“Pretty in Pink. The Breakfast Club. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off… I’m really into all the John Hughes films, all the feel good ones.” Pizzagirl – real name Liam Brown – is telling me over Skype from his bedroom in Liverpool when I ask about his favourite movies. On the wall behind him is a ripped A4 poster of cult 80s actress Jennifer Grey with her eyes blacked out, and the rest of the room is bathed in neon purple light. “These lights can change colour,” he says in a scouse accent, arms gesturing around him. “but I like to keep them purple because it reminds me of Drive, or 80s LA or something.”
At only 20 years old, Pizzagirl was barely alive in the 90s, let alone the 80s. But that doesn’t really matter – you could even say the generation who grew up online have consumed more 80s culture than those who lived through it, because they’ve been able to watch and listen to everything, back to back, from various angles. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say they’ve soaked up a specific version of that decade which has been made accessible – one consisting of synths, thwacking power ballad drums, bright neon colours, keyboards and all those classic movie scenes we’ve been brought up knowing all the words to like religious scripture.
I mention all of this because Pizzagirl’s newest track “Highschool,” which we’re premiering above, is exactly the kind of thing you might make if you’d been burying yourself in teen romances, 80s music and internet nostalgia. It’s full of bright, clean colours and bouncy electronics, with lyrics full of syrupy adolescent yearning. But then these warm, 90s acid house piano lines come through, and you’re reminded about the ways in which nostalgia can overlap sometimes. “I just love how people in the past thought the future might look like,” Pizzagirl says, speaking about this combination. “The aesthetic of today feels very cold and clinical – it’s nice to whack people in the face with something cheesier.”
Pizzagirl hasn’t been releasing music for very long – he’s barely out of school, and the oldest videos on his YouTube channel date back to around seven months – but there’s quite a lot of them. When he’s not out in Liverpool eating pizza (his favourite is a ricotta and caramelised onion slice they sell at a spot nearby called ‘Nightcrawler’,) he’s alone in his room making tracks on a £12 keyboard from a charity shop, or else going down internet holes until the early hours of the morning. “I’ve been up all night again watching conspiracy videos,” he tells me, explaining why he’s yawning. “They freak me out. I was probably watching makeup tutorials and film reviews at first, and then it just led onto something about John F Kennedy or whatever.”
He hasn’t always felt so free about expressing his interests. He tells me he had fun at school, but he didn’t always feel totally comfortable. “Liverpool high schools can be scary places!” he says, half laughing at the memory. “They’re not so good for being creative because you get shut down for it. I’d never wear a pink top in high school,” he adds, pulling at the baby pink tye dye t shirt he’s wearing now. “There was a lot of toxic masculinity... it’s nice to be able to release that now I’m by myself; I can make up for all those years of keeping my head down.”
These days, though, he can do what he likes. Later this year, he’ll be playing a string of gigs across the country before heading to Paris, which he says he’s excited about because he’s never actually been abroad. He wants to visit the Eiffel Tower, maybe peep the Mona Lisa at The Louvre. But as for today, he won’t be going much further than the little neon purple palace he has created for himself. “I might clean my room and see what’s on YouTube,” he shrugs “maybe get a meal deal and make a song. Or maybe I’ll get a pizza and look at some conspiracies, it’ll be so fun.”
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