Porter Robinson may be the living embodiment of the current EDM explosion, and he knows it. “I feel like my trajectory going up has corresponded pretty neatly with the course of dance music in America overall,” the 19-year-old tells Rolling Stone.
Signed to Skrillex’s OWSLA label, Robinson first fell for electronic music as a 12-year-old growing up in North Carolina, obsessing over the videogame Dance Dance Revolution. “I’ve only ever listened to electronic music; that’s all I’ve ever really been passionate about,” he says. Robinson opened for Tiësto’s College Invasion tour last fall, played Electric Daisy Carnival and Coachella this year and now enjoys a residency in Las Vegas. But while he’s making the most of the scene’s current boom, he’s also looking ahead to its next phase.
“It’s been a big question for me: ‘How do I advance?'” Robinson says. “I’ve been gauging crowds, and I think right now they’re really excited by shocking use of minimalism. I think the other thing that’s been largely unexplored, especially in American dance music, has been hyper-emotional, goosebumps-inducing, chills-inducing music.”
According to Robinson, nothing fits this bill better than trance, the subgenre led by artists like Paul Oakenfold and Tiësto over a decade ago. “I found that in America, if you’re into trance artists like Mat Zo and Arty, you’re kind of considered a tastemaker, cool and underground,” he says. “My most recent song [“Language”] was like a full-on barrage of all emotion, all sentimentality, nostalgia sounds, and it elicited a massive response.”
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Robinson is actively touring at the moment, which he admits makes releasing singles easier than albums, but he aims to release an LP one day. Moreso, he is set on bringing his trance enthusiasm to his fans. “It’s always better to lead than follow as an artist,” he says. “I would love to be the person to bring the next sound.”