta whilst borrowing sonic elements from both scenes, PC Music reflects the culture of hyper-capitalism and consumerism back onto us in an almost Warholian or Koons-esque manner while leaving us wondering whether this is a sincere tribute to the oft-maligned mainstream sphere of culture or an in-joke amongst pranksters with a working knowledge of Art History and critical theory. Essentially the tongue is always only halfway in the cheek and the lines between sincerity and irony are very much blurred (there’s an excellent thinkpiece evaluating the relevance of PC Music through comparison to the ideas of David Foster Wallace over at Noisey) with the shifting paradigm for authenticity within a globalized post-industrial and constantly-connected world not only being highlighted but being embraced. One only has to listen to tracks such as SOPHIE’S ‘Lemonade’, Danny L Harle’s ‘ In My Dreams’ or the infamous ‘Hey QT‘ to notice that catchy melodies and sugary lyrics and dopamine-inducing production is often juxtaposed with slightly off-key melodies, subtly bleak lyrics expressing fear, melancholy and uncertainty and intentionally jarring manic production.
The last point is the one which I would like to invite Advertising creatives, marketers, brand managers and anyone involved in creating a narrative around their product to consider. Whilst I love irreverence, edginess and risk-taking in advertising and broader marketing activities, I would argue that the new challenge for our culture as a whole is to figure out how to respond to the changing parameters of taste, authenticity and identity in a fully connected world. The great postmodern satirist Martin Amis once characterised writing (in this context we can broaden this to the full scope of creative endeavour) as a ‘é is beginning to show us another way in which we can connect brands to the desired audience. In a previous post I mentioned how advertising works best when it capitalises on things that are already entrenched in our collective consciousness, things that we can recall almost instinctively, and this is why I’m interested in the role of clichés in marketing. However it is not cliches alone which create a resonance with the consumer, one also has to consider that the elements of irreverence, edge and boldness are essential for emerging brands. These are key components which brands require in order to be noticed as markets rapidly fill up with competitors who will also be looking to earn a place on the cultural radar of consumers. It is with this in mind that I am proposing that young creative marketers who embody the often contradictory worlds of art and commerce to have a listen to some of the artists associated with PC Music and just have a think about what I’ve written here.
I might have wasted five minutes of your time with pretentious references and meaningless speculation but at least you got to listen to some catchy pop tunes under the guise of learning something new.