Has there been a greater shift in electronic music than last year’s PC Music revolution? Crashing head first into pop music conversation, listeners and journalists alike didn’t know quite what to make of its pitched-up vocals, saccharine content and QT’s satirical high concept stage performances.
Led by A.G. Cook and Danny L Harle, calling PC Music’s brand divisive would be underselling it; they have garnered obsessed super fans and sit-at-home trolls in equal measure, but you get the impression that they couldn’t care less either way – in Danny’s own words, ‘the focus is on the fun.’
Hey Danny, what part did Goldsmiths and the Royal Academy play in your early development as an artist?
Experiencing the institutions of jazz and classical music in this country was was a weird situation; it’s a means to no end, there’s no demand for it anymore. The music they show you is fantastic but they’re training you in a tradition that doesn’t exist anymore. Electronic music is the contemporary instrument that exists, and for something to be relevant in this day and age it has to be electronic.
The main revelation was when people were suddenly interested in my music, which was the purest expression of me, the music that I originally wrote for my own amusement. Content-wise it was a bit of fun on the side, it was the kind of thing that I’d never play to anyone, I never considered it as a serious career. I assumed that to do music as a career you’d have to do serious music, like in jazz ensembles or classical music.
My music has already been trying to do the same thing, to amuse me in an existential way, to make me laugh. I strive to achieve a musical euphoria, that’s the aim of all of this. There’s different ways of doing that, and I’m interested in extreme modes of elevation in music.
You said you want to ‘complete insanity’ with pop, what do you mean exactly?
The thing I like about that is by definition the norm, but actually listening to it most of the time, crazy stuff happens all the time. You have to move very few things from the music to take the mask off of it, that’s how mad it is.
Where do you see the pop landscape heading over the next 12 months?
I don’t think that’s worth worrying about. There will probably be a return to ‘authentic’ music I think, which will be way more fake than the current electronic music but no one will know because of the insanity of pop music.
What does signing to Columbia mean for PC Music as a brand long term?
I can’t answer on behalf of PC Music, but it’s a better fit for me to be on a major label than it previously was. I don’t know anyone that wouldn’t benefit from this situation – to me it’s only a good thing.
Did you pay much attention to the think pieces that have been written about PC Music over the past year?
I found it all really funny, the way people decide what something is about without knowing anything about it. Then they see it as a complete betrayal of what they previously decided because it goes off in a direction that they weren’t expecting. It’s always a funny one, it was never a thing that influenced my direction. I can only do one thing, which is write one kind of music. I’ve always been writing the music, it’s just now there’s a bit of interest in it. That’s the only difference.
I’ve been trying to write pop music the whole time, especially like the tracks on the EP; I was surprised that people didn’t see them as normal pop songs. There was no attempt to make anything weird, it was just my take on pop. Having written quite a lot of music since this all happened, I’ve realised that I can’t help but write my take on it, which is quite comforting really. It just happens without me willing it. It’s when I start willing it that I’ll be worried.
Your Pop Cube performance in New York was heralded as a “high concept extravaganza’ – what do you have planned for your XOYO showcase?
We’ve got something planned! Just today I was watching clips from a rave in Liverpool in 1990, and the the closest I’ve seen to that in terms of fun and happiness at a gig is the PC Music SXSW show.
That’s my dream in terms of atmosphere, that’s all I want to do, that’s all I want to bring to other people. I’m interested in creating a fun environment where the music is interesting, you can appreciate it if you want, but it’s also an environment of dancing, it’s like a coincidence that it’s interesting. The focus is on the fun!
Danny L Harle will participate in tonight’s PC Music takeover featuring A.G. Cook, Felicita, Easyfun, and more at XOYO in London’s Shoreditch district. Find more information here and check out the full #XOYOLoves schedule here.