Like, I spent years and years of my life playing an MMORPG. He says he’s written short stories before and didn’t hesitate at the chance to work on this project. I’d say the album isn’t a story itself but is instead about stories.
porter robinson shelter piano – Porter Robinson
Robinson: Absolutely – I really hate the idea of any potential source of stimulus being unused. That’s why I obsess so much over lighting, video, cover art, and music videos. I really want the experience to be firing on all cylinders. I really want to drown people in the look and feel of any given project.
I think so many people turned around on Virtual Self. When it first came out people expected that warm, fuzzy, nostalgic, emotional music I was doing with Worlds and were anticipating a sequel to that. When I came out with Virtual Self, it was really cold, serious, not as warm as my past projects. I really felt like I was doing that for such a niche audience, for like 100 people, myself being one of those people.
I feel that there’s so many musicians, my peers who are just struggling, generally. And I wish they weren’t. I wish everyone who makes music that I really like can have their ideal career. Obviously that’s not always possible, but that’s a big part of why I wanted to do this. I’m trying to create a dreamland for these artists and give a lot of them a little extra boost with my audience.
Robinson: In terms of more specifics about selections, I wanted a good balance. I wanted to play mostly music that people don’t recognize, but that feels distinctly Virtual Self, with the occasional well-known classic sprinkled in. I certainly wanted people to hear the show and wonder how much of it was authentically from that time period, and how much of it was made by Virtual Self. Finally, I didn’t want there to be any sense of irony or satire. I didn’t want to play cheeky, old, dance hits or anything that could be taken as ironic.
Second Sky Music Festival with Porter Robinson, Madeon, Cashmere Cat, Kero Kero Bonito, G Jones, Nina Las Vegas, others: Noon-10 p.m. Saturday, June 15, and Sunday, June 16. $75-$195. Middle Harbor Shoreline Park, 2777 Middle Harbor Road, Oakland. Venue is only accessible via a free shuttle from the West Oakland BART Station; or get a ride to a designated drop-off location near the venue. No on-site parking is available.
It’s difficult to fully reflect on the influence of ‘Worlds’, Robinson’s 2014 debut album, because we’re still reeling from its impact. A response to the tired, formulaic commercial EDM dominating the global scene, ‘Worlds’ was Robinson’s attempt to change the course of an entire genre and scene. He succeeded.
There’s a ton of people who were over the moon with the lineup. I’ve gotten comments: I can’t believe that all these artists are in the same place.” And there’s an equal number of people who haven’t heard of anybody on the lineup except maybe me, Cashmere Cat and Madeon. For some people it’s this ideal festival lineup of people you hear online but you wouldn’t get the chance to see all in one place.
From here on, it was full steam ahead. Picking up support slots on tours with Skrillex and then on Tiësto’s infamous College Invasion tour, people began to take note of Porter’s unique style of mixing and the insane energy he showed behind the decks. In addition to these colossal artist tours, Porter also made his way onto the stages of Electric Daisy Carnival, Ultra Music Festival and Electric Zoo; as well as landing himself in the DJ Mag Top 100.
DJ Times: What is the true inspiration behind this project? It seems to be reminiscent of late ’90s and early 2000s electronic-dance music. Robinson: Utopia” was a word that came up a lot when I was coming up with song titles and the sort of decorative, atmospheric text that you see a lot in Virtual Self visual art.
A heralded electronic music producer, Porter Robinson is widely considered one of the best DJs in the world. Robinson specializes in the genres of electro house, dubstep and synthpop. He is known for his hard-hitting four-four beats, though he also produces more atmospheric and emotive tracks.
I’ve also been listening to the music I kind of grew up with: the soundtracks from Dance Dance Revolution, StepMania and The Legend of Zelda. Also a lot of the Japanese pop star Kyary Pamyu Pamyu: It’s the best art-directed pop project and the best pop songwriting of all time.
His future was clear to him, and he decided to make one of the riskiest, most difficult moves that any artist and producer could ever have possibly made. At the time, he received a lot of negativity from fans and artists, saying that “he shouldn’t change his sound” and that he wouldn’t be able to pull it off- that this move would be “suicide” for his career. But Porter didn’t listen; he did this change entirely for himself, and guess what? It has only worked to his benefit.
In their open letter, Fair and Scroggins requested that Robinson and Goldenvoice publicly apologize and donate to the Multivrs is Illuminated to support their next festival, in addition to the name change. When they and their supporters commented on Robinson’s Multiverse Festival Instagram page to voice concerns about the name, hundreds of Robinson’s fans fired back. Some of them used racist and sexist language, and accused Fair and Scroggins of “making it about race.” “This is why no one takes LGBTQ shit seriously,” one user wrote.
In 2012, Robinson would go on to release his timeless, euphoric anthem, Language.” He also co-wrote Zedd’s chart-topping hit Clarity” and joined forces with fellow production prodigy Mat Zo for their collaborative single, Easy.” Robinson had hit the electronic-music world’s big-time stage.
A. It kind of feels like people were waiting for something like this to happen — some kind of disruption to the E.D.M. scene. There are guys out there that are amazing craftsmen, but don’t have artistic vision. And right now the scene is a lot of hashtags and promotions and people’s Twitter accounts being run by their managers. There’s not a lot of risk taking or authenticity. Not that I’m the greatest or most authentic — I just think people are ready for a shake-up.
The thing with Skrillex is that he’s an example of someone who’s massively successful without ever selling out. All he did was make the music that he loved and millions of people got on board, as opposed to other electronic musicians who just pander to the mainstream pop audience. He never pandered. He only did whatever it is that he wanted, and I have enormous respect for him for that.
It paid off when he randomly released Sea of Voices,” a track that’s allegedly the most left field” song on Worlds. It was a weird situation, given that he had such an anthem in tracks like Language” and built his early career on these intricate shifts and sounds in his complextro” phase. Sea of Voices” clocks in at just under five minutes, and the first three are a long, drum-less buildup that leads into a cinematic release full of bright synths, soaring melodies, and so much oomph that it was almost hard to believe that this was the same Porter Robinson that had seen his stock rise with the debut release on Skrillex’s OWSLA. Couple that with the fact that this beaut dropped on a Sunday afternoon, and ending up trending worldwide on Twitter (and during the night of the Oscars, no less). That’s dedication.
The plot centers on a 17-year-old girl named Rin, who finds herself in a virtual reality world in which she has full control. Using her tablet-like device, Rin has the ability to draw entire environments around her. As time progresses, however, the viewer comes to learn the truth behind her happy existence.
The animation process took place over five straight days at Porter’s house. (Porter’s 12-year-old brother also chipped in a bit, creating three visual looks for the show.) Once animation completed, Porter reached out to friend and video-artist Ghostdad to edited and cut the visuals together in a way that would flow with the live show.
At times, the constant nostalgia evoked throughout the album can get a bit emotionally draining, as subsequent tracks continue to reinforce Robinson’s new collection of synths and almost obsessive predilection for robotic-sounding vocals of a Japanese flavor. However, Robinson eventually carves out his own style of synthpop through his numerous collaborations, which create a bit of vocal variety and allow him to really explore his midtempo tracks. Therefore, listeners who enjoy these opening tracks will likely dig the fact that Robinson is diving in and milking his apparent M83 and CHVRCHES influences. Yet, others may find the first half of the album to be a bit repetitive.
Robinson: In pursuit of that goal of conflating a bunch of tropes together, I spent a lot of time editing. I’d take an actual old-school trance breakdown and, at the expected moment of climax, switch it into a slowed-down Amen Break.” It’s partially about subverting expectations, but it’s also about trying to combine unalike tropes in a Virtual Self kind of way.
North Carolina-born DJ and producer Porter Robinson began making music age 12, teaching himself how to produce electronic music on the computer. By age 18 he had reached the top slot on Beatport’s Electro House Chart with his 2010 debut single “Say My Name”. After signing to Skrillex’s OWSLA imprint he followed up in 2011 with his debut EP Spitfire, which crashed Beatport’s server upon its release and quickly shot to No. 1 on the iTunes Dance Chart. He expanded his repertoire to vocal dance pop in 2013, making his debut as a vocalist on the single “Sad Machine” from his 2014 debut full-length Worlds. A tireless touring DJ who has graced stages at the world’s premier electronic festivals, Robinson has fans eagerly awaiting his next tour dates.
Electronic music is in a weird place right now, especially in America. It’s never been bigger, and as such, it’s never been more divisive. EDM is sweeping the mainstream: Martin Garrix’s undeniable Animals” appeared in a recent Madden video game, and Skrillex scored the indie smash Spring Breakers and made an appearance in Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph. This music is enormous, and yet when most people hear the term EDM,” they turn up their noses.
Throughout his career, Robinson has constantly evolved and elevated his artistic vision in search of his next creative challenge and his new sound. Here, DJ Mag gathers the key moments and releases that have defined Porter Robinson.
In 2017, he created his alter-ego Virtual Self and released an EP which included the track “Ghost Voices,” that would later pick up a Grammy nomination at the 61st annual Grammy Awards. Currently sitting at more than 4.3 million views, the full video is available to stream via Porter Robinson’s official YouTube channel.
As the weekend draws to a close there hangs a palpable magic in the air. Madeon joined Robinson on stage to sing one last time their collaborative single, “Shelter,” but it almost doesn’t even matter if the mic is on, since the crowd already is singing along to every word. The feeling that something much bigger has been at work the whole weekend finally reaches a tipping point. As all of the artists gathered backstage for an impromptu after party, each taking turns on the decks to play songs they might otherwise not get the chance to play out, there was an air of giddy euphoria.
In a way, for people to fully understand my music, they need to know the narrative of the last six years of my life,” says Porter Robinson, of the leap he’s made from electro-house producer to genre-busting musician.
Growing up in the sleepy town of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Porter began producing music at the tender age of 13, having caught the bug from Dance Dance Revolution. Shelter: the Animation” is U.S. musician Porter Robinson’s debut in the world of anime.
The industry-wide influence of ‘Worlds’ is still unfolding today. The album is widely credited for heralding the next trends that would dominate the American electronic scene at the midpoint of this decade: the rise of live indie electronic bands, like ODESZA, and the flood of future bass artists like Louis The Child, k?D and Whethan. As a whole, ‘Worlds’ proved that electronic music is not limited to the dancefloor, but rather is a sound with limitless possibilities for those unafraid to reach them.
A: I got pretty lucky. I put together a list of people I would like to see, who I’m really listening to that I think my fans might enjoy and who are able to put together a festival-size live performance — and I sent that to my managers. We got almost all the people that I tried to get.
Scroggins and Fair point out that Robinson’s Multiverse Festival is the latest development in a shifting live music landscape in the Bay Area—one where local artists are losing out on opportunities to corporate-backed acts. The City of Oakland shuttered several underground venues after the 2016 Ghost Ship fire. And as independent venues such as the Hemlock Tavern and Elbo Room San Francisco closed in 2018, Goldenvoice took control of talent buying at the previously locally booked Slim’s and Great American Music Hall, a move Bay Area musicians and promoters say means fewer local opportunities.
I met Skrillex through a guy who used to be my manager. He was booking a club out of Santa Cruz, and my manager put on my music in the car, and Skrillex really liked it. I think he’s one of the best sound designers in the world. He’s just a master of synthesis. He’s an incredible hit writer, and his live performances are amazing and energetic. And I think he’s just one of the nicest people in the entire music industry that I know.
In 2016, He released the single Shelter” with electronic artist Madeon Both being very close friends for a long time, they went on a North American tour, which would expand to a European tour with stops in Japan and Australia. The Shelter Tour ended with the last stop being Coachella 2017.
Porter began 2013 with the release of his much-acclaimed Mat Zo co-production Easy”, which quickly reached #1 on both Beatport and HypeMachine, and gained traction across radio and charts globally. From here his sights are firmly set on his first full-length artist album, drawing on elements and influences across a wide range of genres. The debut outing will see Porter break all preconceptions and join the ranks of luminaries he’s admired his entire career.
To capture the immersive spirit of ‘Worlds’ in a concert setting, Robinson launched a live tour in 2014, which saw him abandon the DJ decks in exchange for live instrumentation via real-life synthesizers, triggered samples and his own vocals. Robinson, who took home the Best Live Act title at DJ Mag’s inaugural Best of North America Awards in 2017, teamed up with creative studio Invisible Light Network to produce a multidimensional visual universe that combined anime, pixel art and Tumblr-inspired computer programming. Rather than making flashy animations or abstract art, Robinson and co. created alternate realities that featured animated characters and interconnected storylines that explored love, longing and adventure and reinforced the themes of fantasy, escapism and nostalgia heard on ‘Worlds’. While it was Robinson’s debut live trek, the Worlds Live Tour elevated the artist from DJ button-pusher to creative visionary and helped raise the bar for live electronic music.
Porter Robinson: The main reason I wanted to do an artist-curated festival is I have this fantasy of there being a place where all of my favorite music can coexist. A lot of the music I listen to, that I think is really good, amusing, important and needs to be heard is A) not the music people associate me with and B) isn’t always at the festivals that will have me. I really wanted to see if I could showcase and create a live space for music that I’m actually listening to.