Is This the New Punk?
Punks didn't give a fuck. Dux Content cares. The second commentary on the music video «Life Style» by London-based digital pop duo Dux Content. From the Norient book Seismographic Sounds (see and order here).
Dux Content subscribes to the philosophy and to the trendsetting contemporary art backdrop of its label, PC Music. Their relationship is summed up best by the rather fascinating Dead or Alive live-stream on YouTube, which showcased several PC Music acts. In short, this video defines work that is willfully cheap and bizarre art, vrai-faux DIY-techno, and an «I do whatever I want – I do it the way I want» punk attitude that art intellectuals want to believe in, but really don’t.
In the early days, punks weren’t able to broach the concept of adversity; they could only shout out their disgust with the world and the bourgeoisie got offended. Punks were nihilists in a way you wouldn’t get away with nowadays. Today, punks can only be romantic in the glamorously decadent sense of the word. Considering our overly conscious and über-marketed environment, they know too well what goals radicalism can aim for and how fast leaders will happily follow.
The references in Dux Content’s «Lifestyle» video stands out. From the brainwashing melody of «Popcorn» to discount electronicized Arabic trance, from sped up images of our society’s organic breakdown à la the 1982 documentary Koyaanisqatsi to Warhol’s Pop post-realism, «Life Style» is a short and clever instrumental track with a fine synthetic twist. It shapes its addictive melodic hook by playing with octaves and minor keys, an old trick reminiscent of Modern Talking’s efficiency. It is designed to divide the dance floor community into two: those willing to honor its basic euphoric pounding beat at the peak of leftfield club culture, versus those happy to finally shake it off at the loo.
Daniel Swan’s video is entertaining. It leaves imprints of zapping images that will fit each viewer’s obsessions (damn: are censorship warnings, X content, ITV, weight loss, and Shrek my very obsessions?). This manic graphic overload is juxtaposed with the static presence of an outmoded smartphone case, which symbolizes comfort and belonging (two values punks intended to destroy, while unconsciously building up their own ideal of comfort and sense of belonging).
You can get a multi-layered interpretation out of «Life Style.» Generally related to PC Music’s works and artists, you can also sense a strong musical education, fresh off-tunes, controlled freedom, a creative stage presence, and an ambiguously offensive marketing strategy. But let’s not get fooled. This video is highly thought out and well positioned. Just like other ephemeral «movements» in the recent past and unlike punk’s fundamental threat on society, PC Music will rapidly accept its obsolescence.
Let’s make it short:
Punks didn’t give a fuck. Dux Content cares.
PC Music? As in Pretentiously Cool Music.
No future? Exactly.
Published on January 14, 2016
Last updated on January 16, 2020
Michael Kinzer is the director of the Festival de la Cité Lausanne. He also manages artists and produces shows. In the past, he has worked for the national Expo.02 and has directed two theaters and a rock club.