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Porter Robinson to emerging artists: “Don’t play the game”

“Hi, I’m Porter. I’m 22-years-old, I think. I like electronic music. And the last couple of years have been kind of weird for me.” So began Porter Robinson’s keynote address at the 2014 Electronic Music Conference, which kicked off this morning in Kings Cross.

Porter and moderator Nick Thayer covered a lot of ground in their 40 minutes on the EMC stage, from the path that led him to creating his album Worlds to Robinson’s love for the Australia’s electronic scene. But with this year’s conference all about ‘discovery’ – how emerging artist can break through – Porter also had some advice to impart to those in the early stages of their career.

Basically? Focus on making music that’s true to you instead of trying to ‘play the game’. “The more effort you put into changing the game, the less likely it is to happen. The best subversion happens naturally,” he told the crowd. “To take an artist who I’m sure will be mentioned continually through this conference, look at Flume,” Porter continued, illustrating how the Future Classic star sells out shows the names in DJ Mag ’s Top 100 can’t because his sound doesn’t just emulate what’s in the charts.

“I think the better way is to do it is try and do something that stands out. And having an identity is really important for that,” he continued, with one caveat: “I’m not saying authenticity is this magic bullet. You might do something authentic and just have bad taste.”

The Worlds producer explained that it was never his end-game to be a superstar DJ. “I never had this dream like ‘I want to hustle and become a successful DJ’. It really wasn’t like that at the time.”

“I don’t think I really admire hustle,” he continued. “I really think that can be counterproductive, banging down peoples door with your mixtape.” Instead, Porter says, work on coming out with music that breaks the mould. “People shoot themselves in the foot by ‘playing the game’.”

The Electronic Music Conference continues in Kings Cross today and tomorrow, with EMC Play – the huge nighttime schedule of showcase parties – taking over the Cross both nights. Last minute EMC conference passes can be purchased at Kinselas and EMC Play wristbands, which give you access to all 14 showcases for $49, are available from the EMC Play booth at 76 Darlinghurst Rd.