Porter Robinson on 'Worlds Remixed,' EDM 'Stigma' & Why a Taylor Swift Collab Is 'Not On My List'
"I've got a hundred thousand things on my mind that are taking precedence over trying to make pop collaborations."
Worlds Remixed, featuring all 12 tracks remixed by artists Robinson admires, will be out Oct. 2. It is the culmination of a breakthrough year that saw Robinson deliver star turns at Coachella and Ultra with his ambitious live interpretation of the album. Since those early 2015 festival appearances, he has been a continual standout on the fest circuit this summer, including a set at HARD Summer, which unfortunately drew headlines for the deaths of two attendees.
Billboard spoke with Robinson about the remix album, possible pop collaborations and the stigma attached to EDM events.
You did a lot of festivals this year and you've had some amazing crowd responses. What have been some of your favorite reactions from the audiences?
It's astounding. People send me those videos of them, and it goes above and beyond what my expectations were. I want the feeling to be, generally, this emotional thing that is touching. But I know people who don't cry when actual tragedies happen in their lives and it just blows me away to see people crying. That's as much as I can say about it. Just as much as you think it would blow my mind, it does, it's incredible. Then, as far as speaking on people's drug usage and the fact that people come to party, I originally questioned whether my live show would be a good fit for some of these rave-y, more dance festival type shows. And, in the end, I think it's connected with people across the board. It's really worked very well at a lot of your indie festivals. Coachella was amazing, and the crowd response was incredible. And HARD was just as great. So almost on my end, if I wasn't looking at what people were wearing, I might not even know demographically what the crowd's like based on the response alone.
As someone who plays these festivals, do you have any thoughts on what can be done to make them safer or make the mainstream feel better about them?
This may seem a little bit obvious, but the one thing that really matters is the truth. I've seen some suggestions that dance festivals don't have more of these types of incidents than other festivals and there are country festivals where there are tons of people who end up dying in drunk-driving accidents. I think the stigma should just be cast away from all the stuff and we should just look at the reality. It'd be really useful to have some actual metrics and data and things we can look at so we can make an informed, rational choice as a society about how this needs to be handled. But as far as policy to prevent drug deaths, that's above my pay grade. It's so hard to say what is the safer approach and what will prevent tragedies. These are supposed to be celebrations. The last thing you want is people who are dying -- that's unthinkable. There is definitely a stigma about electronic music and dance music, for sure, and I'm not sure that is really reflective of how dangerous these things are. And I would love for there to be some information we can look at. I just want the truth about it, because if the reality is that electronic music festivals are significantly more dangerous than other festivals, then something should be done about it, and that warrants conversation. But it definitely bothers me these kinds of decisions are being made on reputation alone.
The remix album has been delayed a couple of times. Why the delays?
One of the remixers dropped out, but we have a replacement and it's actually someone who I'm really excited about. I think it's great to put the album in front of people again and remind people about some of these songs and to get to showcase a bunch of artists who I'm enthusiastic about. That's the best, and also I just like associating myself with things I think are good and to be able to take a list of my favorite musicians and say, "Hey, do something that is slightly collaborative," that is so great.
Are there any moments on there that stand out for you or give you a new appreciation for the track?
There are a lot of special moments on this remix album. I think my favorite remains the Mat Zo one. It's someone I've collaborated with in the past. To get him on remix duty -- to me, that's heavy-duty.
You and I once discussed Skrillex's collaboration with Justin Bieber and how you thought that was brave. Would you do any collaborations in the pop world?
As far as your triple-A pop stars go, I like Taylor Swift and I like Rihanna, and I can say in an interview, "Yeah, sure, I would do that anonymously" -- but that's not going to happen. I've got a hundred thousand things on my mind that are taking precedence over trying to make pop collaborations. It might be interesting to people to say that I would do something with Taylor Swift, but the reality is, it's so not on my list of things to do.
But I did think your perspective on Skrillex and the Bieber collaboration was interesting.
I completely stand by that. I think Skrillex working with Justin Bieber -- some immature people will have a huge problem with that; I'm just saying I don't care. I think he did great on the song. I think the song is brilliant, and to be able to put negative comments out of your head in that way is the mark of a real artist and somebody who has a lot of integrity, especially when people are saying the opposite. I just think my approach is so different.
Worlds Remixed track list:
"Divinity" (feat. Amy Millan) (Odesza Remix)
"Sad Machine" (Deon Custom Remix)
"Years of War" (Feat. Breanne Duren & Sean Caskey) (Rob Mayth Remix)
"Flicker" (Mat Zo Remix)
"Fresh Static Snow" (Last Island Remix)
"Polygon Dust" (Feat. Lemaitre) (Sleepy Tom Remix)
"Hear The Bells (Feat. Imaginary Cities) (Electric Mantis Remix)
"Natural Light" (San Holo Remix)
"Lionhearted" (Feat, Urban Cone) (Point Point Remix)
"Sea Of Voices" (Galimatias Remix)
"Fellow Feeling" (Slumberjack Remix)
"Goodbye to a World" (Chrome Sparks Remix)