Introducing PinkPantheress, the internet experimentalist becoming a 2021 break-out
Armed with a debut mixtape out today, the UK musician relishes in the excitement of her short bursts of genre-bending brilliance.
In the space of just a few months, PinkPantheress has gone from a byproduct of the internet to one of its most exciting musical stars. Her always-short, always-intoxicating bursts of brilliance have become one of the internet's defining sounds in 2021, elevating her to the position where she's able to be profiled by UK Vogue and become the butt of incredibly niche jokes within the same week ("why Hulu ads be longer than PinkPantheress songs," wrote one viral tweet; "Pinkpantheress concert would b 6 min long," wrote another, "best 6 mins of my life.").
It began earlier this year, when her debut single - Break It Off, officially released in June - went viral on TikTok. Break It Off and the singles that soon followed - Pain just a week later, Passion and Attracted To You in July, the Mura Masa-assisted Just For Me in August - showcased what would soon become a signature PinkPantheress print; a mix of intimate vocals and driving, garage-influenced beats that top out at just over two minutes long - more than enough time for them to weasel their way into your memory and not leave for months following.
As such, every song furthered PinkPantheress higher up the ladder of 2021 breakthroughs. After an initial TikTok tease, Just For Me became a crossover commercial hit, aided with assisted production by similarly low-key producer Mura Masa. She's become a champion of both streaming and social media, was enlisted by GoldLink for a collaboration on his HARAM! record just a few weeks after her debut single arrived, and has several genre-crossing collaborations in the pipeline, if rumours are to be believed (UK Vogue listed Charli XCX as one, for example).
Throughout much of this rise, however, no-one even knew PinkPantheress' name - her entire presence down to just a few TikToks, and social media accounts littered with images of memes and off-centre shots of her surrounding. "I wanted this to be more about the music than how I presented myself," she told NME, in what would be one of her first major interviews. "It’s about how much you can control, and you can’t control everything, but I’ve decided that I can sometimes be incognito."
Still, even as PinkPantheress has been thrown into the heights of viral popularity, not much is known about the producer. We know that she was born in the UK to a Kenyan mother and an English father, and that she's someone that's been immersed within the internet's confines since she was a kid - something that shines within the music she makes (and the presence she creates for herself) all these years later.
Musically, her inspiration darts between bands like Pierce The Veil and All Time Low - she used to run a pop-punk Instagram fan page, she admits, and was inspired to start creating music after being infatuated with Hayley William's presence watching Paramore at Reading Festival - and the club culture she absorbed throughout going out in London, even then she didn't live there. "I found that going to parties and being in the car with my friends, who are really into garage, exposed me to this music," she says.
Now, they're two far-removed realms that come together underneath the PinkPantheress umbrella, as her hazy vocals dance amongst quick-firing rhythms that feel like an evolution of those pioneered throughout the UK's YouTube-born garage revolution. When she emerged, PinkPantheress sounded unlike anything else out there, almost as if Lily Allen became absorbed in the rush of nostalgic club culture, and decided to create an entire aesthetic immersed in it. Only except Lily Allen probably wouldn't make a twisted house beat from the infamous melody of Crystal Waters' Gypsy Woman (but then again, who knows?).
Now, PinkPantheress emerges with her debut mixtape To hell with it, which encapsulates the heights of her sound and the rich charm that dances amongst it. It's a masterclass in what's she shown us thus far and an opportunity for late comers to come on board if they haven't already (for some strange reason), bringing together the work she's shared throughout the last few months - all those aforementioned pre-mixtape singles - as well as a couple of new morsels, which show how her sound continues to grow and evolve as the PinkPantheress story deepens.
In all, it's a ten-track mixtape that wraps up within just 18-minutes - likely to be a record, at this point - but as we've found throughout the year, PinkPantheress doesn't need any longer to get her point across. Songs like Last valentines showcase the depth of her sound within just a short minute-long song, while the mixtape-ending string of unreleased tracks - Noticed I cried, Reason, All my friends know and Nineteen - literally last for just a few minutes in total, and yet, it's still crystal clear that PinkPantheress' future shines through these songs, as she explores potential future paths.
By the end, however, To hell with it proves that PinkPantheress' rapid-pace evolution has been worthy - and that the sounds that have come from this evolution are sure to continue pioneering a new crop of genre-bending new artists as we're already beginning to see. "I’m super excited to share this project with you all as my first body of work," she says on the mixtape. "I’ve been collecting songs that I’ve made this year and while I’m still developing my sound, I’m hoping these songs immerse you into your ideal fantasy world as you listen."
To hell with it is one hell of a time, and you can take a listen to it below:
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