Eclectic, boundary-less, and endlessly energetic, hyperpop is perhaps one of the most exciting musical movements since punk rock in the 1970s.
To celebrate history in the making, we interviewed GFOTY, umru, and Count Baldor to explore this nascent, extremely online musical moment.
Count Baldor defines hyperpop as “a big soup made up of at least one hundred genres, and you can use any ingredients you like to make it.” The term ‘hyperpop’ became a part of popular genre nomenclature by playlist curators at Spotify when they grouped together similar-sounding artists, many of whom were involved with the label, PC Music. Some fans, critics, and opinionists categorize hyperpop as pop music with what they call ‘experimental elements.’ However, the sounds in the playlist and other hyperpop collections vary greatly with each producer’s approach, style, and choice of instruments.
umru shares, “Hyperpop became a label for such a broad range of music and influences that it really doesn’t mean much. The name’s been around longer than the [Spotify] playlist. Although the exposure of the name allowed great opportunities for some artists who really deserve it, seeing the power a company like Spotify can have over even the most independent, genre-defying new music is scary.”
He adds, “I don’t know a single artist who really associates themselves with hyperpop—it’s either too broad for artists who identify with more specific scenes or genres, or it’s too limited. I and a lot of my friends just want to make pop music, without getting boxed in by curators deciding what they think is too experimental.”
GFOTY illustrates this concept by adding, “I’ve never really thought GFOTY falls into a specific genre or category, but I guess GFOTY is quite extreme. So if I fall in the hyperpop category, then hyperpop, to me, means extremities.”
A commonality among hyperpop artists is their wide diversity of influences; yet, they rarely overlap with each other. Count Baldor tells us, “When I’m making music, I’m almost never thinking about it. If I’m taking inspiration from something, it’s usually UK garage music, the Wigan Pier Tunes playlist, jazz, TV show themes, ancient lyre music, dubstep, psytrance, techno, IDM, etc. I like to cherry-pick different things and see what works together in an exciting way.” He adds, “A lot of people who make hyperpop are not necessarily influenced by other hyperpop songs. Some are, and there are definitely artists in the scene who influence me. But, rather than attempt to emulate their sound, I more so admire their philosophical approach to music.”
GFOTY adds, “My music is quite literally based on a real algorithm of whatever I’m into at the time and what’s going on in my head. I listen to mostly dad rock music like Squeeze, Supertramp, and Madness, as well as 2005-era British indie music with a dose of ABBA, Queen, and Nirvana. When I go out, I’ll get ready by listening to Scooter or Pitbull. That element mixed with the embarrassing mixture of music I listen to daily must somehow create my own little version of hyperpop, which you hear in my music.”
Producers of any style of music are often most excited about their collaborations with artists and other producers. umru reflects, “I work the best with friends when we’re having fun. I was quite lucky early on with some major production credits, but I’ve never really had the proper ‘industry producer’ experience. I don’t send out lots of beat packs or anything. I think I’m much better at working back and forth, honing in on the production after receiving a recorded idea. In the end though, whatever makes a good song is a success to me, whether it’s finished in a day or I spend months overthinking the production.”
Count Baldor says that his collaborations vary quite a lot between different artists. He tells us, “Dorian Electra’s music, for example, is extremely thematic, so usually we’ll identify a theme before producing the track that I’ll keep in the back of my head whilst thinking in terms of how it should sound—angry, funny, disturbed, etc. On the other side of the coin, with someone like GFOTY, I’ll present her with a rough demo and she’ll freestyle some ideas and we’ll build it that way. I love adding sound effects and processing techniques to compliment the lyrics.”
He adds, “I also find that it helps to have a good friendship. It always brings a better atmosphere when you can take a break and just hang out and have fun too.”
GFOTY’s music often straddles expertly executed chaos in its electronic instrumentation and soberly sung vocals dripping in dark sarcasm. When we asked her where her signature style comes from, she shared, “It definitely comes naturally from some bizarre place deep within me! I guess everything I’m saying is very literal, almost to the point that it comes across as completely vapid. But, everything I sing about has come from a situation that’s happened or a feeling I’m feeling. I’m not very good at being serious in serious situations—I guess it’s a coping mechanism. It kinda works for me to take my feelings and make them a bit more fun, while still having some sense of a storyline (for most of my songs, that is)!”
In terms of the process for GFOTY itself, she shares, “The GFOTY process depends on who I’m working with at the time—every producer and session is different. That said, I need things to be done quickly without too much thought. Otherwise, I get bored and end up hating it.”
When making sample packs specifically, umru says, “Most of the material for my packs comes straight out of projects I’ve started—I do a lot of sound design in the process of writing or producing, rather than sitting down to separately make samples. I think that ends up being the best material that I already know can be used in the context of a song. I have hours of totally random, harsh-noise sound design as well, but I’ll even try to shape that into specific uses like risers or impacts. If it’s something I find useful or inspiring myself, I assume others would too.”
We asked each producer to share what advice they have for their peers and up-and-coming producers. Count Baldor, for one, said to “touch grass un-ironically.”
umru shares, “I’m sure this sounds corny, but I think working with friends and building up a scene with people you get along with will provide an infinitely better experience—and probably better music—than always shooting upward for the biggest placements or industry connections. Of course, you can’t avoid the music industry if you’re trying to make a living, but having the support of friends and a community that doesn’t depend on streams or playlists or ‘clout’ is so important.”
GFOTY adds, “Don’t do anything for anyone’s approval but your own. If it makes you happy, that’s all that counts, so don’t get anxious and worry that some people might not like it. At the end of the day, everyone will have their own opinion, but your opinion is what matters most! Number one all the way!”
Are you looking to explore the sounds of hyperpop? Check out exclusive sample packs from GFOTY, umru, Count Baldor, and more:
January 6, 2022