DJ Porter Robinson creating own words to illustrate music he loves

You can call DJ-composer Porter Robinson many things – the next big thing; a hit-music prodigy; a boy wonder; and other patronizing labels.

I prefer to think of Robinson as electronic music’s budding intellectual. Which is good. Dance music needs a young sort of Neil deGrasse Tyson.

At 19, Robinson – hailing from university-rich Chapel Hill, N.C., but minus the drawl – is already a wordsmith insider. He can deconstruct exactly why his music is kicking your ass.

I’ve seen him perform twice. Let me tell you. He is really, really good.

He recently toured with Skrillex and Zedd, which was a perfect triangle, because each of those DJs shares an enviable musical trait: They get bored fast. Therefore, they compose and remix tones, textures and tunes a lot, staving off musical ennui.

Now, let me give you a peek at what it’s like to talk with Robinson. (He DJs Saturday at Surrender nightclub and on his birthday Sunday at Encore Beach Club, then at XS.)

I asked about his tweet from June 20 when he wrote, "I think my fetishization of all the old music that I have nostalgia for has damaged my perspective as an artist."

Here’s his explanation.

"You have to be honest with yourself," he said. "A lot of people don’t realize how much nostalgia biases them. People say, ‘Man, I miss the old days of trance,’ or ‘I miss the old days of electro.’ When in reality, that music wasn’t necessarily better. It’s just something you have a lot of nostalgia for."

True. And Robinson asserts you probably didn’t feel as strongly about that old music when you were actually experiencing it the first time around.

"I’m especially susceptible to that bias. I get so sentimental about all the music I used to listen to, and I spend too much time trying to emulate old sounds."

His bottom line: "Try to be open to newer sounds."

I told Robinson I was grateful for how astutely he describes peers’ music. He once defined the overall structure of Deadmau5 as "extremely personal" and Wolfgang Gartner as "pioneered."

I consider myself wise and knowledgeable. But I never thought of Deadmau5 as "extremely personal" until Robinson pegged him thus. He was right. "Extremely personal" clarifies everything about Deadmau5. I envied this insight.

Robinson uses vibrant and raw terms to illustrate his own music, such as "aggressive, energetic, evil, (expletive) you music" that will melt your face off.

"I spend a lot of time thinking about, and talking about, the music I’m passionate about," Robinson said.

A few weeks ago, he was touring on a bus with Mat Zo and The M Machine. And the following happened:

"We developed words for certain sounds that there aren’t words for," he said. "One word we use is to describe a certain physicality and a sense of space in music: We use the word ‘Swoc.’ "

Swoc?

"It basically has to do with sounds interacting with one another in a way that feels physical, and not a whole lot of overlap," he said.

Robinson is so popular that one day he and those tour mates mentioned the word "swoc" during a Ustream.com feed, and fans jumped on the word immediately.

"When we got to our show that night, there were six or seven kids there with ‘Swoc’ shirts on and had signs that said ‘Swoc me.’ It was so crazy."

(By the way, "Swoc" is just "cows" spelled backward, an inspiration conjured while riding past a pasture.)

Robinson’s words can get carried away. He devised the subgenre word "complextro" (fast, bassy, tech-glitchy), but the spread of the word was an accident. He doesn’t sound thrilled about it.

"I came up with ‘Complextro,’ maybe the most hated genre name of all time," he said. "But I wasn’t trying to name a genre when I came up with that word."

This was a few years ago when glitchy electro wasn’t abundant in dance spheres, other than a few songs by Deadmau5, Gartner and some DJs on the Beatport charts.

"I was making that style of music, and I wanted to push it. So I just put a little note up … on my (expletive) MySpace, of all things, that said, Complextro: a funny little portmanteau of complex electro.

"And eventually, people adopted that as a genre. I never meant to push that."

Anyway, talking with Robinson makes you wish more people should talk deeper about the music that moves them.

"Hopefully we can create a movement of people who think about, and are interested in, the intellectual exploration of music," Robinson said.

I couldn’t agree more. Bring it, music theorists.

Doug Elfman’s column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Email him at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
TLC by the Numbers
Watch Ruthless! at Las Vegas Little Theatre
The musical Ruthless! will be playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre from July 13-29. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cadaver art and sword swallowing at The Dark Arts Market
Curator Erin Emrie talks about her inspiration for The Dark Arts Market at Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Pawn Stars' Richard Harrison honored at memorial service
A memorial service was conducted for Richard "Old Man" Harrison at Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas on Sunday, July 1, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Tourists and locals enjoy Independence Day fireworks at Caesars Palace
Hundreds of tourists and locals gaze at the Independence Day fireworks show at Caesars Palace on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
5 must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
Five must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table.
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pixar Pier At Disneyland Is Open With New Food And A New Roller Coaster
Pixar Pier At Disneyland Is Open With New Food And A New Roller Coaster (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Here's What It's Like To Ride The New Incredicoaster At Disneyland
Here's What It's Like To Ride The New Incredicoaster At Disneyland (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
"Pawn Stars" fans visit Richard Harrison's memorial at Gold & Silver Pawn
"Pawn Stars" fans from around the world visit the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas following the passing of Richard "Old Man" Harrison on Monday, June 25, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Get a sneak peek at Palace Station's newest renovations
Station Casinos spokesperson Lori Nelson gives a first look at what Palace Station's $192 million renovation will bring. Some areas will begin opening to the public next week according to Nelson. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
You Can Only Get The 11-pound 8-person Burger In Las Vegas
You Can Only Get The 11-pound 8-person Burger In Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Paul McCartney is worth over $1 billion
Sir Paul McCartney is one of the most celebrated and accomplished musicians in history. He just turned 76 on June 18. McCartney grew to international fame with the Beatles and went on to become a wildly successful solo musician. Paul McCartney’s net worth is estimated at $1.2 billion, according to Celebrity Net Worth. In 2017, McCartney landed the No. 13 spot on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid musicians, earning $54 million for the year. On Thursday, June 20, McCartney will release a double A-side single featuring two new songs, "I Don't Know" and "Come On to Me." McCartney has yet to announce a title of his new album or when it will be released. Th album is expected to be released before he headlines the Austin City Limits Music fest in October.
Bellagio's New Conservatory Brings Italian Summer To Las Vegas
Bellagio's New Conservatory Brings Italian Summer To Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kari Curletto of Las Vegas put over 500 hours into making her toilet paper wedding dress. (Courtesy Kari Curletto)
Kari Curletto of Las Vegas put over 500 hours into making her toilet paper wedding dress. (Courtesy Kari Curletto)
The Real Crepe In Las Vegas Serves Authentic Crepes In The Style Of Brittany, France
The Real Crepe In Las Vegas Serves Authentic Crepes In The Style Of Brittany, France. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
New Marilyn Musical Brings Screen Icons Life To Strip
Paris Las Vegas hosts musical bio featuring new, old tunes. (Carol Cling Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas' hottest concerts of the summer
Vegas' hottest concerts of the summer
We Taste-tested The Best Doughnut Shops In Las Vegas
We Taste-tested The Best Doughnut Shops In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
The "13 Reasons Why" mustang cruises down the Las Vegas Strip (Courtesy Netflix)
4 fun and fascinating museums in Las Vegas
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like