The EDM scene spent itself quite quickly. When you have the big majority of a “scene” copy-pasting hit songs, there’s bound to be some quick burnout from the fans and some artists alike. Even though Porter Robinson exploded during the height of the EDM movement, he never quite identified himself with it. And that was a good thing.
Porter Robinson began producing at only 12 years of age. He draws some influence from video games, japanese culture, and anime. For years he honed his skills and, by the time he was 18, he had an EP deal with Skrillex‘s OWSLA, one of the hottest electronic labels in the business. He joined young, exciting acts like Zedd and Madeon in spearheading the new generation of electronic music.
…And like Zedd and Madeon, he soon steered clear of the “copy-paste”, “verse-drop-chorus” formula of the traditional EDM sound. Instead, his music is an exercise in experimentation, in combining influences to create something truly special. Sure, he had a couple of hits — what I like to call “rock hits”, songs that were appealing enough but were constructed with more rock than pop elements — and headlined in some of the most popular electronic music festivals on the planet. This catapulted Porter Robinson into the top places of DJ and producer lists all over, granted him worldwide recognition, and made him a collaborator in some of the biggest EDM hits ever written (Zedd‘s Clarity is one of them).
Then Worlds (2016, Astralwerks) came. His debut album. His chance to make the music he always wanted. What resulted no one could have predicted: an excellent indie, dreampop album, more akin to M83 than to Avicii. Worlds features some of my absolute favorite tracks ever: Divinity, Sad Machine, Sea of Voices, Fellow Feeling… and even though it doesn’t feature the traditional sound you’d expect from an electronic album, it still is, very much so, an electronic record. Carefully picked synths, vocal layers upon vocal layers, deep, provocative bass beats, and music I can picture being composed in a dark room, over headphones, late at night, and not at a tropical Miami beach condo, by the pool. This is personal.
Along with Deadmau5 and Madeon (of whom we’ve already talked about here, and with whom Robinson collaborated on Shelter), Porter Robinson is one of my favorite musicians. Recently he had a meltdown of sorts, declaring that all but 11 of his songs were “unofficial now”, like he was disowning them. Fortunately, the 11 tracks he picked are fckin incredible songs. So, as long as he keeps on making some of the most amazing music I’ve ever listened to, I have no problem with it. Hats off to you, Sir.
Catch Porter Robinson on tour.
Listen to Porter Robinson below.