[Interview] Porter Robinson and Madeon Talk Shelter Live Tour and Developing their own secret language

November 17, 2016 -

Will Cuccurullo

Porter Robinson and Madeon are in town for the Shelter Live Tour at Madison Square Garden this Thursday and Friday. We got a chance to sit down with the duo and discuss creating music from a place of legitimacy, playing live, and potential projects in the future.

DailyBeat: Porter has noted in the past that 'Shelter' was a highly personalized vision, as was 'Worlds'. What was it like to add a second mind to such an introspective process?

Porter Robinson: Shelter is equally representative of both of us. Hugo (Madeon) is a huge driving force behind the lyrics. The reason we picked the subject matter, our family and this idea of kind of achieving legacy between generations, because it was really equally important to both of us. So we really chose a subject matter that came from both of our lives. Worlds was a really really personal thing, Shelter was really this adventure even though it was challenging writing a single for Shelter.

DB: I know that Shelter the video was a separate entity from Shelter the song at one point. My question for Hugo was what was it like to come on board and incorporate your own personal style into the project?

Madeon: So Porter had the idea of making a video for a long time, and it took so long that by the time it was being put together Shelter as a song was already written. We realized that the script that Porter wrote, that story that he wrote for the video made so much more sense for Shelter as a song than it did for the song it was initially written for. And so, Porter and I talked, and we agreed that he would have entire control over the executing vision. And to me it was just a great surprise, and a really happy accident to be a part of it. I felt like it really resonated with the lyrics we wrote.

DB: I think you can hear both of your influences on the track equally. Another thing I wanted to ask was about the live show. With both of you being talented artists (and good on a launchpad) how did you go about breaking up the live performance?

Madeon: We just had this vision where we really wanted to have the two of us on stage together playing at the same time. That was the starting point.  And then when realized there would be so much opportunity to play with each other because were both really big fans of each other. And so, you know, Porter plays his version of my songs, I play my version of his songs and then we try to find the most relevant way to perform it live. And so throughout the show we go from playing, to singing, to playing drums and keyboards, and launchpads, and we try to do everything that we can to make it as live and as fun for us as possible.

DB: I was wondering about the live edit you made (Flickr) that we saw on the tour and what the process was like creating that, considering your sounds have always been compared.

Madeon: I think both Porter and I are quite aware of both our similarities and our differences, and so it was really often, like for example, the 'Flickr' Madeon version, for any specific one. But Porter and I were talking and Porter he said "What do you think of my song 'Pay No Mind'" and he loved the swing of it and so we figured what would it sound like if we applied some of those techniques to his writing and to his sound. And so a lot of it, you know, came from just, I just find stuff that I loved about each others music that we could never do on our own, in making it.

Porter: Yeah, you know, even in the Madeon rendition of a Porter song or the Porter reinterpretation of a Madeon song, one another, were still...going through feedback with each other. There was nothing separate at all about the process of preparing this show. Yeah, I think totally, I mean we understand each other so well, and we have a way... like when twins develop their own secret language... We talk to each other with so many references and mutual understanding that we can communicate really efficiently and finish each others sentences, and I think that efficiency of communication and the mutual understanding really was a big part of our preparing the show and our ability to get whole process done really polished and on time.

DB: I think theirs such a rarity of that in electronic music because so much of it turns into being in control of all parts of the creative process. Since you guys have this understanding, I wanted to follow up and ask if theirs any talks of an album?

Madeon: I think Porter and I, one of the reasons we wanted to do this right now, is that we realized that our agendas and our sensibilities really overlapped after our respective albums, but we know that we also have some very different tastes. So moving forward, our music in the future may sound very different from one another. So we feel like right now was an opportunity to collaborate, and we hope that we do something again together. But maybe it'll be in ten years, you know? So yeah as much as we love this project we also want to make sure that we keep growing... so yeah, I feel like we've seen that moment with Shelter.

DB: You've always blown me away with your launchpad work. So on the launchpad, does Madeon take that over with that being his trademark or Porter, I know you're skilled with it as well?

Porter: Oh, actually no, I barely know how to use it. The only context where I've used the launchpad, sometimes during Pop Culture, which is the famous launchpad video. Hugo will hold it up and allow me to play the solo... I don't know how to do it, its all him. And on my side, I've got a drumpad which Hugo doesn't use. So, yeah, we've divided things up not only by, you know, what we prefer but also by ability. Because there are some areas where our skills just don't overlap.

DB: Through this process, I know you guys have known each other for a long time, and everyone knows you're friends. What was the learning experience in making 'Shelter' for both of you?

Madeon: Yeah, I think, I think one of the realizations we made writing the song, that its easier to write songs and lyrics that are genuine, and that it's something that we've both been really interested in lately; you know, writing our own lyrics, transferring as much of our lives into it. At first, we started writing 'Shelter' with an attitude of being a little abstract about it, because we thought it would be difficult to find themes and subject matter that would resonate with the both of us. And, umm, there was a struggle. As soon as we realized that we were gonna write a song that came from our lives and that we both can relate to. It was so much easier. So that was the biggest takeaway for me from this experience.

Porter: Yeah, yes, he stole mine. My... that, well, that was the big takeaway from Shelter. How it's easier to write from a place of sincerity. How, like, how much having really,  really, resonant lyrics that people care about, and how much that can improve a song. I think since we came at music from the perspective of producers, we weren't that experienced with lyrics in the past, and we think a big part of what makes 'Shelter' work is the lyrics. I mean, you feel it when we play it at the shows and you hear people singing along, and getting lyrics tattooed, and yeah, in terms of the process, writing music (but in particular lyrics) from a place  that's sincere makes the whole process much easier, and legitimate.


Worlds (2014) and Adventure (2015) both debuted #1 on the US Dance/Electronic charts. 'Shelter' was written and co-produced by Porter Robinson and Madeon, and animated by Japanese animating firm A-1 Pictures. The pair have a well-documented history of supporting each other's innovative styles. Watch the absolutely stunning video for 'Shelter' below.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzQ6gRAEoy0]

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