Edit: This interview with Porter Robinson was conducted just moments after Porter Robinson’s first live performance (ever!), at Motiv Nightclub in Santa Cruz, CA on October 8, 2010. Since then he’s played in front of hundreds of thousands of people and featuresd in mainstream media including Wall Street Journal, MTV, and more. Enjoy!
Today, 18-year-old electro prodigy Porter Robinson‘s newest single, Hello, is out on Big Fish Records as a collaboration with UK smasher and label boss Lazy Rich. We caught up with Porter after his first ever DJ set at Motiv Club in Santa Cruz, CA to talk about his early success, future collaborations, and of course how his first DJ set was.
EasyLove Records: How did you initially break into electronic music and music production in general? How long did it take you before you were able to put out a track like ‘Say My Name?’
Porter Robinson: I feel like i had a really intense path up to a track like ‘Say My Name.’ It took me about 4 years.
ELR: Almost all the time in the studio?
PR: Oh yeah, it’s all the time in the studio. But ‘Say My Name’ was made about six months deep in producing electro because before that I was producing commercial dance music and trance.
ELR: Like David Guetta type of stuff?
PR: Even more silly than David Guetta, like Cascada. That’s where I was coming from, but that scene died out and I thought, “Holy shit electro is so cool, I need to start producing this,” and I just fell in love with it and then ‘Say My Name’ just really turned out.
ELR: So you’re from North Carolina which isn’t exactly an electronic music haven. Has living there at all shaped how you’ve gone about going into the electronic music world?
PR: Yeah I definitely think so. I think if I was more exposed to the club scene I would have probably conformed to the typical sound a little bit more. I’d be probably more into Dutchy sounding shit or I probably wouldn’t use the trance breakdowns going into an electro thing because that’s not normal. I wouldn’t have the courage to do that, but being an outsider enables you to have such a creative freedom. So as I’m going into this club scene I’ve gotta keep myself in check and know that I need to continue to innovate to really break ground.
ELR: Definitely. So what do you take as inspiration when you to go into the studio each day? What inspires you when you start making music?
PR: The most inspirational acts for me are definitely Wolfgang Gartner, DirtyLoud, Noisia, and lately Skrillex. These are four people who are just pushing the envelope. It’s clear to me that they’re just working dozens upon dozens of hours on their songs. Wolfgang Gartner actually mentioned there’re people who will throw a song together in 6 hours on a flight and be content with it, and then you have people who will spend 300 hours in the studio. For me it’s just all about hard work. The people whose music is just really aggressively powerful and super-detailed – those are the acts that inspire me.
ELR: Now here’s a question for all the bedroom producers out there – when you’re making a track, is there a certain method you have or a certain template that you go through? or is it kind of just haphazardly going at the drums and synths in any order? How do you lay down a track?
PR: I actually lay down a track in the exact order that you hear. I start with the intro, go into the first little beat part, breakdown, main hook, breakdown, main hook, outro. And the reason I have this technique is because the buildups and the breakdowns in music are in my view the most important things. The anticipation of a drop is often way more exciting than the drop itself. So I’m fully focused on the structure of the song, that’s what comes first. That’s the method I do, I go in order and there’s the rationale for it.
PR: I was such a huge fan of Eduardo Nascimento – DirtyLoud – and so I wrote on his soundcloud to tell him that I’m a huge fan and I’d love to chat with him. And this was three months ago before I had any releases. We got to chatting and he asked me if I make any music. I haphazardly sent him ‘Say My Name’ and he said “Lazy Rich needs to hear this. He will love this.” I was huge fans of both of them, both are doing the exact type of shit that makes me go crazy. So me and Lazy Rich just started talking and talking and eventually we decided we wanted to do a song together. We both really admire each other’s work, I mean it was kind of inevitable.
ELR: Are there any other collabs in the works that you can tell us about?
PR: Yeah, so DirtyLoud and I want to do something together so badly but so far the timeslots just sort of haven’t matched up. It hasn’t happened quite yet but I really am dying to collaborate with DirtyLoud. We have a very similar vision and while nothing’s done yet, I’m fairly confident that people will see some work between the two of us.
ELR: Do you have any unreleased stuff or stuff that’s already in the pipeline on the way out?
PR: Oh yeah, I’ve got a remix coming out for Spencer & Hill (out on Bazooka) and I think that’s gonna be super cool, push the envelope. I’m also working on a new single and have a new track called ‘The Wildcat’ coming out on the same label as ‘Say My Name’ (Glamara) with a remix from Lazy Rich. Some people have heard it, I think that one’s super intense though a bit more melodic. But I mean it really does the trick.
ELR: What about the remix for Spencer & Hill?
PR: They basically said “Just go crazy, just do whatever you want.” I want that creative tolerance that they’ve given me.
ELR: Okay, so what direction do you plan on taking your production in 2011? More aggressive electro? I saw that you tweeted you’re interested in tech house – are their any plans to pursue that?
PR: I’m still sorta making up my mind about tech house. What I really wanna do, it’s sort of a dream of mine, is to make a tech house song that really blows me away because not a lot of what’s out there is really impressive. I wanna make a song that has a tech house hook but its got a million cuts, super detailed. But I mean electro house is the way, that’s what I’m feeling right now and I will continue to feel. I mean I love it.
ELR: Aside from that is there anything else the future holds in store for you? What are your plans for the next few months?
PR: I’m gonna tour like a mo-fo, I’m gonna head out to Europe in November, I’m going to Germany playing with some long time friends up there. I also really want my next single just to be… I’m gonna work so hard on it, it’s gonna blow people away. And it’s really, it’s not really glamorous, it’s just hard work.
ELR: And one last question, how was your first gig?
PR: Uhhh it was shitty…. Nah, it was fuckin’ unreal, it was amazing! I’ve never felt anything like that in my entire life. Unbelievable, so fun.
You didn’t think we’d leave you without showing you Porter’s unbelievable, out-of-control, no-proper-words-to-describe BOMB of a track, ‘Hello,’ out today on Big Fish Recordings. Help Porter make more tracks like this by buying the track here!
Porter Robinson & Lazy Rich – Hello feat. Sue Cho
And here’s the remix of Spencer & Hill’s ‘Less Go’ which can be purchased here.
Spencer & Hill – Less Go (Porter Robinson Remix)
To my Southern California EasyLovers, be sure to check out Porter Robinson along with Donald Glaude, Skrillex, and others at the Fuzzy Festival at the San Bernadino County Fairgrounds on Nov. 20th. Tickets can be purchased here.
Edit: What would a night be without a collection of photos to remember it by?