“That was so wrongheaded”: Porter Robinson regrets dismissing EDM as “not really art”, and admits that he’d never heard Mr Brightside until he started playing guitar a few years ago

Porter Robinson
(Image credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella)

Initially viewed as EDM’s bedroom wunderkind, US musician Porter Robinson would later grow disillusioned with the genre and leave it behind. For a time, in fact, he was so frustrated with the tag that he was once captured on video dismissing ‘Electronic Dance Music’ as “not really art”. However, he now admits that he regrets his choice of words.

“That was so wrongheaded,” he recently told the Independent. “EDM is clearly art… that video was me trying to escape something and being a bit of a dickhead honestly.”

The video in question was posted by the NME in the run-up to the release of Worlds, Robinson’s debut album, in 2014. 

“A lot of the EDM stuff stopped being appealing to me not because of the culture of it but more so because the music is quite functional,” says Robinson in the clip. “It exists to make people go crazy, and to me in a lot of ways it’s entertainment and it’s not really art. I know that sounds kind of pompous but, just in terms of expression I think there’s kind of a ceiling to what you can do when you’re trying to operate within this tiny little circle of stuff that can make people go crazy and jump up and down and wanna have an awesome party.”

To be fair to Robinson, even back then he qualified this critique, adding that: “I don’t think that EDM is bad or anything because I totally loved it at the time and I have no aspiration to change that culture at all or to make people choose between that and me.”

Today, he says the decision to remove himself from the big-room battleground came when he realised that “It was turning into this arena-sized highly commercial thing, which wasn’t what I wanted to do, and the whole EDM festival thing felt super whack to me. I was becoming known for a genre I couldn’t vouch for anymore.”

Robinson has been open about his mental health struggles around this time, something that he reflected on on Nurture, his second album, which was released in 2021. He’s set to return in July with SMILE! :D, his third long player, which is said to throw a few guitar ballads into the mix as well. Robinson came late to this particular instrument, and confesses that he’d never really listened to the likes of Radiohead and Coldplay before.

In fact, so poor was his knowledge of 21st century guitar music that he was even unfamiliar with The Killers’ Mr Brightside, which has probably been played at every wedding and party for the past two decades. “I had never heard it before - no one believes me!,” he told the Independent.

Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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