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Porter Robinson Nurtures His Sound After Seven Year Drought

The past seven years have been all but stable for American DJ prodigy Porter Robinson. The Atlanta-based musician experienced many challenges that muddled his creativity, including walks with depression and anxiety. Now, he returns stronger and more transparent than ever on Nurture, his latest hour-long record.

The self-taught Robinson attributes his success to the evolution of the internet. Enthralled by everything eurodance, he scoured the internet and began producing at the young age of twelve. Although he mixed under the alias Ekowraith, his passion continued as his audience grew. He released “Say My Name” under his own name in 2010, which quickly conquered the No. 1 spot on Beatport—the hub for everything EDM. This release launched Robinson into the fray, where he joined other notable club-hoppers Zedd, Skrillex, and more.

Robinson released his debut album Worlds in 2014, an album that focuses on fictional realms, a la World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy. Robinson expresses his admiration for these video games, as they were integral to his childhood. He recalls making countless friendships through in-game servers. He fondly refers to Worlds as a love letter to his experiences on these platforms.

Robinson notes that he went through a period of extreme self-induced pressure shortly after releasing Worlds. He recalls dragging himself to the studio in desperate attempts to create new material, which ultimately damaged his psyche. In an attempt to remedy his ever-growing production drought, he isolated himself from family and friends and increased his typical work schedule. This only further limited Robinson, as he felt directionless—nearly quitting music entirely. Robinson expresses his newfound recognition that life experiences of any kind are, “this raw material, this soil, this fertile ground for new stuff to grow” (Robinson, Zach Sang Show).

Robinson recognized his need for a new outlet, which became the catalyst for his second full-length album, Nurture. Shifting his focus from his heavy bass drops and synthetic production, staples during his early career, Robinson seamlessly intertwines piano and softer, more melodic choruses into his latest release. Robinson refers to this new sound as a fateful blend of indie-pop and electronic—a new direction for the now 28-year-old producer. 

The name Nurture resonates with Robinson, exploring the link between nature and nurture as our experiences and our reactions to said stimuli. He fully embraces the impact his surroundings have on him on this airy and refreshing record. Robinson does not hide this idea, as the cover art depicts him face planting into the grass—the nature—that is right in front of him.

Nurture contains five singles and nine entirely new tracks for fans to enjoy. Having personally missed all five of these singles, hearing the fourteen tracks for the first time was truly a pleasure. Robinson’s lyrics are emotional and deep, while the melodies are fun and embracing. His pitched-altered voice creates this ongoing dialogue between himself and his mind, and the result is truly a work of beauty.

The initial track “Lifelike” is the first piano ballad, introducing fans to this unfamiliar endeavor. It is lighthearted and refreshing — signalling Robinson’s maturity. He wants you to know that this is a new sound right from the get-go. Transitioning into “Look at the Sky” is a logical next step, as Robinson engages in a duet with himself. This track embodies hope and prospect.

“Wind Tempos” is surprisingly lengthy, clocking in at just over six minutes. This is Robinson’s second instrumental piece that encourages daydreaming—in a good way. It’s easy to get lost in your thoughts while listening to this studded track.

Robinson shatters the mold on “Musician.” While the entirety of the project embodies hope and stability, this track derails ever so slightly. Robinson reflects on the pressures of being a modern musician. He incorporates the words of those who tried to convince him that it’s time to grow up and “find a real job.” It’s one of the few tracks that allows Robinson to dance with his inner demons. Signalling his rekindled admiration for music, he echoes to the doubters, “Oh, it’s calling / I just can’t stop, I’m sorry / I can feel a new day dawn.”

While “Musician” highlights Robinson’s maturity and newfound rekindlement for music, “dullscythe” secures the role of Robinson’s most creative and reflective piece on Nurture. The four-minute track is divided into two distinct portions—one half of the instrumental is glitchy and almost nauseating, whereas the second portion is beautiful and cohesive. This track highlights Robinson’s struggles throughout his seven-year drought. Although he once struggled to put any semblance of a song together, he eventually accepted his situation, found a new outlet, and produced an elegant and emotional record.

While the entire hour is enticing in its own right, other upbeat and noteworthy jams include “Get Your Wish,” “Mirrors,” and “do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do.”

Nurture was Robinson’s avenue to explore a new sound, but he notes this will not be his default going forward. He misses out on touring and states that his next project will combine all of his skills while looking for his next “love letter.”

Fans of Porter Robinson can look forward to his next in-person event Second Sky. Presale tickets go live on May 5th at 10:00am PST. You can learn more about Robinson’s inspirations and setbacks while producing Nurture through his interview on the Zach Sang Show.

Nurture is available now.

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