First, everyone called PC Music, a collective of producers and artists headed by names like Charli XCX, A.G. Cook and SOPHIE, the future. Oft-likened to banging pots and pans together (usually SOPHIE gets that designation), PC Music, or hyperpop, or glitchpop (I can’t really keep track) has since been labeled as more an ‘expression of the present’ than a sign of the future.
In PAPER, Shaad D’Souza reviewed Charli’s quarantine album how i’m feeling now and said that PC Music and its contemporaries are more reflective of our ‘present dystopia’ than anything else. In The Atlantic, Spencer Kornhaber kind of snubs Charli’s magnum opus album (in my opinion) Charli, saying that Charli herself is just ‘playing with’ the future and that the album doesn’t have a ‘triumph’ track. Has he listened to ‘Gone’ more than once? Pfft.
In any case, PC Music is indubitably a key influence in the indie-pop space. I recently Facetimed with one of the newest offsprings from the PC generation (note: not PC as in politically correct, lol), college sophomore Luke Markinson, to talk about his PC and PC-adjacent inspirations and making and releasing DIY music in this hellscape year.
“I started making music on Vine,” he tells me, before I make an unfunny joke that he’s like an alt Shawn Mendes.
“Once Vine shut down, I wasn’t really able to translate my music and following somewhere else. But when the pandemic got bad, and everything started to close, I was bored and began writing music and working with producer friends and making things happen.”
Markinson, a Los Angeles native who just began his sophomore year at WashU in St. Louis, cites the typical crew as his influences; Charli and the PC Music collective, Troye Sivan, Tove Lo and The 1975, to name a few.
He also mentions artists like Flume, the megastar producer who first went viral by cutting together scintillating remixes of Disclosure‘s ‘You & Me’ and Lorde‘s ‘Tennis Court,’ as an inspiration. Louis the Child and Whethan are two other examples, also Midwest talents, of springboarding from remixes and re-works to putting out full original albums and developing their own sounds.
I ask Markinson where he records his stuff; being stuffed in a dorm in a pandemic can’t lend itself to the most comfortable music-making experience.
“Literally from my closet,” he says, laughing about the double entendre as his first song, ‘Never Alone,’ is about the relationship he had with his now-ex boyfriend.
“We were recording at my friend’s house inside before I came back to school, but then because of COVID-19 his parents were actually like, ‘Mmm we’re not comfortable with you being all inside right now,’ so we actually recorded some of the song out on his porch.”
‘Never Alone’ is a bouncy love bop, reminiscent of the cutecore (cutecore = word I just established which is like the Y2K aesthetic but re-fitted for 2020; it’s digitized and photobooth-y and emotionally motivated) that Charli’s quarantine album how i’m feeling now embodies, especially tracks like ‘detonate’ and ‘party 4 u.’
Fittingly, Charli herself found the song, and put it on an Apple Music playlist she curates. Queen of paying it forward!
Markinson says he commented on a post of hers where she was asking for people to share their music. He also replied to a similar tweet of hers, linking the song. Days later, he found out she must’ve seen his comment or tweet and liked the song enough to give it some playlist love.
In any case, Markinson followed up ‘Never Alone’ with a more cosmic, whimsical track called ‘Gimme Ur Love,’ and then a glitchy number with his latest, ‘Blastoff.’ I guess Gen Z loves PC!
When he’s not closet-recording, Markinson is studying for a psychology degree at WashU. You can see him perform soon; he tells me he’s playing at Uncultured Festival, which is running its next show November 20-22 on Minecraft and will benefit the Trevor Project.