The secret sky of Porter Robinson’s connectivity to Japanese culture –


It’s been six magical years since Porter Robinson‘s Worlds The album debuted in August 2014. Since then, Robinson’s unique sound, inspired by electro house and synth-pop, has captivated millions of fans around the world, especially in Japan.

In May 2020, Robinson’s “Secret Sky” virtual music festival aired to four million fans around the world, all bursting with excitement for their first virtual set. Robinson himself is a huge fan of anime and has always been in love with Japanese culture, constantly incorporating some sort of related symbol into his songs, visuals, album covers, and live performances. His love for Japanese culture originated from Nintendo and Pokémon, but he also grew up watching anime and listening to Japanese music. His respect and admiration for the culture directly reflects his own craftsmanship, leading him to compose pieces that immensely strengthen his fan base in Japan.

Robinson’s appreciation and love for Japanese culture was and still is manifested through his virtual performance of “Secret Sky”. His one-of-a-kind set brought Japanese music fans closer to not only Robinson and his music, but the EDM community as a whole.

Screenshot of Robinson’s “Shelter” music video premiere in Tokyo.

Every visual component throughout Robinson’s performance glowed with anime influences, while also being accompanied by Japanese lyrics that Robinson constructed to suit his performance. Projected anime images flashed on the wall behind Robinson, synchronizing in perfect harmony with his hit song “Sad Machine”. Suddenly fans caught a glimpse of the aesthetic that appeared on the popular anime show. Chobits, a Japanese television show that has been around for over fifteen years. Visuals for the anime are associated with Robinson’s remix of “Let Me Be with You”, a single by the group J-Pop Tower Table.

This is where Robinson really started to explore and experience Japanese culture within his sound. Instantly, the comments section exploded with users writing in Japanese. The entire song goes superbly with Robinson’s set. The translation of his words expresses the desire to be so bad with someone but to be suffocated due to external circumstances beyond his control. The entirety of Robinson’s ensemble that unfolded thereafter really embodied that feeling of love as well as that of trying to find each other after going through some rough times. Round Table’s song fits perfectly in this sense.

Robinson then referred to a familiar beat like his seminal collaboration with the French DJ Made on, “Shelter,” began to buzz across the screens of delighted viewers around the world. “Shelter” has a literal anime music video, of course, that was thrown behind Robinson.

Screenshot of Porter Robinson and Madeon's

Screenshot of Porter Robinson and Madeon’s “Shelter” clip.

Right after performing “Shelter”, an upbeat and colorful melody prevailed as a singer began to hum in a Japanese acapella style. Robinson joined the singer in unison, performing the song “Hikari” by Pasocom Music club, a Japanese electronic music group. Robinson seems to know all the lyrics, proving he’s a fan of their work and a staunch supporter considering the addition to such an important performance. He also released another J-Pop track in Kero Kero Bonito‘s “Trampoline”. Although the song’s lyric content is in English, it derives its sound from the popular sounds of contemporary J-Pop.

Throughout the remainder of the performance, cartoons and Japanese cultural symbols dazzled the screen behind Robinson in a bold showcase of his appreciation for Japanese culture.

As Robinson flaunted his creative power through his visuals and mixing prowess, the comment section of the stream was full of rhapsody from passionate fans, who noted the different styles of music as well as how much Robinson’s music really meant to them. . Most of the notes were in English, but there was also a flood of commentary in Japanese.

Each translated comment seemed to delve deeper into the connectivity Robinson and his music had with Japan. “I always feel like I’m listening to Porter’s music. The melody is nice and fine, and it’s a bit painful … Do you like anime? Thank you for your interest in Japan!” a Japanese fan wrote. “Thank you for giving the best live performance when it is hard to come out. I was so happy, sad and cried. Thank you for your love of anime and video games,” wrote another.

Porter Robinson screenshot "Secret sky" direct.

Screenshot from Porter Robinson’s “Secret Sky” livestream.

The dichotomy between Robinson and Japanese culture has also transcended the feed itself, actualizing itself in external areas such as Twitter. “It makes me so happy when @porterrobinson uses Japanese tracks in his performance Secret Sky – it reminds me of growing up in Japan,” one Twitter user exulted. “Ugh @porterrobinson incorporating Japanese songs into his set is such a whole and beautiful vibe for Japanese culture,” wrote another.

These feelings, however, represent more than just Japanese fans commenting on Robinson’s performance. They represent the connectedness his fans feel when they watch him play because he expresses their culture in a respectable and grateful way. With a myriad of fans thanking Robinson for his incorporation of Japanese artists, he bridged the gap between the American and Japanese EDM scenes.



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