When reflecting upon electronic dance music culture, it is impossible not to take note of the PLUR-filled principles in which its supporters practice. But despite the constant preaching of these values, the community never fails to come together for the battle of mainstream vs. underground, one of the most noteworthy arguments that does not seem to come to an end.
Porter Robinson has made his stance on the topic clear: he wants to move away from the mainstream sound that appeals to the masses. Before the release of his single "Sea of Voices" in March, he took to Twitter to share numerous thoughts with his followers about how he has been feeling, the single itself, the direction in which he is taking the upcoming album and why.
He tweeted, “Years ago, I realized that I wanted to write an album that focused on beauty above all else. The feeling of hugeness and gorgeousness and vastness and beauty is what I fucking live for. It’s my favorite thing in the world. I kept trying to write songs that both satisfied me artistically and also could 'work' in a DJ set. Nobody ever heard these songs because they sucked and made me miserable. Again and again, I found that making a track 'danceable' just meant compromising and ignoring what the song really needed. And I found that the more I forced myself to work within those DJ-friendly limits, the more I resented the genre. I realized that the rift between the music that works for DJs and the music that I love had grown too huge to ignore.”
At the ripe age of 22, Robinson has shown more maturity than a majority of the people bashing other artists and sub-genres within the EDM realm. Although these types of Twitter rants can be taken as adding fuel to the mainstream vs. underground fire, what he has done is admirable. He not only communicated his thoughts successfully, but he also backed up everything he stands for with the release of "Sea of Voices".
He added, “I've had multiple anxiety attacks on stage this year and it was always related to feeling like a fraud. It sucked. The fucking watershed moment in writing Worlds was when I realized that I didn't have to write songs for DJs. I realized that my need to be honest with myself and with you was greater than my need to be famous or whatever.”
Worlds has proven to be groundbreaking with just the release of four singles off of the album, its supplementary artwork, and the announcement of a massive tour in which he will not be playing a DJ set, but a live show instead. The sounds that come from these songs are melodic, inspirational, and majestic all at the same time. When thinking of a way to describe the feelings generated when listening to his new music, what comes to mind is the quote, “and in that moment, I swear we were infinite,” from the coming-of-age novel/film The Perks of Being A Wallflower. But Worlds is much more monumental for other reasons.
Robinson's actions show that he is a pioneer in the electronic music world with his new album, and hopefully more artists follow in his footsteps rather than engage in the mainstream vs. underground battle without really taking any sort of action. He has shed light on a concerning topic and has proven it’s okay for headlining artists to stray away from the festival-appealing drops. It's important for producers to stay true to themselves, and that's what Robinson has done.
A few days ago, Robinson uploaded "Flicker" to his SoundCloud channel. The track is the fourth beautiful song we've heard off his upcoming album.