♩tribute: pc music♩

note: originally sent via e-newsletter on 7/20/23, footnote links broken

hello world,

as some of you know, PC Music, the influential label led by A.G Cook, recently announced that after a decade of activity, 2023 will be their final year of new releases. note: if you’re uninterested in this, feel free to stop reading now lol

the announcement dropped when i was at trans camp, alongside “10”, a 100 minute mix (10, 10-minute mixes, by 10 different artists[1]. there was also a series of 100 files that had to be individually unlocked using passcodes, revealed to be rare PC assets (from midi clips to one-shot samples to high-res .pngs used in official releases). i listened to the mix in stops and starts during my breaks, and i mourned the end of an era, but never had enough time to properly reflect, so here we are!

if someone asked me what, over the last 10 years, has had the greatest musical impact on me, or contemporary music as a whole for that matter, the answer would be the same. PC Music has been written about and theorized to death (from long-form journalism to academic papers to youtube lectures), so rather than consider its cultural impact, i’d like to reflect on its impact on my own life. PC Music debuted the year i entered adulthood, and has soundtracked my life since then (18-28). i’ve kept up with its prolific (and esoteric) output and historic lore through rapt attention to their official platforms, as well as fan servers (, PC Music Shitposting, PC Music Queerposting, PC Music Discord), and have done my best to tune into all the livestreams, official chat servers (The Disc, Apple Guild), and exclusive drops - which often feature easter eggs and references to past material.[2] many of the former and current artists on the roster have had deep influences on the way that i listen to, make, and think about music. i’ve made friends through a shared appreciation, and indoctrinated others, animatedly serving up listening parties complete with trivia that can last as long as someone’s attention does. i’ve played PC tunes in DJ sets, and incorporated samples in my own music (i wedged a Planet 1999 acapella from the PERFECT_DOWNLOAD_001 pack into a Broken Spear song). i’ve analyzed midi from MIDI COLLECTION 01 + 02. i’m by all definitions a fan..

here are 25 PC releases (many off the beaten track) that have meant a lot to me in different ways, with some commentary :’)

  1. 2013 - A.G Cook Live at Power Lunches - this is technically pre-PC as it was January and the label debuted in June. a bit more of A.G’s former goofy “DJ Bellzz” project, but pretty indicative of the decade to follow.
  2. 2013 - Hannah Diamond - Pink and Blue - i was a month into college when this dropped, which started it all. coming from the seattle punk scene, i was baffled at what i was looking at / hearing. the artwork looked so professional, and yet there was no information anywhere online about this artist. an amazing feeling of wanting to know more. i was familiar with vaporwave, whose aesthetics were amateur, so this polished cover art really threw me for a loop - who is Hannah Diamond? i discovered it because it was liked on soundcloud by a friend in the portland band Hausu. i think Vektroid (of Macintosh Plus fame who was living in Portland at the time) maybe reposted it first… would make sense that a pioneer of vaporwave would be an early adopter.
  3. 2014 - GFOTY - Secret Mix - i remember hearing this for the first time in the geology library at Columbia[3], listening on Marshall over-ear headphones and just headbanging. it was the most extreme, outrageous music i’d ever heard. at 4:14, i felt something i had never felt before, that PC Music is so good at doing. the uncanny defamiliarization / re-beautification of something ugly. the punishing vocal sample loop recontextualized with beautiful midi string chords. i immediately passed my headphones to my friend Canada across the table, who said “sounds like SOPHIE” and pulled up BIPP.
  4. 2014 - Bubs - Oneohtrix Point Never & A.G Cook - i don’t love this track other than the opening melody, but mythologically feels really important that OPN shared this in 2014 - two musical powerhouses joining forces. OPN was moving on from verbed out analog Juno arpeggios to dry midi sequences (Garden of Delete incoming..), and this was an early hint. they also released a collab later on under the name “Guys Next Door”. OPN also let A.G use his studio, where the latter wrote a lot of Apple (which includes a cover of OPN’s “Animals”). what a duo.
  5. 2014 - Palette - Tielsie - i actually discovered this song a lot later, and love that it samples Justin Bieber’s christmas album (“Fa La La”).[4] i always get chills at 2:15 forward, and when the trance pluck at 2:51 comes in!! tears. a masterpiece that i still return to often
  6. 2015 - Pop Cube Trailer 1 - Hannah Diamond and A.G Cook In The Studio (Video) - this was on the cusp of the Red Bull Music Academy collaboration that funded the “Pop Cube” event and manufactured real energy drinks for the “Hey QT” project, blurring fiction and reality as postmodern art project became corporate sponsorship. i loved this video which in many ways gave an authentic look under the hood of the PC process, while on the surface seeming silly / ironic. i would wager that AG and Hannah made this together with no Red Bull representatives involved. inspired a faux interview i did in 2019 as “Julius Metal” as part of the Truth Pieces roll out.
  7. 2015 - Life Sim - IDL (Music Video) - if i had to pick an all-time favorite song or all-time favorite music video, this would be it. at the time it felt revelatory, and still holds up. Daniel Swan is a genius (his work on “Invisible” by Hannah Diamond is stellar, which is my other all-time favorite music video). feels like it was created by an AI for aliens to understand human emotion. simultaneously extremely artificial and authentically emotional - PC’s modus operandi. wonder how long it took Daniel to chop up all those blu-ray trailers (love that “Holy Motors” made the cut)
  8. 2015 - EASYFUN - EASYMIX - the arpeggio drop at 5:15 gives me chills everytime. i remember discovering this ABSOLUTELY EPIC thread that gives a music theory breakdown for the harmonies which was so validating[5]. the intro treatment/defamiliarization via reharmonization of “Break Free” by Ariana Grande was also very validating, as I was stanning her pretty hard at the time (“My Everything” had dropped recently, and she wasn’t a household name yet).
  9. 2015 - A.G Cook feat. Hannah Diamond - Drop FM - for years I treated this as the masterclass in songwriting and music production, which eventually led in 2017 to writing the lead melody for what would eventually become “Spark” by Vera Mist (2020) which is a pretty direct response to Drop FM (only took me 5 years lol). i remember rinsing Drop FM at a subway station in Seoul analyzing every detail, and playing it for my brother who was like “wtf is this”. i actually never listened to it slowed down / mapped out the parts/sections, which i should do sometime.
  10. 2015 - A.G. Cook - Boiler Room DJ Set - such a wacky set that freed me from my negative feelings towards CDJs, having previously only seen them used to play beat-synced club tracks back to back (boring!!). extreme use of tempo fader, cue button as sampler, etc.
  11. 2016 - Super Natural - Danny L Harle feat. Carly Rae Jepsen - i have a secret bandcamp that’s this song just at different speeds for 20 minutes which i would play on loop at work lol. like the Red Bull collab, this felt like a reality-crossover event. especially given that one of A.G’s first ever edits was of “This Kiss” in his 2013 Radio Tank mix. this also came in a moment after my really deep obsession with CRJ[6] (my birthday twin!), in the lead up and eventual drop of Emotion, which is my most listened-to album of all time (next to 1989). i remember rinsing Super Natural during a trip to sweden / norway, and realizing that it was the same chord progression the whole time, which blew my mind. master class in Danny songwriting.. and he got CRJ to say “euphoria”!! the video was also a big deal as it was directed by Bradley and Pablo, who went on to work with Charli on the “5 In The Morning” video and her documentary “Alone Together”.
  12. 2016 - Hannah Diamond - Fade Away - perfect pop song. The 2:51 melodyne vocaloid-esque bends changed my life, as did the 3:25 anti-drop. probably my most listened to song of all time. fun memory with my bff sam in hong kong, walking around escalators and singing this acapella style from memory from start to end. also fun memory being on **** with friends watching a movie, and leaving the room to hook up my phone to my friend jack’s hi-fi and blasting Fade Away to have a dance party by myself, and then everyone joined to dance, with my friend zoe singing along (having been subjected to it so often lol), and warmly saying something like, “this song is you”.
  13. 2016 - The Argument - GFOTY - heard this later on, but was pretty blown away. it’s literally GFOTY reading the Rhymezone page for words that end in “um”, followed by a guy reading the Rhymezone page for “urd” but with a really smart pop instrumental. i also love how she literally interrupts the song with “WHAT DO YOU MEAN??”. really showcases PC’s penchant for marrying the absurd and the beautiful.
  14. 2017 - Quinn Thomas (Short Film) - originally leaked in 2017 as part of the “Hey QT” project, a collaboration between A.G, SOPHIE, and Hayden Dunham (who now releases music as HYD). it built up a lot of the lore of the QT character with a trip to Seoul, and included an ambient score by A.G including….
  15. 2017 - - - this was released in addition to 3 other .mp3s (before it was included in 2018’s Month of Mayhem), that were untitled, but when you opened them in iTunes or looked at their metadata, had cryptic titles like “”. i LOVE how the vocal melody from “QT” is interpolated as an ambient pluck at the end (“hands on my body.. think of me boy”) - further worldbuilding.. it sounds like a Life Sim track, but technically isn’t. which leads me to…
  16. 2017 - Lightning Lipgloss Life (Event) - this one is fun because i get to hyperlink a video i personally took!! i think literally the day of, A.G / PC dropped a cryptic flyer on instagram of a party happening that night at H0L0 in ridgewood, nyc. a lot of the artist names were unfamiliar, but i knew i shouldn’t miss it given how rare PC events are, and rallied with cassidy (who was also a head). one of the acts listed was “Tonight Burns Red”. as we entered the venue, it became clear that “Tonight Burns Red” was a cryptic alias for QT, who was on stage playing a signature set. i screamed and ran onto the dance floor. it was sweaty and packed with other devotees. the clip i hyperlinked also includes a clip of what we now know as HYD’s “The Look On Your Face” which didn’t get a release until 4 years later (2021). my video is the only public recording of that set i’ve seen. “Be A Glitzy Hue” was A.G x Caroline Polachek, and all of us were wondering who the woman singing on the ladder was (“wait is that the girl from Chairlift?”) - obviously before her solo explosion.[7] Dorian Electra also performed, before their explosion. A.G confirmed that he is Life Sim (“sorry, Life Sim couldn’t make it out tonight”), before playing a Life Sim set, and then his own solo closing set sounded very Skrillex-y, with distorted blast edits in the same vein as his Me4U remix - which was unexpected, but we rolled with it[8]
  17. 2017 - A.G Cook - Number 1 Angel Track-By-Track Notes - Number 1 Angel was the beginning of AG & Charli’s domination of pop. this dropped as part of Month of Mayhem, and i vividly remember reading this in my tiny bedroom in Harlem. so amazing to see under the hood of such a pure collaboration - especially love A.G’s thoughts on the ending of “Drugs” which always took me out.
  18. 2018 - Unlock It (A.G Cook Ambient Remix) (3:00-5:00 in link) - someone had previously uploaded this as a split track, but can’t find it anymore. this never got a standalone release, but i always dearly loved it and have used it as an intro for many of my dj sets. i looked up the vocal sample and it’s voldemort at the battle for hogwarts in the last movie (when he projects his voice into everyone’s head) lmao!! such a beautiful plucked riff.
  19. 2020 - A.G Cook - 7G Listening Party (Flyer) - on Zoom, A.G played all 49 songs of the album followed by an afterparty. spent an entire August weekend afternoon in south carolina indoors on the computer lol. worth it: was really intimate - obvious that the people who showed up were heads. such an experience to hear the whole album unfold track-by-track, with people spamming “7” in the chat lol - warm sense of community.
  20. 2020 - A.G Cook - Live at Secret Sky - wait, acoustic guitar is cool again?? this was before any of the announcements for 7G or Apple. felt so raw, confessional, and unexpected to see him go full singer-songwriter, which felt like such a power move after such a quiet / hyper curated / constructed digital presence (though of course it devolved into synthesized chaos shortly after). got chills at 6:33 when the ??? track played (which we later learned was “Soft Landing”), and his title comes on screen - very epic.
  21. 2020 - Lifeline (100 Voices) - Apple Guild Choir - this was part of the Apple Guild on Discord, where participants were asked (by a bot with an attitude) to upload acapellas of “Lifeline”. track itself doesn’t sound great, but my voice is in there lol, and chronicles a really special time of camaraderie and community in that Discord server. so many creative and funny people in there, A.G fans are the best
  22. 2021 - Dream Logic - A.G Cook - this was the first official A.G mix in a while, and he had already released an absurd amount of music right before, with dual debut albums at 49-tracks and 10-tracks respectively, with a 28-track deluxe remix album mashing the two together. i love the Danger Incorporated track, the Spinning remix (which then got a proper release), and Soulbreaker (which sounds like a “Lifeline” rival that could have made Apple).
  23. 2021 - A.G Cook - “Start Up” Apple Promo - another reality-break/corporate crossover moment. especially given all the jokes around his album “Apple”, which went pretty over the top with apple-related lore (Apple Guild, Appleville, deep visual lore with Timothy Luke’s references of Isaac Newton’s Apple, etc) – and the fact that A.G has always given Steve Jobs vibes, normcore soft-spoken mastermind (fun fact: Charli XCX dressed up as Steve Jobs in the “1999” video) - this felt really prescient.
  24. 2022 - Parrot Sings Let The Bodies Hit The Floor (A.G Cook Remix) - the defamiliarization of popular songs is such rich emotional material (in my ambient mini-mix “1004” i sampled a children’s choir singing Rihanna). classic A.G move of taking something absurd / funny, putting some beautiful chords on top of it.. who would have thought a parrot screaming would make me feel something?
  25. 2022 - Charli XCX’s Best Song Ever - A.G Cook - not strictly PC Music, but still reveals a lot about A.G’s thinking as applied to PC. i think his answer to “what song would you want played at your funeral?” being “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas, and his explanation of why, reveals a lot about the PC ethos. as does his reflections on Kanye’s The Life of Pablo rollout, in terms of the music vs. the release.

good job making it to the end, you’re a head now!
personal computer music forever ♩

[1] the “10” theme tracks with A.G’s playful numerology, which he also explored in his record “7G”, which consisted of 7 “discs” of 7 tracks each. he also released a mix in celebration of “5 in the morning” by charli xcx, called “5:00-5:05”

[2] to my knowledge, there’s no single comprehensive archive of all of PC Music’s output because there’s simply too much to try. the closest “master” list (on likely covers less than 50%, though some people on The Disc recently made a spreadsheet covering all of PC’s video output, which is staggering and fills in a lot of the gaps. the “Unreleased PC 2” account on soundcloud also covers a lot, as well as hundreds of fan-made “rebuilds” of beloved tunes that may never get an official release.

[3] fun fact: A.G Cook is the son of Peter Cook of Archigram. i learned this while i was studying architecture at Columbia, and it rocked me that much of what i was learning academically (critical / speculative architecture as political polemic) was a result of Peter Cook, whereas so much of what i was learning musically / culturally came from his son..

[4]  fun fact: independently of this tune, Justin’s “Purpose” (2015) directly birthed Broken Spear, as my Ableton experiments chopping up songs from that album resulted in the first songs for my first electronic album “True”.

[5] “The subdominant chord brings with it feelings of safety, satisfaction, and relaxation. In the baroque period, composers would often modulate to the dominant key for feelings of excitement and anticipation, then in later classical music, composers started modulating to the subdominant precisely to achieve an opposite effect.

Upon reaching the subdominant chord in this context, Keane adds a booming cushion of sub-bass, a rising siren, cranks up the reverb, and to achieve ultimate sensory overload, samples the "aah ah-ahh aaahh" from Domino, to echo my soul sighing with contentment at the overall beauty of the music. I can't say enough what it feels like when I hear all of this happening at once.

Truly, it's like witnessing the heavens opening up, and ascending into a dreamy orange sky, as depicted on the art for this release.”

[6] can’t forget that A.G / Charli got CRJ to sing on “Backseat” a few years later.. unreal. another fun fact that there’s a version where CRJ’s verse is replaced with Rina Sawayama that was a London Pop2 live exclusive.

[7] more trivia: Caroline has been quoted with saying that she originally connected with PC Music by sending A.G Cook a cover of “IDL” by Life Sim, which she notoriously loves (she posted a story of playing it in a DJ set in the Guggenheim a few years ago..) with all the notes replaced with her voice. this eventually became “Idyll” on A.G’s debut album 7G. that cold call likely also led to the Danny L Harle connection, but that’s speculation lol

[8] another fun fact. “the look on your face” by hyd (with writing/production by A.G) was a big inspiration for what later became “dragonflies”, a song i made with Sluurpee, aka cassidy, who had gone to the show with me. in 2019, i was invited to perform at “Clickbait”, an unofficial afterparty for charli xcx’s nyc tour date curated by umru and my friend jake (Club Cringe). it was held at H0L0, the same venue where the PC party had been held 2 years prior. that night, cassidy and i performed “dragonflies” on the same stage that had originally inspired the song, sharing a bill with Umru, who by that time had been signed to PC Music. full circle!!