Interview: Porter Robinson Shares His New World
You may know Porter Robinson from his hit smash EP 'Spitfire,' or you may know the young producer for his highly buzzed new album Worlds. Regardless, you can't knock the 22 year old prodigy with an endless list of accomplishments already under his belt. With a whole new album and a cutting edge tour, you're going to want to keep your ears open to all the new music. VIBE sits Robinson down to talk all things music, his upcoming tour, and his departure from EDM on Worlds.
VIBE: You just kicked off on your new tour. You mentioned you're doing live instruments, singing, and DJng. Tell us about the process.
Porter Robinson: On the Worlds tour it was really important to me that it feels like a concert, not a party or a rave or whatever. I’m playing chords and lead melodies and singing, running multi tracks, triggering samples, playing drum pads, and so on. And I’m not really DJing so much - I’m only playing original music and nobody else’s tracks. It took forever to get it set up. Pretty much every waking moment since I finished the album was spent preparing the tour.
Sounds like a huge undertaking. I feel as if this whole process with the album and tour is a new personal growth for you. It seems you're making sure every facet of your career a self-expression of this new you.
I definitely think so. It’s more so about not wanting to be misunderstood. I’m directing all of the visual art, single covers, concept art, tour visuals, saying no to virtually every marketing idea, the show, and of course the music. I wanted to make sure my vision was expressed across all categories.
Do you feel like your past work lacked that expression? Or is this a more coming of age thing?
Yeah, I do think my past work lacked it. I was kind of thrust into the career without having much of an idea for what I wanted to express. I don’t think my music was ‘about’ anything - it was more about chops, about skill, and about being a good producer. I wanted to show off my technical, not creative ability. Then I found myself with an audience and was weirdly dissatisfied with what I’d been doing. That’s what led me to writing more personal stuff.
Your new album has been regarded as the shake up EDM needed. How do you feel about that?
I wasn’t really interested in changing EDM or even being involved with it at all. EDM, to me, is music for DJs and party music, which, in my opinion, Worlds is neither. I guess it’s possible that the album will change some peoples’ perspectives, or influence some DJs to write more listening music, but that wasn’t my goal. I wasn’t thinking about the music scene very much - I was thinking more about fantasy and escapism and nostalgia and all the things that the music is actually about to me, writing music that’s directed towards a music scene is too ‘meta’ and overall pretty uninspiring.
You took on a lot of responsibility with this, meshing genres and crossing people over to dance music. Do you recognize that?
That’s so weird because I don’t think of it at that way. My philosophy, in general, is just to write the music as sincerely as possible, regardless of the impacts it may have. There was a time where I seriously thought that Worlds might lose me everything (which seems like a silly notion now). I think it’s critical to turn off the worrying part of your mind while making music.
I guess what I mean to say is, I had no expectations as far as what the music would ‘do’. I just really, really direly wanted people to hear it.
What do you see as the next step for yourself? Or the next step in dance music in general?
I’m going to keep writing music. My favorite moments of Worlds are “Sad Machine,” “Divinity,” “Flicker,” “Fresh Static Snow” and “Goodbye to a World.” Those are the ones that, in my opinion, best capture the atmosphere of the record. “Sad Machine” was the last song that I wrote, and in a weird way, I feel like I’ve just hit my stride with that one stylistically. In my imagination, I see myself writing more music like that, but god knows I change my mind about that sort of thing.
Do you think your love for left field genres influenced the success of this album? I hear a lot of MGMT but know you're a huge Kanye fan…
The songs at the core of the record, or at least, my favorites (the ones I mentioned in my last answer) - are probably my favorites because they don’t sound like much else to me.
Daft Punk and Kanye are my all-time favorite artists, for sure. Yasutaka Nakata (the producer and songwriter of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu) is another all-time favorite and massive influencer to me.
As a younger individual in the industry, what are some tips for others that are new to the business?
The people who really succeed are the ones who really stand out. A lot of people can find metered success by copying the flavor of the month, but that seems sad in the long run.
By: Devan Welch/ Rubix Management