One thing was clear from Porter Robinson’s announcement yesterday (Nov. 14) about his new landmark deal with Astralwerks: His debut LP (expected early 2014) will not be “the next big EDM” album. While Robinson’s early gigs (from when he was 16) came about based on his video game music-inspired bedroom productions, he has been known primarily as a DJ rather than a producer. Yet ironically, the DJ career that brought Robinson to wide acclaim, will now take a backseat as he focuses on his studio work and a live show.
“Obviously I can’t continue doing the normal DJ thing, at least as my main thing,” Robinson explains. “That doesn’t ever preclude me DJing again. Just knowing myself, I could see myself doing this live show and just being like, ‘Man, how fun was it back when I used to like, bang it out or whatever.’ It feels weird for me to say that now because I don’t feel that at all. I could see myself doing after-parties or maybe a side tour. A lot of bands have their DJ set. That’s something that I’m certainly going to be open to.”
Nearly completed, Robinson promises a richly musical sound on his album, citing influences like M83, Sleigh Bells and his top two all-time favorites, Daft Punk and Kanye West.
“I wanted to do something that felt beautiful and emotional and that felt nostalgic,” describes Robinson. “I think it sort of employs the pretty vibe of the last couple songs I put out, like ‘Language’ and ‘Easy,’ but I wanted a vintage sound. Something that was a little more lo-fi-inspired. It has a bunch of weird tempos that dance people aren’t really doing. There’s no DJ-friendly intro and outro. It’s meant to be listening music. It’s not a party record at all.”
A self-described homebody, Robinson still lives in his parents’ house in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where his studio is based. While he says he could afford his own house, living at home allows him to stay close to his younger brothers and his dogs, while also giving him the freedom to work on music, undisturbed by the outside world.
“My favorite thing in the world is to be at home drinking a shitload of coffee and getting really caffeinated and writing music forever,” Robinson claims. “The DJ role, it’s never been a big thing for me. In the last couple years, there was definitely a moment where I got excited about DJing, but I feel like as this world of high energy Main Stage dance music has gotten bigger, it’s sacrificed musicality to be very functional on the dancefloor.”
When asked about the potential risks of an EDM DJ making a non-EDM album, Robinson is unfazed.
“I would be worse off and less happy if I was making something I didn’t enjoy,” he says resolutely. “What are you doing if you’re not making art that you think is rad? You’re a product. It’s awful. It’s a terrible thing to be. I decided to do something honest and something that I actually love.”