Porter Robinson: The Libertarian Dubstep Guy

Porter Robinson: The Libertarian Dubstep Guy

See also:

*In Defense Of "Fratstep:" An Open Letter To James Blake

*Wait, Now Korn Invented Dubstep?!

It's fair to say that most political nerds don't know what dubstep is. But last month libertarian sites like The Daily Paul and Lew Rockwell got geeked up about Porter Robinson's track "The State."

The ominous dubstep number uses samples taken from economist Murray Rothbard's seminal For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto. "How f'n awesome is that!?" wrote someone on The Daily Paul, which is, you guessed it, inspired by everyone's favorite gadfly presidential candidate Ron Paul. "...This is just further proof that the concept of liberty is being spread and becoming engrained in our culture, most obviously in younger generations."

Maybe, maybe not!

In any case, Robinson is a 19-year-old whose interest in electronic music was fueled by his pre-teen fascination with the video game Dance Dance Revolution. He says he's not active politically, but stands by the political opinions expressed in the song.

He's still quite green -- his first gig was last year -- but had great success with his 2010 single, "Say My Name." Then a high school senior in North Carolina, he began jetting across the country for weekend gigs and remixing tracks like Lady Gaga's "The Edge of Glory." Now, alongside contemporaries like Zedd and Skrillex -- who released his hit Spitfire EP on his label OWSLA -- he's become one of the hottest names in electronic dance music.

Ahead of his show this Saturday, December 3 at The Music Box (which is already sold out) we asked him about his journey toward becoming a libertarian icon.

How did "The State" come about?

That song is interesting to me because I just wanted to see if I could do something that would fit into the dubstep world. Then I stumbled across this sample [Murray Rothbard's For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto, read by author Jeff Riggenbach].

I always had a lot of anarchists friends and I listened to their posts and engaged in that conversation. I sort of identify with that politically. I thought that was a natural marriage -- very aggressive dubstep and that sort of rhetoric. I even chopped up the sample. I took the part that I thought was the most compelling. The most compelling anti-statist argument, I always found, is that taxation is armed robbery because -- I'm getting really into it now-- taxation is essentially armed robbery because every government action is backed by the threat of force.


"The State," musically, isn't one of my favorites on the EP. If I were able to work on it more, I would have revisited it. It really was my first attempt at dubstep. I think I could do it better now. But, I have that sense of regret with almost all of my songs.

I'm proud of it all, but there are things that I know could be improved. I think that attitude is actually a very constructive one. It encourages me to make something that I'm going to be satisfied with in the moment.

"The State" kind of reminds me of a lot of very early '90s industrial stuff.

It's a very dark one. It even uses this key -- I don't know the name of it -- but it's a key that's used in a lot of Arabic music. It features the devil's interval, which is a musical concept that basically creates an evil, brooding tone.

Everything about that song was very, very dark. In retrospect, to me, it seems a little silly. Maybe that's not the attitude that I want to put out there, but when I was making it, I was in that moment. It felt really right. Who am I to deny that?


It's probably the only dubstep song I've seen that's been picked up by libertarian blogs.

I also found that hilarious. They totally recognized some of the silliness of it too. I was actually thrilled by that.

I feel like there's a certain demographic of people out there that thinks dubstep is hilarious and ridiculous and stupid. There are also people who have the best time mocking libertarians. Ron Paul is a punchline to them. Hopefully, they never stumble across that song because I would look like such an ass. But, whatever, there's always going to be critics.

I was pretty thrilled to see that people in that world found and enjoyed that song.


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