When Paul Griffiths (aka Babycakes), one of the most popular people on UK MySpace, announced he was holding a party in London, it sold out in an instant. From all over the country, his devotees have descended on
the capital to get drunk on Chupa Chups, chiptunes and all the other deliberately sweet things his emerging scene comprises.
A mouthy self-promoter and canny appropriator of Japanese kawaii culture (the fetish for the hyper-cute), Griffiths is the anti-Malcolm McLaren. But, like the redhead, he’s inventing and importing the musical scene to go with the clothes, revving up his fashion trade by building a community around it, expanding into his own record label and putting on parties. Unlike Malc, this lifestyle brand is a model of social conformity, a bastion of a very consumerist fetish for life’s cutest things.
In ‘I Heart Babycakes’ T-shirts and white hotpants that look like nappies, the younger siblings of generation new rave are taking up the glowbaton and running with it. With a median age of around 15, they’re about as old as Britain’s first major kawaii phenomenon, Pokémon, and five years younger than the Game Boy, whose blips and gurgles stud their soundtrack. Unicorn Kid offers the most crystalline expression of what it’s about: whistling-swirling chip melodies above a fruity kick-drum and a boy in a fluffy lion hat pogoing in front of a Korg. Before stripping to his pants, Henry Homesweet even flings his Game Boy off the stage for its own crowdsurf.
The fans aren’t exactly indie kids. They’re omnivorous, gauche internet pop fans more at home with autotuned sugar-crunk like Dot Dot Curve 🙂 than Kap Bambino. Which may explain why Frankmusik’s here – he’s got the Tank Girl haircut, and his biggest hit sounds like that fuckawful YouTube ‘sensation’, the ‘Numa Numa’ song. With their liberal use of levitational hairspray there’s even a dash of emo, one mirrored in Partyshank, whose screamo vocals play against rubbery techno.
Outside, the anti-party party, a small knot of yobs are brandishing waterpistols. They try to soak a few kids, jeer at them and invite them to fuck off before being chased away by security. You don’t know you’re a subculture until you’re demonised, and on that score the Babycakes kids are now well underway.