Jun 05, 2011
Porter Robinson

19 year-old North Carolina native Porter Robinson seems to be name on everyone’s lips these days. After exploding onto the scene late last year, he has enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame. Read about his journey and how he developed his distinct sound in our exclusive interview.

Innerpartysystem - American Trash (Porter Robinson Remix) [Red Bull]
LessThan3: Who are your main influences in production? It’s simply mind-blowing you made a track like Say My Name out of the blue, and we’d like to know more.
Porter: The guys who inspire me are the ones who put incredible detail and energy in their music. Wolfgang Gartner, Noisia, Pendulum, and Robin Brandes continue to blow me away with every production. I didn’t strictly make Say My Name out of the blue–I had a few Porter Robinson productions before it that went under the radar, and even before then, I had been producing since I was twelve.
LessThan3: Growing up in North Carolina, how did EDM reach you?
Porter: Through the internet. The first time I heard electronic music was in the Japanese rhythm video game Dance Dance Revolution, which I recognize is hilarious. And even then, I had no idea what house music was–I became acquainted with EDM genres through Ishkur’s Guide to Electronic Music.
LessThan3: Without a doubt your sound dabbles in the wobblier territory, and we’ve seen in your mixes that you’re keen to the dubstep side of things. Will we see your productions branch out into dubstep? How about drum’n’bass and breaks?
Porter: Yes, absolutely. I can say for a fact that I have dubstep productions on the way. I’ve been playing them out and reactions have been absolutely phenomenal. I’ve been dabbling in a really wide range of tempos lately. It’s funny, though–when I made Say My Name, I had only heard two dubstep songs ever. I think they were Nero’s Innocence and the Bar 9 remix of I Want You. Both of those songs rock and the genre made a huge impression on me. As a matter of fact, I’m remembering now that Say My Name was originally an attempt at dubstep. Good thing it ended up as electro, though–it worked way better that way.
LessThan3: You’re a representative of the next generation of young EDM stars. What kinds of new techniques and technologies do you think this next generation will bring?
Porter: The new big thing seems to be drop-oriented music with complexity and detail. We’ll see how long that persists–it’s cool, but like any sound, it can be overdone. I think we’re starting to see more and more musicians approach production from a software-only standpoint. Software synths are more inexpensive, more versatile, more convenient, and more ubiquitous (and therefore more easily learned) than hardware. I sure as hell don’t use any hardware and I doubt I ever will.
LessThan3: There are some signature Porter Robinson sounds that we hear in many of your tracks. How do you find the balance between introducing new experimental sounds while maintaining your own clearly identifiable sonic labeling?
Porter: That’s always a challenge. Some of my signature sounds (the progressive house pluck, the wobble bass) were consciously implemented to be signature sounds. I wanted that to be my thing. But more and more, I find that I’ll use whatever sounds are exciting. And if that requires that I deviate from my typical style, so be it!
LessThan3: Was there ever a moment where you felt frustrated and wanted to give up on your career to pursue something else?
Porter: No way. Even at my lowest, most frustrating points as a musician, I’d still rather be doing what I do than preparing for a test in some remote, irrelevant subject.
LessThan3: What keeps you motivated and what kind of support base did you start with?
Porter: I started with a relatively minor support base–my fans from older projects, my family, my friends–and they’ve played integral roles in making all this work. I’m grateful to them.
LessThan3: Countless DJs dropped Say My Name at UMF. How does it make you feel knowing legends like Carl Cox and Fedde le Grand support your music?
Porter: It’s crazy! My original goal with Say My Name was for it to crack the legendary Beatport Electro House Top 100–I didn’t have any clue how huge the impact of that song would be. In the last couple of weeks, Tiesto started dropping the track (I actually handed it to him on a thumb drive at his request; what an honor). It’s crazy and ideal. The support of major DJs is the best support, and I’d like the chance to thank them all personally.
LessThan3: Everyone wants to be a DJ these days. Do you think it’s getting out of hand or do you welcome the competition?
Porter: I welcome the competition for sure. I’m a free-market, laissez-faire guy at heart. In an environment where there are a lot of DJs and producers competing for interest, listeners can be more discerning and everyone has to work harder on their music. It’s good for everyone except lazy people.
LessThan3: What were you thinking five minutes before going on stage at Ultra? What about right before you got off stage?
Porter: “Oh God. The guys before me are nailing it. I wonder if anyone here knows me. I hope my sound doesn’t cut. I hope the stage manager doesn’t cut my sound like he did the guys before me.” It’s a million worries. That was one of the best sets of my life, though–I’ve hardly ever seen a crowd lose their sh*t like that. Like always, once I started playing, all the questions disappeared and it became a fucking blast.
LessThan3: At only 19, your rapid explosion into the EDM scene has been pretty wild. How do your friends react now that you’re a huge DJ success?
Porter: My friends don’t see as much of me as they used to. At my high school, people are pretty impressed and curious on the whole. We recently had a film crew in the school documenting a day of my life, and that definitely turned some heads. People have been good about it.
LessThan3: If the world were ending in LessThan3 minutes, and you had an iPod with every song ever made on it, what would you listen to?
Porter: Probably one of the Wolfgang masterpieces. Illmerica, Firepower, Undertaker, or 5th Symphony.
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