THE BEGINNING AND END OF BRITPOP AS WE KNOW IT. ENTER THE NIGHTCLUB AND TASTE THE CONFETTI. WELCOME TO POP CITY.
The collective cut their teeth producing and performing live, along with associated act Sophie, in London at the JACK댄스 club nights and has since signing to Columbia Records. The ‘Pop City’ event carries on from earlier similarly-themed group events, including a special night at last year’s SXSWand the recent ‘Pop Cosmos‘ at the Scala in London in May.
London-based music label and collective PC Music is doing a showcase, called Pop Cosmos at London’s Scala on May 19.
The acts set to perform on the night include Danny L Harle, Hannah Diamond, GFOTY, Felicita, Easyfun, Spinee, and A. G. Cook, the latter of whom founded the PC Music label online around 2013, since partnering with Columbia Records. Cook has also worked with other artists of a similar focus on feminine-future aesthetics, like Sophie, together producing and developing music project and energy drink QT with performance artist Hayden Dunham(aka ‘Quinn Thomas’), as well as producing as duo called Lipgloss Twins with Felicita.
The Pop Cosmos press release comes accompanied by a short trailer video by SCOTTY2HOTTY69 and the following new-futurist affirmation:
“Lose yourself in an immersive journey to the end of time. See the stars up close. Buy your one way ticket to the Pop Cosmos.”
Copson inaugurates the new experimental and immersive event series at the Sackler Gallery The Magazine Sessions with his work.
A Woodland Truce is a play without actors, a scene with deer, lighting, live and pre-recorded elements and a fox called Reynard, who regularly features in Copson’s practice. The press release tells that the animals and elements come together in the woods, discuss their biological conditioning and try and undermine it.
The music for the event is composed by London-based producerFelicita, and choir Musarc will be performing live vocals, accompanied by Marcus Nasty.
The week-long multi-disciplinary event explores new international music and performance in a sequence of themed evening events including titles like ‘Capital Collective’, ‘To A New Definition Of Opera II’, ‘A Martian Sends a Postcard Home’ and ‘Requiem for Reality’.
There’ll be a presentation of Tino Sehgal’s Instead of allowing some thing to rise up to your face dancing bruce and dan and other things (2000) and the European premiere of Norwegian composer Oyvind Torvund‘s Untitled School/Mud Jam/Campfire Tunes,with Islam Chipsy among its Plus Minus Ensemble performers, on December 16.
Most pertinently, though, December 17 will include contributions from Felicita and James Ferraro for the ‘Requiem for Reality’ programme – “Some call it Post-Internet Art” – while a number of artist talks, running at the Ace Hotel December 12 to 13, will include a conversation between Visionist and music critic Adam Harper.
Leo Liccini’s impressive Ariel 2.0 series has showcased a number of international musicians, producers and artists whose performative voices are being shaped by computers and online life, bringing the likes of Karen Gwyer, Cakes da Killa, and Hanne Lippard to the Bold Tendencies auditorium space of a multi-storey car park in Peckham, South East London. The programme’s final outing features Felicita, whose hi-tech noise music has been performed at club nights and art galleries alike, and Tami Tamaki, a Berlin-based singer and producer who writes dance pop songs with a candid take on sexuality at the forefront.
Although originally hailing from Sweden, Tami Tamaki has made a small impact in Berlin’s underground electronic scene and found fans online thanks to the inclusion of their song ‘I Never Loved This Hard This Fast Before’ in the soundtrack to Ester Martin Bergsmark’s 2014 queer romance Something Must Break. Tamaki’s set (a first for a UK audience) flitted between bright, colourful pop songs, sad-eyed robo-ballads, and big drop bangers. Lyrically the sorts of clichés you hear in top 40 radio pop are taken (“I never loved this hard this fast before / But then again I never loved a boy like you before”) and then flipped with a frank and often funny depiction of sex and sexuality (“You make my heart beat, steady as a clock / Your words touches deep, and so does your cock”). Tamaki adjusts and queers a vocal delivery through heavy processing, but the music is still rooted in conventional melodic pop song-craft and it’s precisely because it’s more visceral than intellectual that it works so well. Two songs into the set, Tamaki suggests that they’re not used to playing to a seated audience, and when the crowd gets up, they stay up.
Having attended South London artist Felicita’s WISH event at London’s ICA theatre earlier this year, I was on familiar ground with what to expect, even if his music is formally less straightforward than Tami Tamaki’s. Felicita presents his show like a typical live act: the artist is on-stage, they play their instrument (in this case, a laptop), and the audience faces them. But throughout the set, Felicita subtly circumvents established gig rituals and takes things closer to performance art, especially as he controls his production software through his smartphone. At times, the only light in the room comes from the glowing Apple logo on the back of his computer, and it’s impossible to know what’s going on behind that screen: Felicita could be in the middle of an elaborate Ableton live session, or he could just be hitting the space bar on iTunes.
One thing that is recognisably ‘live’ is the contribution of vocalist Chlo, who opens the set by directing an inane stream of consciousness into the microphone. Slowly, this spoken word is drowned out by Felicita’s bright, colourful take on noise music, clearing the way for a din of chattering voices, glitches, and loud digital synth blasts (with hints of garish pop songs surfacing occasionally above the clamour). Chlo’s contribution starts as something non-musical, but she returns at the end of the set and blasts out a song a capella that proves there is a formal talent that is previously, deliberately left unheard. At the end of the performance, the music cuts out and the crowd stands in silence, uncertain whether to clap, wait for the music to kick back in, or leave. **
NTS has been running Parallel Visions in collaboration with the ICA throughout 2014, with six hosts curating interdisciplinary nights of live music and performance informed by their individual tastes.
The sixth edition features an a cappella appearance by Kero Kero Bonito (London’s Sarah Gus Jamie), as well as a “micro-climates” by Lipgloss Twins (who appear, the description says, as “real-life humans at the ICA bar”) and Lil Data (who will “take over” your smartphones”).
The radio show/music blog/party throwers, Seb and Iydes, have been on the scene since 2010, following new movements in electronic music through their two-hour monthly radio broadcasts from 2011 and regular club nights from April this year.
Thursday’s show brings “Berlin resident, Janus crew member, and self-proclaimed ‘club terrorist'” Lotic with his UK debut, followed by Gum Artefacts/PC Music associate Felicita (who we flagged for interest here) and resident DJs (and persons behind Tropical Waste) IYDES and Seb.
Three London producers to pay attention to: A.G. Cook, Felicitaand Sophie. Playing the JACK댄스 night at Power Lunches –in support of Berlin’s DJ Paypal and the French Tielsie–last weekend, the aural triptych of underground cute girls that are boys (or thereabouts) play to a crowd drenched in the ecstasy of joyful celebration as a lightly transgressive exercise. There’s a furry hand bag, an intense weave and lots and lots of gesticulating, as this impossibly affective electro pulls from the bottomless resource of the internet, reconstructing it into found sound tributes to the higher order of popular culture-at-large.
With these pop proclivities in mind, perhaps the most relevant outfit observation of the night is a replica Heron Preston #BEEN TRILL NASCAR bootleg, with the red and white smiley of the JACK댄스 logo where ‘Ford Racing’ should be. But while Preston taps into brand power as a form of resistance, event organiser Simon Whybray and invited artists parasite pop. Injected with the unavoidable grime and garage influences of the London underground, A.G. Cook, Felicita and Sophie cheerfully draw it together with J-pop, early-millennial R&B, Disney soundtracks and uber-commercial hip hop. Fun is to be had and insecurities ignored for the short window of time where these very elements of ‘popaganda’, and the oppressive cultural norms they peddle, are manipulated and mangled into an organic movement of queer communion.
Potentially drawing from a broad tradition of YouTube youth culture –from nightcore’s 125 – 130 bpm speed edit juvenilisation of all sorts of ‘trances’ and ‘dances’ (all the way up to its Katy Perry and Taylor Swift mix bastardisations) to the early days 8-bit of Anamanaguchiand Unicorn Kid–has evolved into a fully realised movement of smart music made fun. It’s a testament to the JACK댄스 (the characters are Korean for ‘dance’) event name, where a rapid-paced super-reality of modern living is moulded into a truly transcendent post-human scene. Up here all boundaries and binaries are ignored to be inhabited largely by the hyper-realised avatars and Leslie Kulesh-defined “tech-tangible cyborg” producers of A.G. Cook-run netlabel PC Music and beyond.
It almost feels like a betrayal trying to contain the essence of a night like this into writing, but to be fair, this is only a short pit stop in the hyper-speed non-present of an ever-evolving form. Time collapses, space expands and a tactile “bip, bop, bap” pans and weaves anxiously across the room during the earlier A.G. Cook set; a girly giggle materialises in the top left corner, a hard and heavy gush of bass falls, and lands in a pool at your feet. A remix, recalibration and revival of sounds grounded in the mainstream, Sophie withholds the drop of ‘BIPP’ from a group gagging for it as the unfinished “I can make you feel…” stammers in suspended tension at its climax before grinding into the unsettlingly elated garishness of music-as-pure HD delight.
This is music you can touch. Or more specifically play with, as it bounds and bounces, stops and drops at will. Sometimes it disappears completely, knocking the wind from the moment, pulling everything from under you and leaving just a single, lone sound, an object, to taunt and be engrossed in. There’s the climbing, intensifying snarl of a chainsaw-sound accelerating to breaking point in Sophie’s set, a squealing vocal or rhythmic clatter, toggling back and forth, during A.G. Cook’s. They take time-out for the fetishistic dissection of any musical element –pitch, speed, volume, form, texture –before another deep swell brings it crashing back down to the dance floor.
Where A.G. Cook and Sophie move through three-dimensional space from their sound mixer, Felicita’s short VDJ macbook intermission explores his influences. It’s his a capella of Justin Bieber-endorsement Madison Beer to Sophie’s Le1f, A.G. Cook’s PC Music-released Princess Bambi to his Miley Cyrus. Here, a Nicki Minaj spoken interlude, there, a song from The Jungle Book, as well as easyFunand Haifaa Wahby’s childlike ‘Boos El Wawa’ –its disturbingly sexy music video resonating through Felicita’s DIS-premiered ‘Doves’ one.
It’s like this music is a physical representation of a groundless collapse of time and space through online interaction, except with a still powerfully localised aesthetic that rides on the frenetic speed and instability of modern London. The data overload, the overwhelming information of city life is compressed into a single ecstatic release, a purge of the sights and sounds that, rather than processing it yourself, has been processed for you. It’s been masticated into a dynamic mesh of sounds, samples and references alive with their own personal and historical narratives.
As music that has gone beyond pastiche –a tinkling xylophone, a babbling baby, Fireman Sam theme song –all three of these artists generate a lucid dream-like musical recreation of the crowd-sourced, hive mind network that the internet was meant to be. It’s since been overrun by mainstream homogenisation and corporate culture, so resistance comes in the form of manipulation from the inside. Songs are constructed from the detritus of social decay and colonised by this new, and importantly, optimistic drive to subversion. Super-complex forms, loaded with different emotional information and evoking a purely sensual arousal come in A.G. Cook-played tracks like Dux Content’s ‘Like You’. That whistles meanderingly through space, while extracting the sentimental essence of words like, “baby, if you’re lonely, you can call me” over a nervous chime melody, while losing none of it joyous motion. This is the modern hybrid, the Human 2.0. of preteen androgyny in ‘Moose’ as it reclaims “swag” from its macho hip hop-to-pop-appropriation and returns it to its rumoured social margins –all over a palpable kick drum strut.
Pulling liberally from the indistinguishable digital and IRL worlds to feed into its compound of unhinged morphogenesis, this is music that emerges, evaporates and interacts with its own loaded narratives through purely aesthetic dissections of sound. It’s sculpture that becomes sentient as Hannah Diamond whoops, “Give it to the cutest girl!” in ‘Keri Baby‘, while poignantly pointing to her own objectness, as a simulation of a simulated vocal mechanically recites, “tell. me. if. you. want. to. watch. me. play. with. my. hair. on. the.TV.”. Because, as much as “Keri” doesn’t want “to be an mp3”, neither do these intensely hybridised, compacted and infinitely mutable soundbytes of total affective response and synthesised authenticity. This is an aesthetic with a conscience –a philosophical movement without a philosophy, utopianism with no grounding ideology. It’s music made through a powerful intuitive process, overriding the plasticity of its materials and feeding, informing, articulating an alternative future. That’s not through radical action but the effervescent cheer of endless enjoyment. **