If you’re keen on dance music news, you may have been hearing about the new project, Virtual Self. Emerging with the track Eon Break on October 25, 2017, the side project of Porter Robinson definitely raised some eyebrows. Additionally, Porter’s perceived need to create a whole new alias also brings up some questions.
Why do artists feel the need to create entirely new aliases? What is the backlash that comes with going “off-genre?” Finally, what does Virtual Self mean for the devoted fans of Porter Robinson and his established sound?
To begin understanding Virtual Self and its implications, it’s important to first discuss Porter himself. For those of us who have been fans since day one, we’ve seen him evolve over the course of his career in a way that’s different than most of his peers. He seems to have had battles at length with who he wants to be – and appear – as an artist.
Originally producing under the moniker Ekowraith, Porter gained early recognition with his techno dance club banger appropriately named Booming Track. Only 15 years old at the time, he continued to produce under Ekowraith until he began releasing music under his own name in late 2010. At 18, he dropped the track that launched him into the spotlight and onto the EDM map, Say My Name.
From there, Porter Robinson continued to produce; releasing hits like Spitfire, Language, and Easy, the latter being a collaboration with Mat Zo. Then, in 2014, Porter Robinson dropped the album that has since defined his name and aesthetic, Worlds.
Taking on an entirely different identity than most of his previous work, Worlds showed involvement, was cinematic, and awe inspiring. Additionally, Worlds evoked such a genuine emotion that it was sometimes hard to recognize Porter’s previous releases as his own.
The stark change in style sent shockwaves through the fanbase and industry as a whole. Some fans felt alienated by the more synth-driven, emotional stylings of Worlds. To others, it was thrilling to hear something that to them, truly felt like Porter Robinson. Worlds was more or less a departure from the more angular, heavy style tracks Porter was making up until then.
The tour surrounding Worlds cemented the “new” Porter Robinson even further, using cinematic and picturesque animation and visuals. Largely influenced by Japanese culture and animation, something Porter has always had an affinity with, the Worlds tour was special. Ever since, Worlds defined Porter Robinson’s image, and for many, that made sense.