Nurture is the act of tending something frail into blossom; of patiently caring for something so it may grow. No wonder acclaimed producer/songwriter Porter Robinson turned to this word for the title of his second album. A joyous, brave explosion of electronic ideas, introspection and melody, Robinson’s Nurture took six long years of care amid crisis to flower into existence. Nursing it to life meant overcoming existential panic, creative drought, depression and family illness. “It really was an extensive period of just total emotional struggle,” says the North Carolina-based artist, who recounts “literally crying in the studio and in therapy sessions, thinking my life was over.” Nurture is made up of songs he found on the other side: catchy, adventurous, uplifting diaries of his own path back to happiness, each one imploring listeners suffering their own periods of hardship to hold on, to battle through. “I want this music to be helpful to those people,” says the 27-year-old, who evolves his musical style on Nurture, rewiring his epic electro-pop fantasias of old into something intimate, raw and for the first time, driven by the producer’s own vocals. It’s a remarkable sound – one that took a remarkable journey to get here.
It was supposed to be easy. That’s what Robinson had every reason to believe. In 2010, aged 18, he’d exploded onto the dance scene with frenetic, fist-pumping productions meant for electro-house basement raves. Four years later, in 2014, came his debut album. Worlds established him as one of the most restlessly creative new names in electronic pop: a visionary crafter of “gorgeous textures, contemplative storytelling and remarkably sharp melodies,” as the New York Times put it. This album transcended his boisterous beginnings, expanding his sound to incorporate giant, emotive hooks, video game textures and shimmery, cinematic synths. It was a critical and commercial smash, earning the star 1.3bn global streams, a spot on Billboard’s best dance albums of the decade list and eventually, the chance to create his own festival: Oakland, California’s Second Sky, a sell-out two-day event that launched in 2019.