Porter Robinson opens up with new single, ‘Something Comforting’
In January, Porter Robinson released his first single since his 2014 debut album, Worlds. Titled ‘Get Your Wish’, the single was about “finding a reason to keep going, even if it’s not for your own sake,” and we described it as “a twinkling, exploding, expansive cut of electronic fantasy we’ve come to love from Robinson.” Now, he’s back today with another incredibly intimate new single titled ‘Something Comforting’. Moving from the sparse opening notes of a finger-plucked guitar into the hypercoloured, hard-hitting drops of electro, ‘Something Comforting’ is another hugely special release from Porter Robinson in a number of ways. Not only is another stellar slice of futuristic fantasy electro-pop, it represents something so much bigger than just the next phase of his release cycle — for him and for his fans.
In a video on Twitter, Porter speaks directly to camera to discuss the song and provide some context for what it means to him. He told fans in the video that he began ‘Something Comforting’ at the peak of his struggles with his mental illness.
about ‘Something Comforting’: pic.twitter.com/HmKiM7AMUk
— porter robinson (@porterrobinson) March 10, 2020
“I was trying for hundreds of hours a week to make something new, and trying so many new ideas, and just feeling unhappy with everything, feeling really, really critical of everything that I was doing, and just feeling like nothing was good enough, and just at the absolute creative low point. And I was really beginning to question whether or not I would ever be able to make music again. And that was a very scary thought to me.”
He goes onto explain that it was also during this time he wrote the instrumental hook we can hear when the song drops, and his face lights up as he plays it in the video. “That was the very first thing that I knew I was going to keep,” he explained. “And I’ve probably listened to it like 10,000 times, maybe more. I would just listen to it obsessively because I was like, ‘This is good enough. This is my taste. This is my shit.’” He goes onto tell fans more about how he would continue to revisit this hook as a way to work on his music and use it as a reminder that he could indeed write music he’s proud of.
Looking back to January, on ‘Get Your Wish’, Robinson noted it was indeed him singing but that he had used effects to make his voice sound higher. “I did it because it made it easier to talk about painful subjects directly, and then slowly I grew really attached to the sound of that voice,” Robinson said at the time. This is what makes ‘Something Comforting’ immediately striking as Robinson starts the song off with a simple guitar and his normal, unedited voice as he sings, “If I send this void away/ Have I lost a part of me?” As the song progresses, the edited voice returns until the final moments where Robinson alternates between both voices. In the Twitter video, Porter Robinson said he liked this final section for being “kinda explanatory that it’s me, because it’s REALLY important that it’s me singing.” He also explained that he initially wanted this to be the first single for a very long time, specifically because of this section.
For a longtime Porter Robinson fan, this song and this section are indeed big moments: here we have an artist that was crippled for years by depression and creative struggle, completely unable to create until he discovered ways of almost removing himself from his music. From the edited vocals, which he confirmed he has used a lot on his forthcoming record, to releasing music under the name Virtual Self, it can’t be overstated how difficult the last few years have been for Robinson in his true self. He noted elsewhere in the video that while he made the instrumental hook at the start of this period, it would be three years before he’d be able to complete another song, and almost five before he’d be able to complete this particular song. It’s clear then that, with the release of ‘Something Comforting’ and this brave step forward into utilising his own voice, it serves as a timestamp in his journey of reckoning with who he is and what he’s been through the last few years, and him coming back into his own again.
It’s remarkable how open Porter continues to be in this release cycle. With the release of ‘Something Comforting’, the lyrics are raw and real as he continues to shy away from airing what he’s gone through. In doing so, the connection between him and his fans has never been stronger and, with the re-introduction of his real vocals given the context in which the song was created, he not only invites his fans into his world but lets them know they’re not alone and that there is a way out the other side. For years, he wanted to be anyone else but himself, but now finally he steps back into the light. It’s a glorious, technicoloured hug and a breath of relief from Robinson — he’s really made it through. Listen to ‘Something Comforting’ below.
Nurture is out this year via Mom + Pop.
Words by Emma Jones