Get to Know the Worlds of Porter Robinson’s Virtual Self
Virtual Self is the dance-heavy side project by American DJ and producer, Porter Robinson. The project was inspired by late 90’s and early 2000’s dance music. In 2015, Robinson began working on Virtual Self, but it was not until 2017 when the Virtual Self EP was released. In 2018, an edit of Ghost Voices called Angel Voices was released as a single. Virtual Self is two characters, Technic-Angel and Pathslector.
The Virtual Self project is very different from Robinson’s earlier works, and it was made that way intentionally. At Virtual Self live shows, Robinson refrains from playing any Porter Robinson songs, and at Porter Robinson DJ sets, there are no Virtual Self songs—they are their own entities entirely. If you’re familiar at all with previous works by Robinson and then you listen to his new songs as Virtual Self, there is little resemblance. This difference threw a lot of fans off at first listen because they were expecting to hear something like Worlds, Robinson’s 2014 release. Instead of continuing with that particular sound he spent so long cultivating, experimentation and personal growth as an artist was the path he decided to take. The Virtual Self music had to be released under a different name, so listeners wouldn’t associate Robinson with the music. Virtual Self had been in the works since 2014 after Worlds was released, but time had to pass before it could be sent out into the world. It wasn’t just the music which needed time to ripen, but it was the entire concept. That also explains why the characters of Pathselector and Technic-Angel were created, as well as the rule in which no songs of either party will be played at strictly Porter Robinson or Virtual Self shows. Robinson is the machine behind the tunes, but the story is not his during the performance.
Porter Robinson beginning the new-hardstyle renaissance of electronic music in 2017? Who would have expected that? But dance music is not immune to the circular theory of life. It’s an ever-evolving genre. It has picked up immense popularity since the early 2010s and has made its way to the forefront of popular music. Artists like Robinson seek something more from their musical ventures and instead of trying to produce chart-topping hits every month. Virtual Self was meant to take a nostalgia-hit with its sound. Instead of sounding like something that was just produced, Robinson took inspiration from rhythm games, Japanese techno, and early trance tracks in order to create Virtual Self’s rave sensation.
Despite not having many songs, Virtual Self was taken on tour as soon as the OG EP was released and has received quite positive feedback. It is hard to say when new Virtual Self music will be out, as the music already released took so long to see the light of day and if Porter Robinson’s personal brand is any indicator of how long it’ll take to get new music, I wouldn’t expect anything too soon. Worlds was released in 2014, but he went on so many tours since then, any of his personal shows were either Worlds Live or a Porter Robinson DJ set. That is, until 2018 when he put his foot down and said there would be no more Worlds Live shows. I appreciate the hard work and personal touch Robinson puts into his work. The Virtual Self project is particularly interesting and honestly new things could be in the making as we speak, just on the down low. But until the day we see (or rather, hear) new Virtual Self tunes, sit back and appreciate the artistic creativity put into such a unique project.