Since its inception in June of 2013, the PC Music label has divided listeners and critics alike. In the beginning, they were the up and coming favorite of most indie music publications, but as the think-pieces came and went, they seemed to fall out of favor. It’s an odd shift considering the label has snowballed in the same direction ever since the first release. Through strategic partnerships with DISmagazine, Rinse FM, Red Bull, and Columbia Records the fantasy meets corporate aesthetic is as strong as ever.
Label founder and head honcho, A.G. Cook, is now producing for Charli XCX and China’s biggest pop star, Li Yuchun. Meanwhile, Danny L Harle has made the BBC Radio 1 A-List with his huge banger, “Broken Flowers,” and is working with Carly Rae Jepsen and Caroline Polachek. Even GFOTY has been touring with Animal Collective this year. If virtual pop star and personified vocaloid, Hatsuni Miku, can perform to a stadium of 30,000 people in Japan, then why do Western audiences struggle to accept PC Music as a legitimate force in the industry?
Some say the music is insincere and merely a tongue-in-cheek collage of 2000s pop, EDM, nightcore, and J-pop, or somehow guilty of feminine appropriation. The latter, especially, could not be further from the truth considering the prominent role females play within the label. Hannah Diamond handles a lot of the visual element, while GFOTY, Spinee, Hannah, and QT hold their own in front of the microphone and behind the boards. Overall, it is a serious endeavor to create songs that honor their influences while reinterpreting them for a new generation. A.G. Cook said it best in an interview with Rolling Stone: “there is no way satire could be at the core of anything.”
Instead of vinyl and compact discs we get MP3s and interactive websites. After all, this is music made by those who grew up and flourished in the digital age. PC Music undeniably operates differently than your typical label. The musical releases are usually announced with little fanfare. However, the label is truly at its best when pulling stunts like their Halloween webcast featuring the artists’ undead alter-egos, producing for the semi-fictional energy drink, QT, or throwing concerts such as the multimedia extravaganza of Pop Cube that was held in Brooklyn last year.
By this point, most of the roster has been unmasked and fans can put a human face to the previously online-only persona. The label has expanded to include A.G. Cook, Danny L Harle, Dux Content, easyFun, Felicita, GFOTY, Hannah Diamond, Life Sim, Lil Data, Lipgloss Twins, Spinee, and Thy Slaughter. It is still unclear who is making music as Life Sim and Thy Slaughter, but when the music is as infectious as it is, does it matter if we know?
What started out as a way for university friends to create electronic music they weren’t hearing has now garnered the attention of everyone from Madonna to Iggy Pop, ultimately getting them signed to the oldest record label around today, Columbia Records. Admittedly the sometimes pitched-up vocals, maximalist synth work, glossy aesthetic, and pop aspirations may not be for everybody, but it seems that PC Music as a whole gets written off far too often before being given a real chance.