LessThan3: What do you think about Coachella relative to the other US festivals? Do you feel the difference in the vibe that SoCal is supposedly known for?
Porter: The difference is less of a SoCal thing and more of the demographic of people who come out. Coachella tends to be a little “cooler” and more tastemaker and has a more prominent indie sensibility than other festivals do. What I enjoyed so much about the crowd today was I was able to play some weird, progressive electro and techno and it still got a big reaction. People who attend Coachella are looking to hear something that’s fresh. I enjoy the creative liberty that provides.
LessThan3: Who are some artists you’re following closely these days?
In the last few weeks, Maceo Plex
. It’s some really amazing deep house. The Love In Me
remix has one of the catchiest basslines I’ve ever heard. I was vehemently opposed to deep house for the longest time, but I guess I just didn’t get it yet. Now the appeal is starting to make sense to me. I was on a touring festival circuit in Australia called the Future Music Festival, and every day in the artist area they always had a cute girl DJing deep house in the lounge and there were ping pong tables, pool tables–it was just a great vibe. For an electro DJ, if you’re gonna hear a four-on-the-floor song, you’re looking at it through a narrow lens of what works for you. At this festival, I suddenly came to understand when it is that deep house works and what the appeal is. Part of the appeal of deep house, and most indie genres, is knowing you’re a part of something that is less well-known.
LessThan3: When you started creating your first songs, did you feel like you were creating songs for the underground or the mainstream? Where did you think it was going to have the most impact?
Porter: I had no concept of any sort of scene whatsoever. I’m from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and at the time I was seventeen years old and had never seen a DJ, never been to a club, and had only heard a few DJ sets that I had downloaded off the internet. I hated techno and tech house at the time, and didn’t appreciate the subtlety and challenge that existed—you have to try it to understand that it’s difficult. Another thing I came to learn quickly after my career took off was that the difficulty involved in producing something is not always a great judge of its merit. Effort and quality are not one-to-one all the time. Some of the most elegant songs in the world were made in just a few hours. What happens at the moment of inspiration is why those songs end up being effective. My perspective on EDM has changed radically over the past two years.
LessThan3: Who do you listen to outside of EDM?
Porter: Most of what I’ve listened to in my life has been electronic music, but I really like Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Childish Gambino–people in that “soul beat” category of hip hop. Electronic music has always been my central interest, though.
LessThan3: What mentality do you approach your new songs with? Is there a certain sound you’re going for?
Honestly I’m not entirely sure what my new mentality is. When I’m writing a song there are so many things I have to take into consideration. I want to make something that is new and hasn’t been heard before and use inventive song structures, but I also don’t want my fans to reject it outright. Every song is a balancing game. The approach to my newest one, Language
, was to write something that was delicate and beautiful and to have the climax of the song be melodic but mixed like an electro song. It fakes you out in that it starts with a plucky trance breakdown and then there’s a big melody that winds down into these warping electro beats to give the impression that it’s going to be an electro song. I think it’s my favorite song I’ve ever done, and it’s also very different from anything I’ve released before. I feel very blessed to have fans that have such an open mind. I think I lucked out; I know a lot of my musical peers feel stuck and frustrated because every time they try to do something new, their fans are like “I prefer the old you.”
LessThan3: It seems like the spectrum of genres an artist can cover overall in EDM is widening.
Porter: I think the Internet has helped proliferate different genres among different groups of people. The key is elements of consistency within your own music. The one thing that stays true throughout all my songs is that there is something tonally consistent about them. They all have very clear points of emphasis—you know where the drop is, and where the shifts in sound are.