“The underground can’t really exist anymore unless it’s been given a very specific protection,” reckons Danny L Harle – undoubtedly one of the breakout successes of the sugar-sweet PC Music collective. To be fair, he knows better than most the impact this kind of sprouting up can have. The start of 2016 saw ‘Broken Flowers’, Danny’s pitch-fluid breakout single, whisked from SoundCloud obscurity to daytime radio success, flooding Radio 1 with his hyped up, every-extremity-at-once pop. “I guess it helped being signed to a major label and having a big release on Columbia,” he smiles, referencing the Sony Music link-up that gave PC Music a much needed leg up at the tail end of last year.
It’s not just bigwig interest that’s dragging Danny and his mates out of the underground, though – their deconstructed, highly-magnified take on pop has hit the spotlight itself. “It’s just interesting how basically PC Music is involved in – amongst other things - an avant garde approach to pop music. Experimenting with the sounds and seeing what happens if you take things to extremes. Not being interested in it actually being popular, but playing with the sounds of popular music. And that experimentation accidentally lent itself to being involved in actual pop music!” he enthuses.
“The edgiest place to be is in the world of pop music.”
Danny L Harle
“It’s interesting. It made me realise that the edgiest place to be is in the actual world of pop music - it’s such a crazy world, they often don’t even notice if you’re experimenting with things. There’s a lot of areas for experimentation, and also opportunities to take the carpet from underneath the audience’s feet, and then put it back - to provide moments of imbalance and then return it.”
Imbalance is what Danny L Harle thrives on. “I often listen to sped-up pop music, or slowed-down pop music – usually something where something more extreme is done to it,” he explains. “A donk remix of a track, or something like that.” It’s something that feeds into his own work too, high-profile remixes for the likes of Years & Years and Panda Bear doing nothing to dampen his explorer’s spirit. “I like that aspect of a song,” he smiles, paraphrasing his childlike approach to reworking his subjects, “so let’s sort of fillet that out of a song and then take to an extreme of why I like it. Why do I like it? Let’s turn that up to eleven!”
The glint in his eye widens as he recalls equally frantic attempts to throw club nights at trendy London arts spots like Café OTO and Ambika alongside PC Music head honcho and old school-pal A.G. Cook. “We had so many nights cancelled, he laughs. “We were kind of too ambitious and there were health and safety worries and things like that. There were always issues with it, but I think if any of those nights had happened they’d have been amazing!”
It’s that desire to dive headfirst into unknown waters that’s core to Danny’s being. Looking ahead to a packed summer of festivals, he’s relishing both the afternoon slots and the late-night madness he’s being offered – “People look for a more chilled euphoria in the afternoon, whereas I think people want to hardcore their brains out at 2am!”
Those heading to Danny L Harle’s twilight hours excursions might want to pack a helmet, mind. “I was looking: oh my god there are some amazing t-shirt cannons,” he says, that eye-glint reaching blinding proportions. “And stress ball cannons! I’d have to be careful, because I think a t-shirt cannon’s not a good idea at a club gig, because you might end up getting sued… You get t-shirt Gatling guns as well – that’s the real peak! That’s gonna be the peak of my career, when I’ve got a t-shirt Gatling gun.”
Cooking up a storm
“Right now I’ve been listening to a track on SoundCloud a lot,” Danny explains, “which is just a very distorted compilation of Gordon Ramsey being very angry, just shouting stuff, and it repeats just certain words that he says. There’s an overwhelming distortion in the background, and you just hear occasional words just floating above it. For some reason I find it incredibly relaxing. It’s great, it’s called the Gordon Ramsay Orchestra – I’m kind of obsessed with it. I might have to listen to it on headphones during my gig.“
Taken from the July 2016 issue of DIY, out now. Subscribe below.