Porter Robinson Talks Virtual Self, Mental Health Advice & Calvin Harris’ Nod Of Approval

We lift the lid on the ‘Ghost Voices’ producer’s side project, which is giving EDM a kick up the a$$...

Porter Robinson is on a mission to shake up the electronic music world. At the tail end of last year, after a two-year break from the scene, he returned with his Virtual Self project, a loving homage to the some of the sounds of the early noughties, brought on by what he describes as a reaction to the “compromises” he felt were being made in the EDM scene.

Dubbing it ‘neo-trance’, the new five-track EP under his new moniker blends trance, hardcore, techno and more nostalgic genres for the most diverse collection of electronic dance music we’ve heard in an eon.

We got Porter on the phone to talk why he created his new alias, how he takes care of his mental health and more…

Porter told us around 2014 is when he felt “people had really grown sick of the big room EDM sound that was dominating the festival main stages.

“There were a lot of compromises being made,” in terms of some producers or acts looking for a radio-friendly hit, he said, “and I think that as somebody who loves electronic music and who wants it to do well and I want even the most visible parts of the scene, even the mainstream to be producing music that’s worthwhile and that we can all be proud of. I was like ‘I really want electronic music to be great.’

“I don’t say any of this to knock any individual artist,” he continued, “…but I do think electronic music is at its healthiest when people are trying to do something new and pull from influences they haven’t pulled from before.”

And thus, Virtual Self was born.

Porter Robinson

Credit: Jasmine Safaeian Yasi

Porter Robinson

‘Ghost Voices’ has since made the Radio 1 C list and has had the likes of Calvin Harris tweeting out their approval, who dubbed it rightly so as a ‘big tune’.

“I was just really surprised when Calvin tweeted that out,” he revealed. “I’ve never interacted with him before, ever, and even as Porter we never had any relationship. Often times people won’t even say that kind of things when their buddies release new music, so I messaged him and I told him - and this is true - that I think his track from 2009 ‘I’m Not Alone’ was really inspirational for this project. It’s one of the only tracks from the last 10 years that sort of gives me that classic sort of trance feeling.”

In previous interviews Porter has opened up about battles with depression, so we took the opportunity to ask how he looks after his own mental health. The producer revealed he finds it useful to research various forms of therapy before committing to one route, one such being exposure therapy.

“I spend a good deal of time doing, for anxiety what’s known as exposure therapy where basically you’re supposed to confront things that cause you anxiety and learn to tolerate. It’s all about learning to tolerate discomfort rather that avoiding anything that might make you feel uncomfortable.”

Virtual Self
Virtual Self

In the more general sense, Porter added: “Try to avoid putting insane amounts of pressure on yourself and kind of have compassion for yourself if you can, I don’t know, try to not eat shit and go for a walk if you can! Those kinds of things….

“It’s almost interesting sometimes how the most obvious advice possible is often so helpful, but the thing that I will say is that I wish that from the beginning I had looked at outcomes of various kinds of therapies, because I spent years doing just normal talk therapy where you just try to get to the bottom of what your issues are, and it turns out outcomes for that aren’t really that effective – it helps some people, but a lot of other people it doesn’t really get to the root of the issue.”

As for returning to being ‘Porter Robinson’ anytime soon he revealed: “I’m never going to stop writing music as Porter Robinson and I see Virtual Self as more of a tangent. I’m releasing more music as Virtual Self, I’m definitely going to be touring Virtual Self. I’ll be doing Creamfields this year which I’m excited about because Radio 1 has really been playing Ghost Voices quite a bit and through that and the song seems to be reacting really well in the UK.”

Keep it coming, Porter!

'Porter Robinson’s Virtual Self EP is out now.'

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