Trying to Make Sense of Hannah Diamond and Post-Ringtone Music
A couple of months ago, something happened that made me question everything: lip-gloss blogger and professional gif-maker Bip Ling vomited “BIPPING” - an ode to blogging - over YouTube. It split opinions; Cosmo called bipping the new twerking and my friend referred to it as the e-number fuelled musical diarrhea of a guest-list party regular.
It made me question everything because I couldn’t work out if (A) the music was brilliant and I wanted to delete my iTunes and only listen to Bip Ling for the rest of my life or (B) the music was terrible and the words “Bipping. Mooching. Blogging. Blogging” were repeating like a blogspot version of Groundhog Day that made me want to Ctrl+Alt+Delete my existence.
This sort of thing happens to me every once in a while. It could be a composition that pushes the boundary of sound, a song Nelly wrote confessing his attraction to a car, or a bunch of Japanese girls singing a speed-metal song about wanting to eat chocolate, but not being able to eat it, because Mars Bars makes you fat. It doesn’t matter; all that matters is the songs disorientate any sense of what music, or good music, can be. They’re the sort of songs that can create mass opposition: either you play it to everyone, calling it the best thing in the world until you’re politely told to fuck off or you play it to everyone, calling it the worst thing in the world until you’re politely told to fuck off. Either way – it’s unlike anything else and the internet was invented to share it.
Hannah Diamond - who you may or may not have heard of - is an artist that fits into this category.
I heard her track, “Pink and Blue”, at the beginning of the year. It’s like a lullaby – but made for teenagers that send every pink emoji on the iPhone keyboard. The track is cute; it’s the sound of kiss-chase and passing notes around class, but jarring, too – like sleeping in a strange bed with a decimation of tasselled pillows that are more overwhelming than comfortable. I didn’t understand.
Six months – and two songs – later and I couldn’t stop listening. The music – whether you think it’s bad or good – is enticing, innocent, and demands repeated listens. I repeatedly pressed the play button to try and make sense and the more I did, the more I understood. By the end I felt like I’d read every drafted but never sent tweet from Hannah’s phone. It was like stumbling on a private Tumblr page of an ex-girlfriend; something you’re never meant to see but slowly, as you read more and more it all starts to make sense. It fascinated me.
Hannah - who supported SOPHIE at Editions Hotel a month ago - is on a record label called PC Music – a group of artists connected by a sound that should be described as post-ringtone. The label has released at least 40 tracks on their Soundcloud in the last eleven months and each one is equally abstruse.
Hannah’s music is made for people sat at home wondering if their crush has sub-tweeted them. But she’s only one side of the label - the other sounds like it’s made for people that don’t waste time; they find their crush, make them a fuck buddy, and then wonder how they’ve broken their own heart. It can be direct and brilliant, even at first listen.
You’ve got songs like “Broken Flowers”, by Danny L Harle, which is one of the best pop songs I’ve heard this year. A.G Cook’s “Did U Ever Love Me” – a song that belongs on whatever the British equivalent of Solange’s St Heron label is. And then there’s GFOTY – Girlfriend of the Year – who has been putting out music for years, used to run a blog, and has featured in the Mushpit.
I caught up with GFOTY over email to try and find out a little more about PC Music. She declined to answer questions about PC Music - maybe because it’s a massive secret - but whatever, here’s the rest of our conversation.
Noisey: You’re called Girlfriend of the Year. What does it mean?
GFOTY: GFOTY is a state of mind which can only be achieved by the deepest level of meditation on a beach in Barbados surrounded by cute jetski instructors. It's a pretty wild affair which, if put in the power of the wrong girlfriend, can lead to Red Bull studios being put in to liquidation.
One line in “Bobby” (A track about a break-up, which although normally cliché, is the best thing GFOTY has released) stands out to me - “I can’t remember anything as clearly as the day that we broke up / the day that we fucked up”. It’s really simple but hits hard. Talk to me about it.
One time dis guy was drying my hair in the salon and he was super hot so I found out his full name and then went through 53 pages of people on FB till I finally found him and then I friend requested him and then he invited me out and he had this really swanky apartment in marylebone (<3) and then he kicked me out but then I found out he had a wife and kids :'( it was a pretty tough time as I'm sure you can imagine but I dealt with it pretty well and I just switched salons.
Is Tinder a good thing? I #swiperight on everyone and then get too anxious to actually talk to anyone.
Tinder's not cute at all. My thumb muscles only have the ability to move left so when I wanna swipe right I use my tongue and then when the time comes to go on the date I'm bed-ridden with the germs from my phone being inside my mouth :'(
Each artist on the label is making music under the guise of a character. They’re artists that’ve grown up in a HTML, text-speak world; a microcosm that, slowly, has been reduced to the bare minimum with phrases like I JUST CANT RIGHT NOW and miniature cartoon-pictures used to represent emotion. It’s a lexicon that is easily neglected in favour of intellectual-speak and can be negated as immature but it’s not; it’s feeling represented in a direct format.
PC Music’s releases are not the equivalent of the new-found internet dialogue, but they do feel inspired by it. They’re direct and to the point. And then they've got a dose of pop music nostalgia pasted in; a mix by GFOTY includes “Unbreak my Heart”.
Of course, you’ve got to take their music with a pinch of salt. The musicians behind it are tax-coded young adults who are aware of what they’re creating, not secondary school teens innocuously putting out something they’ve worked upon and is a by-product of their existence. But it is unique - and even if you hate-listen, you cannot deny the weirdly original quality.
This is the sort of thing that the internet was built for. Like “Bipping”, it will divide opinion, and that’s the point. This is the internet and we’re allowed to do whatever we want with it. Before, this sort of project would have only existed within a smaller, niche crowd, but now we’re able to seek it out and, if we choose, spend hours trying to work it out. I’d much rather do that than accept a force-feed of bland singer-songwriters with Christian names.
Follow Ryan on Twitter: @RyanBassil