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Porter Robinson, an 18-year-old electro/house prodigy returns to Boulder for a second time after previously lighting up the stage at Snowball Music Festival.
Robinson is performing at the Fox Theater on April 21. Boulder is the young DJ’s third largest fanbase, according to his Facebook.
A North Carolina native, Robinson said he has been producing music for five years, but has only been DJing for a live audience the past four months.
“I was really thrust into DJing because there is no electronic music scene in North Carolina,” Robinson said. “So I really had to learn on the job because I hadn’t watched DJ’s in the past.”
Robinson truly was thrown into the electronic music scene. Just four months ago his first single was released on Beatport, a website for electronic music distribution. It immediately soared to number one and Robinson soon found himself with a manager and booking agent, performing in clubs when he had never set foot in one before.
Four months later, Robinson, who is still in high school, left his chemistry class to get on an airplane and fly to Colorado where he played for thousands of people at Snowball Music Festival.
“Its an interesting kind of dual life I lead,” Robinson said. “On one hand, I come out here and I have to tear it up and be this cocky motherfucker, and on the other hand I have to submit to my teachers at school, being respectful and polite.”
Robinson said he began making music when he was 13 years old. He laughed when recalling how terrible his first few attempts were, but through perseverance and constructive criticism he said he was able to cultivate a detail-oriented musicality.
“I met people who knew about music and they would criticize my songs pretty harshly, which I find awesome,” Robinson said. “I think it imbued high standards in me to make music that resonates with people.”
Robinson has single-handedly broken through genre barriers to create a music style that electronic music has never heard before, blurring the lines between dubstep, electro and trance, taking from the best elements of each genre.
“I always loved electro, but I’ve always also had a soft spot for trance, the breakdowns especially,” Robinson said. “The climaxes in trance aren’t as exciting to me as the heavy electro drops—so I asked myself, what’s stopping me from combining those two things.”
Robinson combined the two genres seamlessly with his first single “Say My Name,” which reached the number one spot on Beatport shortly after being released online. The haunting breakdowns combined with energetic electro synthesizers and dubstep wobbles made “Say My Name” one of the most hyped songs last year.
“It was my first release and I thought it would be so cool if it got in the top 100 charts on Beatport with all of these other amazing artists,” Robinson said. “And then it went straight to number one—I mean my mind was blown by that.”
However fluid his songs sound, Robinson said that each one takes 40-50 hours each, and that 90 percent of that time is spent agonizing.
“I want to work as hard as I can and totally stress myself out for a great result,” Robinson said. “It has to be painful, otherwise you haven’t earned it.”
Robinson denies that his age has any bearing on the quality of his music, a reasonable assertion considering his 4 year background with production. He did, however, admit that his age probably has something to do with the hype surrounding his recent success.
“If I could just transform myself into being 25 years old I wouldn’t do it, and the reason is because my age is such a good hook,” Robinson said. “But how substantial is it that I’m 18, does that have any bearing on my music? I don’t think so because I’ve been making music for five years now.”
This doesn’t stop his fans and fellow DJs from poking fun at his age. Robinson was recently given a nickname by an MC he was performing with in Germany.
“I remember playing at a German club and the MC gets on the microphone and yells, ‘Porter is the Justin Bieber of electro!’” Robinson said. “That name stuck for a while.”
Robinson said that life on the road could sometimes be difficult, but nothing that he was willing to complain about.
“How on earth could I complain about doing what I do—I party, I meet amazing people, I get to hear my favorite music really loud, and I get to travel the world,” Robinson said. “Its like a dream.”
All of these perks aside, Robinson said that the moment he lives for is when he can make the crowd lose their minds to his music.
“It’s all about the rage,” Robinson said. “If I can drop a song that will make people just—eyes rolled up in the back of their head, hands up, jumping to the beat—that’s my favorite part.”
The young DJ’s career may be just beginning to take off, but Boulder has caught on to the buzz following Robinson in the electronic music scene. The show on April 21 marks Boulder’s role as a stepping stone for the young artist’s future.
Contact CU Independent Contributor Maria DiManna at Maria.firstname.lastname@example.org.