Though barely into his twenties, electronic artist Porter Robinson made a rapid ascent to stardom in the front half of the 2010s, collaborating across multiple EDM and pop genres and cementing his status as one of the decades most prominent American DJs. The North Carolinian was already a top-shelf international headliner by the time Astralwerks released his 2014 full-length debut, Worlds, after which he continued to branch out, earning a Grammy nomination for "Ghost Voices," a song he released under his alias, Virtual Self. He has curated his own festival and founded a charity benefitting cancer patients in the African nation of Malawi. After a six-year gap, Robinson returned with his second full-length album in 2020.
Born in 1992 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Robinson began producing music at the young age of 13. Influenced by the sound of video games such as Dance Dance Revolution, he began to emulate these soundtracks by using Sony ACID Pro; his first production alias was Ekowraith. Learning and creating beats throughout his teens, his first single, "Say My Name," was released in 2010 (under his actual name). Success for Robinson quickly followed as he signed a one-EP deal with Skrillex's OWSLA label. He released Spitfire for the label in 2011. The level of demand crashed the server of a prominent online retailer. This period also saw him carry out prestigious remixes for high-profile artists such as Avicii and Lady Gaga.
The following two years would mark the start of Robinson's ascendancy, with more hit singles ("Language" in 2012 being a standout dancefloor smash that year) alongside the development of a fruitful relationship with fellow DJ Mat Zo. The pair released "Easy" in 2013, backed with some heavyweight remixes from Andy C, Botnek, and Lemaitre. Alongside producing, Robinson gained a steady reputation as a prolific live artist and DJ. Touring extensively across North America and Europe in 2012 and 2013, he rapidly gained a huge fan base and was soon regarded as a headliner in his own right alongside the likes of Skrillex, Tiësto, and Deadmau5. Worlds, his debut album, was released on Astralwerks in 2014 with contributions from the likes of Amy Millan (Broken Social Scene, Stars), Breanne Düren (Owl City), and Urban Cone. Although hard-hitting four-four beats remained part of Robinson's arsenal, it reflected the producer's desire to make more emotive and atmospheric material applicable for home listening, like that of M83 and Passion Pit. Worlds debuted at number 18 on the Billboard 200 and at number one on the publication's Top Electronic Albums chart. Astralwerks released a remixed version of Worlds the following year that featured Odesza, San Holo, and many others. Robinson landed another hit with the Madeon collaboration, "Shelter," and following its 2016 release, the two artists built a co-headlining North American tour around it. Both the single and Shelter Live Tour received nomination at the inaugural Electronic Music Awards early the following year.
Near the end of 2017, Robinson debuted a brand new project called Virtual Self. A succession of singles, inluding "Ghost Voices," appeared in advance of a self-titled EP with the project's live debut occurring that December. Proving to be nearly as popular as his solo work, Robinson toured as Virtual Self throughout 2018 hitting major festivals like Bonnaroo and Ultra Music Festival and earning a Best Dance Recording nomination for "Ghost Voices" at the 2019 Grammy Awards. He kept up his typically busy schedule for the remainder of the year, launching his own curated festival called Second Skye Music Festival in Oakland and tour both as Virtual Self and under his own name. In the front half of 2020, Robinson released "Get Your Wish" and "Something Comforting" as the first two singles from his forthcoming sophomore solo album, Nurture.