Porter Robinson is someone who listened to that creative little voice in his head, and it worked. He knew big EDM sounds weren’t for him, he knew he had to take a break from festivals and he knew he had to do some soul searching to create something truly beautiful.
Released this August, Worlds has become an iconic album that will forever be remembered as a shift in priorities. Not only do we have the album to cling to for years to come, but if you’re lucky enough to snag a ticket we also have the Worlds tour. If you get a chance, see it. You won’t regret it. Laying his soul out on stage completely and whole-heartedly, it’s a unique glimpse into what is Porter Robinson’s own personal world.
We got the chance to chat with Porter about his tour, album and general opinions on music and life. Just as humble and sweet as expected, he’s the perfect candidate to follow Kill The Noise in our Gamechanger series.
Fundamentally as a human being I needed to start making music that I love and doing so I totally fell in love with making music again.
Creating something beautiful was more important than creating something useable for DJs
“The simple straightforward idea I had for the album once I started the first song was that I wanted to focus on it being beautiful. I’m one of those artists who has a lot of happy accidents, and then I embrace them. Sad Machine, Flicker and Divinity all felt a bit like that. Once I stumbled on a 90bpm with a super melodic four on the floor sound I was like ‘I’m going to do this again, many more times, this will be the sound of Worlds.’
I almost don’t even think of what I did as a reinvention because for me it was this move towards sincerity and casting off a lot of influences that maybe shouldn’t have been there. Fundamentally as a human being I needed to start making music that I love and doing so I totally fell in love with making music again.”
He says he’s nervous before shows, but you’ll never tell… (Trust me, I witnessed this first hand in Vancouver)
“I was really nervous in Vancouver! I almost wouldn’t want to watch that show again. Not because I don’t think it was good but because I think in these four weeks my singing and stage confidence has improved. I remember singing Sad Machine and I looked down at my leg it was shaking, I was so nervous. I almost feel like I never looked up at the audience that show, it’s like I really don’t even know who was there. I was really hyper and thankfully nothing went catastrophically wrong and I came off afterwards really really happy.”
Instead of letting other’s music directly inspire him, he takes from their philosophies.
“I tend to be more interested in artist’s philosophies and their approach to music rather than looking to an artist for a particular sound or inspiration. I think it can actually be really dangerous to do that. I would say that Daft Punk and Kanye West are my favourite artists in terms of their philosophy and their approach to music. They have this signature that embraces their own style in a way that feels really unique. They’re not doing corny ads or trying to hash tag viral marketing campaigns; they’re just very tasteful in everything they’re involved with, everything they do feels BIG and I was definitely reaching for that with Worlds.”
Someone told me I should try talk to the crowd more and get them more involved but I think I was inspired by how cold a show like A Cross The Universe, the Justice show is. They’re not trying to hype up the crowd or get them engaged or anything. It’s more like telling a story and the crowd just really in awe of what they’re looking at.
The support has been astronomically positive…
“The first time I made something I could really describe as beautiful was Language, and that started it all. When I tested the waters with Sea Of Voices, I took to Twitter to explain my approach and how writing has been for me, what’s been on my mind and why I didn’t want to make music for DJs anymore. This was right around when things were getting really homogenized around EDM and it was all starting to feel quite the same. People’s reactions to my thoughts were really positive. I was really able to substantiate that with Sea Of Voices and then Sad Machine so people could really see where I was going. I was met with less skepticism and criticism than I was expecting. I thought it was going to inspire a lot more hatred but people didn’t doubt my intentions.
I think in general there’s this false idea that people are inherently resistant to their favourite artists changing styles and I think that’s actually off base. People are afraid of their favourite artist compromising and changing for the wrong reasons. 99% of the time they start making pop music and fans aren’t convinced that’s what they want to be doing and they just want to make a ton of money. I think people were really supportive of my change because they truly believed that this was exactly what I wanted to be doing and it was sincere.
So many producers and other musicians and have come out and told me how much I’ve inspired them. It’s so funny to me because the music I was writing when I was 19 was totally meant to be music for producers and it was super technical with tons of chops and edits. But of course it was only once I hit my own stride and I made my own sound that it really had that effect on people.”
DJing for me isn’t this beautiful form of artistic expression, really it’s just super fun for me and I like doing it, like video games. So people have this perception that I hate fun electronic music and I don’t, it’s just not what I wanted to do with my own stuff.
He’ll be making a return to large-scale events very soon…
“I was talking so much about how I wanted to do this other thing with my own music that to come right out and DJ the biggest bangers at the biggest festivals was too much of a mixed signal for me to feel comfortable with. So I decided I would return to festivals once I had a live show ready and that’s why I took all that time off. I’m definitely not closed off to doing those kinds of festivals at all and I think the first festival I’m doing is Snow Globe. Top bills are Flume, Skrillex, Disclosure, and me. It’s a festival that I would totally fucking go see.
DJing for me isn’t this beautiful form of artistic expression, really it’s just super fun for me and I like doing it, like video games. So people have this perception that I hate fun electronic music and I don’t, it’s just not what I wanted to do with my own stuff. I listen to every Skrillex set that comes out and they’re so energetic and so fun.
I’m still the biggest Skrillex fan ever. Every song he plays in his shows is unique and different in some way. A lot of people stopped paying attention to dubstep in the last two years and it actually gave it time to do some really cool inventive stuff.
I’m also really crazy about Madeon’s new material; he’s been showing me stuff off his album and it’s really good. A couple other artists that I want to mention are Alesia, which is an OWSLA signed act that’s really good, as well as all their individual work. Also Point Point, their song Life In Grey is one of my favourite tracks; I opened my essential mix with it. It’s not a reinvention of themselves but it’s a music recommendation that I could really get behind.”
London/UK people: Porter Robinson is playing KOKO, October 30. Full details.