Interview with PC Music’s Danny L Harle

Interview with PC Music's Danny L Harle

Following last year’s release of his first EP, and swimming through successful touring, Danny L Harle was bubbling with good energy when I met him at the Omni Hotel in Downtown Austin. Through a lifelong pursuit in music composition, Danny has found a space within a wide-ranging pop music atmosphere. He releases music under London-based PC Music label. He insisted, with a highly sophisticated British accent, on posing for me with an empty flute to fulfill his champagne aesthetic fantasies during our interview at South by Southwest.

Northern Transmissions: Can you tell me a bit about yourself, the formation of your sound, as
well as PC Music?

Danny L Harle: So, wow, where does it start? Let’s start it off, I guess, with me playing bass guitar, like professionally playing jazz. Dinner cruise on a boat; knowing all the American Songbook by heart, in every key–that kind of a thing. I was also playing the Royal Academy jazz groups.

I’ve always been interested in extreme things. On the jazz end of things, it was kind of always like free jazz. What John Zorn was doing as well, it was very much an exciting era of music to be listening to. Through that, through listening to basically avant-garde music, I got into contemporary classic music. Everything can kind of combine in the avant-garde, which is sort of the beauty of it, really. Then through listening to contemporary classical music, I got into much older styles of music like baroque music, renaissance music, and medieval music. I developed an eclectic interest.

I realized through my liking of extremes and exploration of things that pop music was the most extreme, the craziest, and the most present, immediate music you can find. It’s a reflection of the craziness of reality, really. So then, I just started making music that was looking at pop music and sort of dissecting its structure and sounds. We (Danny and friend, Alex Cook—collectively PC Music) thought of the idea of writing music using the sounds of pop music, and maybe trying something different with it. I was approaching it from the perspective of a composer. So we kept on going down this road, and formed a duo called Dux Content, and created an album. We were peddling around for a long time, and no one was really interested. Éclair Fifi, credit to her, heard a track of mine and played it on Radio 1, overnight. Then, stuff started to snowball, and it was really exponential from there. That’s what eventually led to the South by South West shows, and the signings. It was just crazy.

NT: What is different this year for you as an artist playing SXSW, and also with the festival in general?

DLH: I played the PC Music showcase last year, and it was in the same venue that I played the Ultra Music showcase last night. I’ve managed to see some other bands, which is good. I didn’t get to see very much last year. I saw Chairlift, and A$AP Mob. That was great. I’m going to go and see my friends SOPHIE and Charli XCX play later tonight. I’m very excited about that.

NT: What is your process for collecting music and samples?

DLH: I like looking everywhere for music. I’m very open minded, because I listen to a very eclectic range of stuff. When I’m doing remixes, I like to turn the vocals into what sounds like a sample. I’m very interested in that world. For the Panda Bear remix that I did, I used his live drums and made a break beat out of it. I was very pleased with that because it was a kind of act of love towards one of my favorite rave tracks.

NT: How do you feel about the release of your new EP?

DLH: It was the perfect statement of who I am. There was interest in Broken Flowers, as well as interest in my other music, but the focus was on Broken Flowers. I wanted to put Broken Flowers out, definitely, as a track, like a mainstream release. But I also wanted to release it as a part of my identity, because if I just put that out in isolation, people would just think I’m some house guy. If they expect that from me, they’re not going to be very pleased when they hear the rest of my stuff. So, I thought I’d put it as part of an EP that shows the breadth of an idea, and that’s what I feel like the EP very successfully communicates. And now that I feel that has been achieved, I think I’m going to move onto a bigger project.

NT: So you’re headed to Miami after tonight, what’s the plan?[/q]

DLH: *pulls out his iphone and responds with:* “just having a bit of a ‘CHAMPAGNE MOMENT (sounds a sound effect from phone)’. Yeah, I’m playing Ultra Festival, which will doubtlessly be a ‘CHAMPAGNE MOMENT (sounds the sound effect again, just to clarify)’.”

~From the release of his Broken Flowers EP, to South by Southwest, to Ultra Festival, to whatever the future holds for Danny L Harle—it is without question that there will be many, many champagne moments.

Interview and Photo By Eric Stevens