How do you do music? Well, it's easy
You just face your fears and you become your heroes
I don't understand why you're freaking out
Porter Weston Robinson (born July 15, 1992) is an American electronic music producer, DJ, and singer. His material is noted for its video game and anime influences.
He first released the Spitfire EP in 2011, to great reception. His debut album, Worlds, released in 2014, was accompanied by the Worlds Tour, which featured many songs from the album as well as other songs. The most notable part of the Worlds tour is the exclusive remixes, which, aside from fan remakes, could only be heard at the concerts.
Robinson announced a collaboration and accompanying tour with Madeon with the release of "Shelter" on August 11, 2016. It was accompanied by a 6-minute anime/music video of the same name in October 19, 2016 in collaboration with A-1 Pictures.
In 2017, he announced a new project and alias called Virtual Self, and released his first EP under the alias that same year.
In early 2020, he released the song "Get Your Wish", along with the announcement of his second album, Nurture, to be released later in the year. It was released in April of 2021.
In 2023, Robinson officially collaborated with YAMAHA's Vocaloid software as a voice provider to a vocal synth. The voicebank, named Po-Uta in his honor, is based on his pitched-up vocals heard throughout Nurture.
- Spitfire (EP, 2011)
- Worlds (Album, 2014)
- Virtual Self (as Virtual Self, EP, 2017)
- Nurture (Album, 2021)
- Alternate Universe: The Worlds of the eponymous album are supposed to be many dream worlds different from our own. This is further expanded upon in the lyrics of the live version of Unison:Every place you've ever imagined, it's real
There is a fictional city in your mind, and you know every corner of it
Your mind is a world
Each of us is a place
- Animated Music Video:
- The music video for his collaboration with Madeon, "Shelter", was animated by A-1 Pictures, and is so big that it has its own page.
- "Musician" also has a very anime-influenced music video, directed by Japanese animators Waboku and Mah, following the adventures of a young man in a city mixed with futuristic technology and nature.
- The City vs. the Country: In the music video for "Easy", a Japanese pop idol escapes the business of the city via a motorcycle, drops an EMP bomb in the street and retreats to relax in a park with a regular bicycle.
- Darker and Edgier:
- The live version of "Fresh Static Snow" has creepy visuals (see Eyeless Face below) and is loud and angry. This version of the song turns one of the most sad and somber songs on the album into an evil and angry-sounding remix.
- Although it's not Porter's work, Madeon's Evil Edit of "Shelter" is this down to the name.
- Doing It for the Art: Invoked as the topic of "Musician", celebrating inspiration and artistry no matter what the cost. The song directly addresses the moments of personal vulnerability and weakness from how exhausting the creative process can be, and yet the sheer joy of creating is ultimately a worthy reward.But sincerely
Can't you feel what I'm feeling?
I can see my life so clearly
And I know it doesn't last
But I don't mind at all anymore
- Early-Installment Weirdness: Porter's earlier releases like "Spitfire" and "Language" were firmly in the festival EDM mold. From Worlds onwards, his sound shifted into something more cinematic, incorporating elements of Synth-Pop, future bass, Vocaloid, and influences from Japanese anime and video games.
- Eat the Rich: "Years of War", which is about a war of vengeance against a wealthy kingdom that goes on for 200 years and ends the world.Oooohhh, 200 years of war
Fight till we are no more
Take back what the kingdom stole
- Epic Instrumental Opener:
- The majority of "Sea of Voices" is an ambient passage, spending three of its five minutes building up various synthetic tones and ethereal vocals to paint a gentle, yet expansive sound collage. Then following a short lyrical passage, it explodes with percussion while retaining its ambient flair.
- "Wind Tempos" features a similar composition to "Sea of Voices", spending its first half on a looping piano riff accompanied with various ambient sounds of nature mixed with glitchy manipulation. When it hits its three-minutes, however, it instead goes the opposite direction with slower, gentler piano chords with minimalist vocals.
- Epic Rocking: "Divinity" and the Chrome Sparks remix of "Goodbye To A World" are both over six minutes, though only barely.
- Expository Hairstyle Change: During the Spitfire and Worlds eras of Porter’s career he typically had his natural dark brown hair, but he started wearing it in a bleached blond throughout the Nurture era, which also corresponded to the man himself making more songs with himself on the mic, showing up more frequently in his own music videos and the album’s overall introspective, optimistic tone.
- Eyeless Face: The visual for the live version of "Fresh Static Snow" features an animal skull with long horns and the eyeless face of a man with antlers.
- Fan Remake: A weird example, since it's not a video game, but since Porter has a laissez-faire policy regarding remixes and such, a lot of remixes of Worlds have been appearing on the Internet. One such example is Worlds: The Movie, that is essentially a fan recreation of the Worlds tour as it actually was, complete with remade versions of the live songs.
- The Shelter Tour now also has Shelter: the Movie.
- There have been leaks of Porter's work computer, complete with studio versions of the actual Shelter audio that Porter and Madeon played, with the actual vocals and not "the Movie"'s recreations. It should be noted that Porter never intended the Shelter tour tracks to leak, so they won't be posted here, but they're not that hard to find.
- While there's an official remix album, and apparently a second one in the works, there's also a fanmade remixes compilation called "Our Worlds."
- The Shelter Tour now also has Shelter: the Movie.
- Genre Mashup: While most of his material can be classified as Electro House (specifically the "complextro" sub-genre), he's also incorporated elements of Japanese Pop Music, trance, dubstep, Synth-Pop and chiptune in there as well.
- Gratuitous Japanese: The lyrical content of "Flicker" is entirely based on "私はちょうど何が重要か見つけようとしている。「自分たちの生活のトラックを失う方法です。」"Translation
- Innocently Insensitive: "Musician" is a song celebrating the act of being an artist, but an outside voice appears twice gently retorting the lifestyle, worded as coming from a place of good intentions caring for Porter's well-being, but implicitly dismissing his life choices and swaying him into "growing up".Then they say, "Fine
Well, do what you need to
But I don't wanna see you wasting your life
Now isn't it time you get a job?"
- Journey to the Center of the Mind: Porter is very fond of it, and Worlds is entirely built on this idea.
- Aside from the aforementioned example, "Goodbye to a World" ends with the literal end of the world. It is supposed that our protagonists are the android girl and her lover from Sad Machine. She says they don't have to worry because they can live together again in a place she creates in her mind.Thank you, I'll say goodbye soon
Though its the end of the world,
Don't blame yourself now
And if its true,
I will surround you and give life to a world
That's our own
- The entire story of the Shelter is pretty much a call-back to the story evoked in Goodbye to a World, although it replaces lovers by father and daughter, and the robot girl's mind by the VR sim from Rin's ship.
- Aside from the aforementioned example, "Goodbye to a World" ends with the literal end of the world. It is supposed that our protagonists are the android girl and her lover from Sad Machine. She says they don't have to worry because they can live together again in a place she creates in her mind.
- Lighter and Softer: Nurture is this to Worlds. While retaining Porter's sense of epic introspection, Nurture forgoes the weighty, existential themes of Worlds in favor of something more gentle, idealistic and life-affirming, taking instrumental influences from indie pop, ambient, and acoustic folk music.
- Limited Lyrics Song: "Goodbye To A World" is 5 and a half minutes but only includes the lyrics stated under Journey to the Center of the Mind, repeated several times, and Fresh Static Snow (despite heavily bordering on Epic Rocking) consists entirely of two short verses, the former of which repeats multiple times:You'd fit perfectly to me, deep in the loneliness
Melt this curse away
Though I'll never know your name, I'll cry for you the same
The frozen white noise static snow
That is your memory
Although I know we'll never meet
You're ever part of me...
- Mayfly–December Romance: "Sad Machine" features an android girl being turned on again by a human after what is supposed to be an apocalypse. They eventually fall in love, however she knows that him being human means he has a limited lifespan, while she'll live on forever. The lyrics imply that once he dies, she'll still go on as ever, as if it had never happened.She'll go alone, and never speak of this again
- Mundane Made Awesome: One possible reading of "Lionhearted" suggests that its lyrics are about playing Space Invaders.
- New Sound Album:
- Porter's music career could be very definitively split between the traditional, blaring and aggressive Electro House of Spitfire and the vastly more introspective, indietronica-inspired sound palette of Worlds onward. He reportedly became disillusioned with the traditionally over-the-top EDM he began with, and he made his intentions clear by making his first singles the Ambient-heavy "Sea of Voices" and the Vocaloid pop track "Sad Machine".
- Virtual Self is meant to be a side project separate from Porter's usual music, but the self-titled EP also marks a departure in its own sense by being musically rooted in speedcore.
- Nurture features a light twist on the sound established by Worlds, incorporating more elements of folk music with piano and acoustic guitar, with peaceful sounds of nature serving as the base of his usual glitchy, synthetic soundscapes. It's also heavy on vocals, with him as the sole performer for the main album.
- Rearrange the Song: Porter is fond of sampling vocals from unused demos of his with other singers — "Shelter" recycles a vocal sample Amy Millan during their recording of Worlds, and "Musician" repurposes a demo collaboration with Kero Kero Bonito.
- "Sad Machine" opens up with AVANNA speaking "Is anyone theeeeere? Oo-oh. Hi!", which is pitched and tweaked to sound exactly like the turrets from Portal.
- The entirety of the Virtual Self EP, its thematics and aesthetics are practically screaming Lain. Porter hasn't outright acknowledged it, but it's made obvious by the fact that his BBC mini-mix is introduced by MacTalk Whisper, the very same voice synthesis preset that read the episode titles. To top it off, the music video for "Ghost Voices" had the credit "recorded in present day / present time"
- Solar Punk: The aesthetic featured throughout the music video for "Musician", which takes place in a futuristic city filled with as much lush greenery as skyscrapers and robots. A good chunk of nurture could also be considered solarpunk music due to its tasteful, idealistic mix of futuristic noise pop and indie rock to gentle acoustic instruments.
- Stage Names: While he usually goes by his birth name unlike most other Electronic Music artists, he does have the Virtual Self alias to release more experimental material under.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: "Fresh Static Snow" is about two people who are perfect for each other, but will never meet.You fit perfectly to me deep in my loneliness, melt this curse away
Though I'll never know your name I'll cry for you the same
- Step Up to the Microphone: Porter frequently brings in featured guest vocalists, but he's also contributed his own from time to time, including doing a duet with AVANNA for "Sad Machine". Nurture features him as almost the sole vocalist — occasionally using vocal manipulation to achieve an accompanying "female" voice — to highlight the deeply personal atmosphere of the album, with the only collaboration/vocal feature being Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs in "Unfold" (the song "Fullmoon Lullaby", a collaboration with Wednesday Campanella, was relegated to being a Japan-exclusive bonus track because of this).
- Surprisingly Gentle Song:
- "Sea of Voices" is an ambient soundscape, easily the most gentle and tranquil track Porter had released by a considerable margin in its time. Porter consciously wanted to release the song as the first single off of Worlds specifically because it reminded him the least of dance music and wanted to open conversation about his new change of direction for the album.
- Broadly-speaking, Nurture is much softer in tone than Worlds, but even then it still has its much quieter, less dramatic moments. "Wind Tempos" is a minimalist piano-based passage that becomes a quiet ballad in the second half, and "Blossom" is a pure acoustic number featuring Porter's singing, an acoustic guitar, and nothing more.
- Synthetic Voice Actor:
- "Fresh Static Snow," "Sad Machine" and "Goodbye to a World" have vocals performed by AVANNA. As other tracks of his feature real human vocals (including his own within "Sad Machine"), this was done as a stylistic choice, with additionally-added Auto-Tune and slight distortion effects to make it sound as robotic as possible.
- As of 2023, he has a Vocaloid of his very own, which is tuned in a similarly robotic fashion.
- Vocal Tag Team:
- "Sad Machine" features one between Robinson himself and AVANNA.
- "Something Comforting" also features one between Porter Robinson and… himself, under enough vocal manipulation to qualify as a different voice.
- The outro then turns the Tag Team effect up to eleven, switching voices in between words.