Porter Robinson and Madeon still have faith in electronic music
What took the longest to make? Was it Shelter the actual track, or the animation, or building the live show?
Porter: Hugo wasn’t involved in the animation part, so I wouldn’t really compare that. That itself took over a year. Obviously that was a lot of effort from animators and directors. Between the song and the tour, it’s different kinds of effort. The tour was a really concentrated burst of high effort, it was a very intense period of time where we were not sleeping.
Madeon: We discussed a lot what the show would be like. We didn’t sit down and be like, “Oh let’s make a show,” and then had to devise it. It’s an idea that came naturally, because as we were having discussions ahead of writing Shelter about what was common about our discography, what our differences were, and how to relate it to each other. Some elements of what would make it work as a show came to us against our will.
This show idea felt obvious and came to us so similarly to Shelter as a song, where you can have a burst of inspiration followed by a long period of effort. But then making all those new versions of songs, editing this discography, and turning it into something new was probably the most difficult thing we’ve done. We both worked in our respective homes for weeks, for fifteen hours a day, every day up until the first show.
“We both worked in our respective homes for weeks, for fifteen hours a day, every day up until the first show” – Madeon
Porter: Yeah and we can’t overstate how difficult preparing the kind of live shows that we do is. It’s really hard. It takes a lot of effort and time. That’s why it was so hard to compare. I think Shelter was a mile-long effort with a lot of revisions, and the show just contains objectively more new music than what we released together. It’s just, by its nature, very time-consuming.
Was that whole process cathartic for you, or did it just break you and drive you a bit crazy?
Porter: It was hard.
Madeon: I think it was both. I think the thing about writing music over a long period of time is that sometimes you have that high where you think what you’re making is amazing, and then it wears off and you realise it’s not as great. The longer you have, the more perspective you have.
With the show we had to make so much music in such a short period of time, it was really difficult for us to know as we were making it how good it actually was. We couldn’t quite tell if it was something that we were going to be really proud of at the end or not. On the last day when we started putting all of the music together into one continuous thread, we started listening to it, I remember Porter and I being very tired, very nervous. We were really anxious that we were going to find a lot of problems or not really going to like it, and instead we were just thrilled. I was jumping around and I was incredibly relieved, but throughout making the show I didn’t have the perspective. That satisfaction came at the very end.
How does doing a side by side live show compare to doing one solo?
Porter: I think it’s more fun, personally. It’s just really thrilling to be surprised by somebody else and to have that kind of back and forth, and I also think having someone relying on you to do a good job brings out some additional effort. We can motivate each other when we don’t feel good and we can identify problems and give each other feedback. It’s the funnest tour I’ve ever done.
Madeon: You made a point in the past, Porter, which was that when we’re both on stage we’re actually playing to two audiences. We’re playing to the crowd and playing to each other, because we are there for every show so we know when something is better than usual, or when something is worse than usual. We have someone on stage with us that is going to be very highly knowledgeable and critical and more discerning than anybody else about the quality of a performance, and that forces us to be at our best.
Porter: It’s a constructive but intense kind of pressure. I love playing Shelter live. I went back and played Worlds live a few times and I’ll continue to do that this year, and there were a lot of aspects of that show that are really missed. It’s really fun for us and I think for the audience how up front we are locally and the Shelter live show. We’re singing each other’s songs and that’s not really anything expected sort of thing for people who come from the dance music world to do, and that just makes it all the more fun and different, and I think people get surprised. I like the way it distinguishes what we do from other artists that we get compared to.
Porter, you tweeted the other day about working on new music for this year.
Porter: So did Hugo, by the way.
Did working on Shelter help get the creative juices going for both of you?
Porter: I think Hugo was having some major creative breakthroughs before Shelter, and I don’t know what he does and doesn’t want me to say, but it’s some of the best music I am aware of and ever heard and really excited for it. That preceded Shelter for me. I had a hard 2015, and 2016 working with Hugo – sharing in some of his breakthroughs and working on the tour and seeing all the enthusiasm that people still have for the show – I know it’s dumb to care about, but I’m seeing the number of faces out in the crowd, it renews your confidence.
“I know it’s dumb to care about, but I’m seeing the number of faces out in the crowd, it renews your confidence” – Porter
Madeon: We mentioned earlier that we both work and the same bedrooms that we’ve always worked in. As our careers develop, sometimes when you’re home for a while, you kind of forget how much the scale has changed. When we started making music in that exact same room, when making music for nobody and now we make music for so many people, and I think that reminder of that is incredibly invigorating.
Porter: Completely agree. I can say without question that working on Shelter really helped me. Working on the video helped me a bunch. I think most of my breakthroughs creatively have come after the bulk of the tour was over. I came home and had a really great period of working on music and a lot of enthusiasm. The recent few months have been really great for me and the collaboration helped a lot.
So are new albums in the works for both of you at the moment?
Porter: I can’t really confirm a new album for me necessarily. I just know that I’m working on a lot of music and I don’t know how it’s going to be presented or what form it’s going to take, but that’s where I’m at. I’m not making an album at this minute, or anything like that.
I feel like you have answered this question in interviews before, but I may as well give it another go – is Shelter absolutely it for you guys, or would you work on another piece of music in the future?
Madeon: No, it’s very specific in our contract that we never see each other again after the last show.
Porter: That’s a major stipulation for both of us. [laughs]
Madeon: I think we made Shelter with the understanding that we wouldn’t collaborate again for a while. Who knows what will happen in the long term, but it’s not something we’re gonna try to recreate immediately. We saw an opportunity where with our style and our taste, and our careers aligned in a way. We think that maybe in the future we’ll make music that is so different that it wouldn’t make as much sense to collaborate. That’s not something we’re thinking about yet anyway.
Porter: No matter what happens I think I’ll be involved in what Hugo is doing for a very long time, because we still influence each other a lot.
Madeon: I think it’ll come back to what it’s always been, which is that we send each other all the music we make and we talk about each other’s music all the time. With Shelter we managed to give our fans a glimpse of that and how important our feedback and our music is to each other.
Porter: Yeah I think so as well. It’s not like it’s our permeant plan to never talk to each other again, and it’s definitely not that we are forming a band. Some people reported pretty inaccurately that we had an album together that was coming, and that was never true. We made it really clear from the beginning that it’s all about Shelter and that’s that. If people want to listen to music from Porter and Madeon, that’s what they should listen to. That’s what we’re giving and it’s what we’re proud of.
Porter Robinson + Madeon ‘Shelter’ tour dates
Katie Cunningham the Editor of inthemix. She is on Twitter.