It’s 12pm in the City of Angels (Los Angeles), which means it’s 9pm in the City of Strikers (Johannesburg). “I just woke up,” Porter Robinson groggily proclaims after our initial introduction. Well, I’m in my fluffy slippers, old man pants and sipping warm milk, Porter; so, technically speaking, we’re both tip-toeing in the Sandman’s desert right about now. Suddenly, his internal alarm clock goes off and Porter comes to life with a chuckle, nonetheless, I bet he still wishes he was tucked away in his warm hotel bed.
“When you’re constantly on the road and being exposed to new music, it’s hard not to be inspired by new stuff all the time…”
Porter Robinson is Homesick
Apart from being Skrillex’s BFF, exchanging high fives with deadmau5 and Tiësto at the biggest EDM festivals in the world, and becoming a seasoned road warrior in the process, Porter is still very much a regular twenty-year-old, who misses hanging out with his high school friends from Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
“Yeah, I totally miss them,” Porter affirms. “Even though I don’t see them quite so much, I think they’re all supportive. Whenever I’m [playing] locally, I always invite them out and treat them well. I spend a lot of time missing home. My home is one of the most important things in the world to me. Not to say that I don’t like my immense privilege of getting to tour all the time. Touring is amazing; I love getting to share music with people – but I also truly love being at home with my dog [and friends and family]… I get homesick.”
EP vs. LP
Not trying to depress the poor guy before he has even gulped his first cup of coffee, the conversation shifts to the general feedback of his most recent EP, Spitfire.
“I find the thing that people have told me about it is that it’s kind of multi-genre. I’ve been known for doing electro-house – [yet, this EP] incorporated other tempos and IDMs. But yeah, it’s so weird, you know? When you’re constantly on the road and being exposed to new music, it’s hard not to be inspired by new stuff all the time. So, Spitfire feels so old to me
now; I hardly feel like the same artist who made that,” Porter says.
This declaration obviously leads to the discussion of new music. In previous interviews with other publications, Porter has been sidestepping the question: will his next body of work be an EP or an LP? I decide to push for a more concrete answer and ask if he’s made a decision yet.
Porter clarifies, “The thing that will determine it, ultimately, is just the volume of music that I make. I’m going to self-impose a deadline on this thing; I’m giving myself a point, and at that point it needs to be done. It just depends on how much I have done by then. I guess, regardless of how many tracks it has, I want this to have the soul of an EP and the heart of an LP. Things will be arranged in a coherent way and it’s going to tell a story. [Whether it ends up an LP or an EP], this will be structured more like an album – no matter how many tracks end up on it.”
Speaking Everyone’s Language
One already-decided musical output we can expect is Porter’s recently-completed collaboration with British beat-master Mat Zo.
“In terms of the sound, it’s got something in common with Language – but [it’s also] got this disco, soulful thing to it. We used this classic disco-diva sample for the vocals, and it’s played on some pretty powerful, emotional instruments. Basically, it started off as one of Mat Zo’s songs; I heard it and told him that I wanted to remix it. He said, ‘Why don’t we make this a collaboration?’” He continues, “I’m really excited for it to come out, but I don’t know when it’s going to be released… I think people will really like it, though.”
Interestingly, the young producer brought up the comparison to Language, the entrancing smash-hit that has ignited the charts and parties around South Africa. I tell him about the track’s success in SA, and query the possibility of a visit from him soon.
“It just depends on whether I get booked. I’d absolutely love to come; I just haven’t gotten the offers in yet,” he adds. “[It’s good to hear that] Language is doing well there. That song has surprised me with the fact it is charting internationally. Most of my music, to this point, has performed well within the DJ circles and the United States – for the most part – but I’ve been pleasantly surprised to hear it’s been doing well abroad as well.”
Chatting about factors that may influence releases, Porter states that integrity and art should always come first in music – no compromise. In the past, he has also been quoted as saying that consistency and points of emphasis are important in one’s music. Trying to understand his psyche even better, I ask him to explain what he thinks makes Porter Robinson distinctive and stand out from the rest?
“I’ve always said this before: the hope is that the music will speak for itself. I try to make sure that my music is effortful and detailed; I always put enough effort into it that I’ll feel satisfied artistically. Also, I’m pretty obsessed with emotion [in songs]; these days, I go into a song with a concept,” he says. “I don’t know… There are artists who have similar philosophies [as I], but I’m just trying to do what I love, I guess (laughs).”
Well, doing what he loves has lead to him achieving so much so soon. Having already hit several pinnacles at the age of twenty, what sort of goals and motivation keep him going?
“Right now, one of my goals is to try to write some more sounds and material. I try to just follow my muse [and] write music that is special, beautiful and especially emotional. I hope to keep raising the bar and to do something unique. But again, it’s much easier said than done, and people will believe it when they see it. It’s so hard to talk about what you’re up to… I kind of want [people] to discover it for themselves.”