hannah diamond and gfoty's beginner's guide to pc music
It was 2014's most divisive new music scene, but two of its key figures give their views on the internet, fashion and fads.
As the sun set on 2014, the question on most of the music world's lips was ''WTF is PC Music?'' Was it a genre? Was it a record label? A mindset? A big joke? Was it even from this world? With its bubblegum sounds and cotton candy aesthetic, with artist names like Princess Bambi, and happy hardcore songs about cake, it sure as hell wasn't like anything else we'd heard before. Drawing on the Japanese notion of Kawaii (think Polly Pocket phone cases and Hello Kitty stickers) and referencing sounds from Euro dance to grime, but with really high-pitched vocals, it was something you either loved or hated it; you definitely didn't understand it. But why was there so much confusion? Well, firstly, A. G. Cook, who founded the label in 2013, doesn't really do interviews. Especially not anymore. He also works a lot with an artist called SOPHIE, who is actually a boy but who sometimes gets girls to perform as him. Then there's QT, a made-up pop singer sent from an alternate planet to promote a fictional energy drink of the same name. Her song is called Hey QT, but it's really produced by A. G. Cook and SOPHIE. Confused? Well, now you don't have to be because PC Music pioneers Hannah Diamond and GFOTY (that's Girlfriend of the Year AKA Polly-Louisa Salmon) are here to clear a few things up...
Tell me a bit about yourself and where you grew up?
Hannah Diamond: I'm Hannah Diamond, I'm 23 years old and I sing and take photos.
GFOTY: I'm a girl and I grew up in London. London is in the UK, England to be exact. I lived in a big house and then my parents got divorced so I lived in two big houses.
Growing up what posters did you have on your wall?
HD: When I was really young I used to get this magazine called Animals and You which always had pull out posters of baby animals — I think my favorites were mostly rabbits. As I got older I moved from animals to fashion magazines and would rip out editorials and campaign images by the photographers I like, like Mert and Marcus, David La Chapelle and Nick Knight.
GFOTY: I had words painted on my wall like "Adam from Maroon 5 is buff" and "sk8r boyz r fit". When I got older I had pictures of me dressed like Victoria Beckham.
What's the story behind your stage name?
GFOTY: It's a way of life. Read the torah/bible w/e, it will guide you towards your own name.
What does PC Music mean to you?
HD: PC Music is a group of creative people who share similar creative ideas and ideals, the majority of whom I've known and worked with for a few years before the label. It's a really supportive group who really value each other on both a professional and personal level — everyone is very lovely and fun to work with!
GFOTY: It means a lot.
How did you first get involved with it?
HD: I originally met A. G. Cook through GFOTY and we ended up becoming really good friends. I think we started working together almost by accident when I ended up singing on a project A. G. Cook was working on where the vocalist he booked didn't turn up to the session! This led to us writing my first solo song together which ended up being Attachment, the first version of which we recorded back in 2012. Before that point our collaborations had been strictly on a visual level.
GFOTY: I was born in 1990. A. G. Cook was also born at some point. We met. PC Music happened. We should all thank our parents for being alive, and our parents' parents, and so on... Otherwise things couldn't happen.
Who do you make music for?
HD: I am quite an introverted and shy person, and it's often hard to express how I feel IRL, so creativity is often an outlet for the thoughts and feelings that I can't otherwise express. With that in mind it'd be nice to think that my music in some way helps articulate the feelings/give a voice to people with a similar disposition to myself!
GFOTY: I make music to keep the GFOTY inside of me alive. We all gotta fade out someday. I also make it to seduce men through my angelic child like vocal chords.
What would you say to people that think PC Music is just some big fad?
HD: Pop music has been around for a long time ;)
GFOTY: I would ask them if they were a fad. Are you a fad? What even is a fad?
Who are your biggest musical influences?
HD: I love Jojo, J-Lo, Mariah Carey, Elijah and Britney.
GFOTY: R Kelly. And people who make songs for après ski albums. Scooter are cool, too.
Is there some underlying message you want to express through your music?
HD: Because I started off doing glossy photography and image work, the main thing I have wanted to do is keep as seamless a link as possible between my visuals and sound, so the two things come together to form an HD whole! I have quite a vivid imagination so when I make music I quickly start getting an image of what the song looks like in my head, and that's the point I start to get really excited about a song.
How much importance do you place on your image?
HD: I place a lot of importance on images in general, although I'm pretty chill about my actual appearance and am comfiest when I'm wearing no make-up and tracky bottoms. But because I take my photos and really enjoy the processing and retouching side, I like being able to go to town on that to provide extra cues on what I wanted to express within the songs, and the sort of feelings I am trying to get across within them. I'm more concerned with using the images as a hyperreal communication companion for the music, as opposed to trying to make myself shiny for the sake of it!
GFOTY: None at all. As I said, you have to earn GFOTY status, and once you've earned it, your image comes naturally.
How would you describe your style?
HD: I feel lately I'm veering back to things I was wearing when I first started getting excited about fashion, at the turn of the millennium — pieces by Dior, Moschino and Versace, through to Sketchers and Miss Sixty! I really hate buying clothes from fast-fashion high street stores because I worry about how they are made and where they are sourced, so I mostly buy designer things second hand or from eBay — I'm always down to pick up something great for a dollar! I also love denim and all white and always veer toward pink & black print and trainers!
GFOTY: My taste in fashion is like a pink onesie covered in Swarovski crystals with loads of money coming out the pockets and Ugg boots, of course.
PC Music has been construed as male-dominated, how do you fit in as girl?
HD: I'm still not entirely sure where this comes from as some of the biggest artists on the label are girls, and I make the images for myself and some of the other female artists associated with PC, so in my eyes it's quite a female-driven label, musically and visually, which isn't to take anything away from A.G. Cook and the other great male artists attached to the label. I feel like it's a misunderstanding based on this weird suspicion that girls only play passive roles in music unless they are able to 'prove' otherwise, which as far as I can tell isn't something male artists experience on the same level. I honestly can't think of a label where female artists have so much creative control over their representation, tbh!
How important is the internet for carving out an identity for yourself as an artist?
HD: Although I have a preference for digital aesthetics and technology, the internet actually really stresses me out! I definitely don't spend all my time on there, but I guess I do love being able to communicate with people from all over the world who give feedback on my music — that can really make my day! I also love the speed with which it allows you to release new things to a network, and then watch people's engagement with them pretty much in real-time. You can literally get live feedback on someone hearing a song for the first time, which is exciting to see!
What do you do besides making music?
HD: Take photos and make images, mostly as part of Diamond Wright.
GFOTY: I cook, and clean, and watch Big Brother repeats, and do my makeup, and drink chocolate milk and I am qualified to be a chef but getting food made for me is better then cooking it. Xx
Text Tish Weinstock
Photography Diamond Wright