When I found out that I was going on a date with Danny L Harle, I audibly cheered. Out of all the PC Music affiliates, I’ve always secretly assumed that he’d be the most fun to go out with. A.G. Cook is so swathed in elusiveness he’d probably just stand me up and make a song about it with SOPHIE called “Unlucky Bbz”; QT would most likely use her fictional charms to lure me into some sort of pyramid scheme selling energy drinks door-to-door in exchange for her love and attention; and GFOTY, a.k.a. Girlfriend of the Year, is clearly already taken. Plus, if you’ve ever seen Danny's set on PC Music’s Halloween Stream, or followed him on social media, you’ll know that his tongue is planted firmly in his cheek at all times. What more could you want from someone who you’re about to spend the whole day with?
Since forming Dux Content with AG Cook—a maximalist electro-pop duo that sounded like the trance music blasted at fairgrounds in the suburbs, pushed through a hyper-saturated filter of early 00s UK garage—Harle has become one of PC Music’s key figures. Last year’s monumental Broken Flowers EP (the first joint release between PC Music and major label Columbia Records) was probably the most avant garde thing A-listed by Radio One since those dudes tried to get John Cage’s “4'33” to Christmas number one.
When I asked where we were going on our first date, I was told that Danny was seriously keen on Madame Tussauds, which was fine by me because it meant I could leave the office for a whole day to stand next to wax versions of celebrities under the guise of work. He greeted me warmly at the entrance in a smart black blazer, and, despite our astronomical height difference, it felt like a promising start. We quickly made our way past the human jam of tourists (fast pass tickets, bitches), and headed into the bougie wax wonderland that is Missy T's.
Noisey: So, Danny, why were you so keen to come here?
Danny L Harle: It seemed like a fun, absurd and relevant place to go. I also love the fact they have photographs of the waxworks on the wall, even though there’s no need to do that. So far, it has surpassed all of my expectations, and I’m very impressed with the bizarreness of some of the people they have decided to put in here, like Shrek.
Who are you most excited about seeing?
Zoella, definitely. I think that’s another reason I chose Madame Tussauds. I’m really obsessed with the YouTube community because it’s a really strange new frontier of stuff. Like, what will the future of that be? Will we have a 50-year-old Zoella doing “back to school” makeup? Another thing that fascinates me is that their videos are so long and banal; it’s comforting viewing to be in the boringness of someone else’s life. Maybe it makes you feel better about your own life, which is interesting.
Speaking of which…there’s Zoella over there.
Oh my god! I have to take a selfie with her.
How did this place even get here? I’ve never really thought about it before.
It actually has quite dark political origins, which is weird. During the French revolution, Madame Tussaud would rifle through corpses so that she could make wax masks of dead citizens and use them as propaganda. They focused on criminals back then, but now it’s all about Kim and Kanye.
That is genuinely interesting information. Also… I can see Kim and Kanye.
Quick, let’s push in front for a photo.
The idea of taking a photo with a wax figure of Kim Kardashian taking a selfie contains so many layers. Are you into celebrity culture?
Yeah, I’m a huge fan. I’m not sure how much I like the “high art” slant on it, though. I like the maximalism and the absurdity of celebrity culture, but I feel like there’s no point in people turning it into art, because it stands alone as art already. It’s like trying to do a comedy impression of a comedian—it doesn’t really work. I actually feel like Madame Tussauds is the best artwork I have seen that is related to celebrities—the fact that it’s a working capitalist enterprise of wax effigies of celebrities is great. It’s the kind of thing you might expect in Tokyo. I am glad it exists.
It’s also quite an odd date destination. What’s the weirdest date you’ve ever been on? Do people still go on dates?
I suppose Tinder has sped it all up, and dates have become an established industrial process now. I went on a few dates with my girlfriend initially, although we just bypassed the awkwardness and acted like we were going out with each other from the beginning, and then we just carried on. It feels like a bit of a downer to talk about my girlfriend while I’m on another date, sorry…
It’s okay. I’m fine with us being polyamorous.
Ok, good. Well, pre-girlfriend, I was trying to be a normal person even though I was a huge nerd. I took two girls to Ronnie Scott’s jazz club because I thought that would have a cool vibe. The dates went well, I suppose, but I was so uptight. It actually makes my heart sink thinking about it, because I was so freaked out by girls. I didn’t really go out to parties or anything like that until much later in my life. I was just making music… sorry, can I pause for a moment? I want to sniff Tom Cruise’s hair.
What does it smell like?
Like elastic bands. Do you think it’s horse hair? Or maybe it’s Tom Cruise’s actual hair, because everytime he gets a haircut he puts it in a little envelope and sends it to Madame Tussauds.
Nah, I reckon he gives all his hair to scientology so that they can clone him after he’s gone.
I also think he’s way shorter than this waxwork makes out. He probably rang them up and said, “Make sure you add a few inches!”
Yeah, if I was a celeb I would ask them to make my legs twice as long. Anyway, what were we talking about before? I think it was you being anti-social. Did you come out of your shell at uni?
During second year, I did. I started hanging out with Alex [A.G Cook] and we’d do club nights together, but that generally had art project origins rather than social origins. Very few people I went to school with know who I am because I was in the music department the whole time. So yeah, I was a proper nerd.
I mean, being a nerd is a good thing when you’re an adult. I guess that’s kind of how PC Music started?
It happened organically, really. Me and Alex [A.G. Cook] started hanging out at uni and we had loads in common, just in terms of all the culture we were into, and we started making music together and realised it didn’t sound like anything else we knew. But it was just an authentic expression of what we liked hearing, and we weren’t really concerned with being part of other traditions. We just wanted to amuse ourselves and make something that didn’t exist. So it started off with Dux Content, and went on from there.
You studied classical music at Goldsmiths, right? What’s the difference between making that and producing pop music?
It doesn’t make sense to differentiate the two in my head because I just see it as a stream of music that I like to listen to. I suppose the main difference is that with classical stuff, you can write it for an active listener who will sit and give you ten minutes of their time and then think about what they heard. Whereas, with pop music, you don’t have that luxury—you have to make something maximal, that keeps people’s attention the whole time. You almost have to stuff the tune down their throat. I really love the intense clarity that is required to make pop music.
Looks like we’re in the pop section of Madame Tussauds too. We have to take a photo with the 1D lads. They will probably never be seen in the same room again.
I read somewhere that you’re more of an NSYNC* fan. What do you like about their music?
I like how clinical it is. The music that came out of Cheiron Studios was so perfectly balanced, and the choruses never start on the same beat as the verse, and there are these set rules that makes it seem like there is a formula to existence—but there isn’t really, there are just self-imposed rules.
What do you think makes a perfect pop song?
I’m baffled by some of the pop songs that are really popular, so my own rules don’t fit pop music in general. But for me, it has to have a really amazing, emotional melody and some fucking cool riffs in there too. I really like songs where there are very few lyrics, and I suppose a lot of people associate that with dance music. I see Alice DeeJay’s “Better Off Alone” as a perfect song, because it has the simplicity of a strong synth line followed by one evocative idea that’s hammered in repeatedly, but it’s still emotional. That’s what I’m attracted to.
That makes a lot of sense when listening to your Broken Flowers EP. I also feel like the style you just described is so characteristic of early 90s dance music.
Yeah, that was definitely the origin of that EP. That release came about because I was going to do a DJ set and just whack on a few 90s dance anthems like Haddaway's “What is Love”—but instead I decided to make my own version of that, as an expression of my appreciation.
I'm gonna have to stop you there, Danny. There are people over there dunking their hands in buckets. Are people making wax versions of their own hands?
They are! Shall we go and make one of ours? If you’re a couple, you can do it so your hands are intertwined.
Seeing as we're on a date, we should probably do that. It will be the most romantic thing I've done since that time I played the D'Angelo record while scrolling Happn.
After getting our wax hands put in a box to take home, a young guy who works at Madame Tussauds recognizes Danny, and says he’s been looking at his Snapchats. They talk for a while, before we continue walking.
Do you get recognized often?
Not on the street. It’s great to be noticed by someone in Madame Tussauds, especially because he was looking at my live snapchats and watching me get closer. Wow. That would have been such a drum roll for him.
I always want to talk to people for longer, but I think there’s an established amount of time that you’re allowed to do that before the fans get freaked out. The first time I got recognized, I spoke to the guy for so long that he made an excuse to leave, and then he just walked a few feet away. That was a low point—I’ve had to develop it from there.
I guess the good thing about these wax celebs is that they can’t run away from you when you stand with them. Is there anyone else you want to see before we leave?
We should get a photo with the Royal Family. That’s really important.
While we’re here, we should probably also get a photo with Henry VIII. It freaks me out that he’s got a special little pouch for his dick.
He’s definitely the type of guy that would have had a really tiny penis. It would explain a lot.
Thanks for a fun day. I have enjoyed it.
Me too. Thank you.
Let's smash the snack bar then head.
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