The electronic dance music world wasn't always so obsessed with the age of its DJs. But Chapel Hill, North Carolina native Porter Robinson, who hit the international scene at 17, may have started an industry-wide mania for the so-called "prodigy." Even tweens are getting record deals in 2014.
But how young is too young to reinvent oneself? At 22, Robinson is already trying to shed his wunderkind rep. Only three years ago, the bass-heavy single "Say My Name" and subsequent Spitfire EP branded Robinson as a teenage sure thing for Top 40 success. He headlined major festivals across the world. He remixed Lady Gaga. He lived the so-called "EDM dream." The only problem: He kind of hated it.
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So Robinson stepped away from the mainstream. He took a break from touring. He hit the studio to immerse himself in Worlds, his debut full-length album. And now he's finally taking the record on the road, with an elaborate stage production that marks a permanent move from DJing to live performance.
"It definitely feels good, and I don't think I have the same angst that I had, performing live, that I had when I was doing the DJing thing," Robinson admits. "I was trying to choose between playing a song that would be effective and playing a song that I wanted to hear and thought other people should hear.
"It felt like a constant compromise, and I think there's something nice about how it's almost awesomely forceful playing only your own music. There's no room for saying, 'Well, these people aren't really feeling this, so I'll switch it up to appease them.' You like my music and you want to hear what I have to say as an artist, or you're not going to have fun."
Ultimately, being just another producer spinning other people's songs wasn't satisfying.
"Djing, to me, is fun in the same way as when somebody hands you the auxiliary cable in the car and you get to take control of the music," Robinson jokes. "What I like about the live thing, it allows me to riff and to change the chord progression, depending on the feeling of the night, and just do different moods. You can contribute to the songs when you're playing them live. I still think that DJing is the funnest. It's just not for me, because of the way that I want to express my music."
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