'Everything Is About Emotion' on Planet 1999's New EP
by Payton Dunn
27 June 2022
PC Music is often misconstrued as maximalist, churning out tracks that are produced like intricate machinery with seemingly infinite moving parts. Planet 1999 proves that nothing could be further from the truth on this is our music ♫, out everywhere now.
The EP is an exercise in restraint, moving through its succinct hyperpop lullabies at the speed of light — a mentality that’s almost always punk in nature, but here, it's as soft spoken as humanly possible. Or maybe it's more accurate to say "as inhumanly possible," as the EP keeps PC Music’s signature frantic autotune sound that slides between pitches at a robotic pace. Planet 1999 is pining for love on this is our music♫, describing it as both a collection of love songs and a "love letter to music itself." It all feeds into their motto of "everything is about emotion."
The shoegaze/synth-pop fusion sound they established on their 2020 EP, Devotion, has evolved radically since we last left off with Planet 1999, with the scales leaning way more to the pop end of things this time. They’ve also gotten a heavy visual update, now packaged with pixelated polygon visuals that evoke memories of early forays into 3D rendering by the video game giants. All of this places Planet 1999 firmly in the year 1999, in between the release of the Nintendo 64 and the Gamecube.
It’s only fitting that we hear about this visual and auditory update from the developer itself, so Planet 1999 shared an track-by-track breakdown of their new EP with PAPER, below.
The idea for the intro was to make it sound like you were launching the program. We worked with John McLalchlan to create a video, which feels like a movie intro, and have Zippy 1.0 introducing the EP.
On this one, the idea was to make a Planet 1999 ballad and push minimalism to its extreme. In the end, the song is composed of only four tracks. For the video, we used the background Gian Marco created for the press shot and had it animated to push the otherworldy mood of the track.
"i<3u" is about the difficulty of being truly vulnerable with someone. "My fingers forever missing you" is like a double meaning, of emotionally missing someone, but also "missing" as in failing to reach. The last line of verse two, "If I’m facing all my fears, could I ever rest in you," is quite explanatory in that way. You cannot truly connect with someone until you have really connected with yourself and got to know and accept your deepest fears. Only then can you really be vulnerable and truly love in a selfless way.
For this one, the idea was to make a pop song using both modern and old techniques. To give the song a '90s mood, we used string sounds, a bridge where the whole track goes through a phaser and the classic fade-out. We wanted the production to remain very minimalist with a main focus in each part of the song, the voice on both verses, the beat on the choruses.
We worked with Gian Marco to create a lyric video, using the weird device he created for the press shot. We wanted the video to keep the anachronistic feeling of the track with a futuristic device using a screen from the 2000’s. "dune" is about unrequited love, how sometimes you have to accept that love can take different forms and that some things are meant to remain in the realm of imagination.
The songwriting came together very naturally and the track was pretty much written in an hour or two. Also, "dune" is one of our favorite synths.
For this one, the idea was to make an evolution of our track "party." Like for "dune," there are almost no drums on the verses. On the choruses, the idea was to have a super bouncy beat and no lyrics as we did on "party," only vocal chops. For the video, we wanted to push the video game mood, so we worked with Alec West to create a video, which feels like a level of a PS1 game, having Zippy going through a whole journey to the ultimate crush.
For the last track of the EP, we wanted to make a track as shoegaze as possible with no proper pop structures, elements getting more and more effected, and a beat with only a kick drum. For the video, we worked with Reliquary House. The idea was to make something quite abstract and evoking materials/elements, like ice or gold.
"crush" and "gold" are both on the same wavelength in terms of meaning. They talk about how true love can motivate you to become a better version of yourself, how it can bring back colors to your life and how it can make you feel stronger than ever. It’s about being looked at by someone with so much kindness, understanding and benevolence, that it reminds you that it’s possible to look at yourself that way. From there, you want to rise up to this beauty they see in you and so you are able to give this beauty back.
For the outro, we wanted to make a noise track evoking faulty music gear like bad cables. At the end of the outro, the synths are sounding like a standby music when you're putting an old video game on pause or saving your game: "to be continued..." For the video, Zippy 1.0 is back and is getting trapped again in the music, like a wink to "Spell," the first track from our first EP.
Photos courtesy of Gian Marco and Noel Freibert