From the melody to the vocals, Porches third album The House is a well-articulated, synth-backed journey through the immediate lens of the New York artist.
On a rainy February night in Toronto, the usually bustling Queen Street West is tame and quiet. From the bleach-blonde hair and two gold hoops on each side of his face to the cigarette between his index and middle fingers, Aaron Maine, who uses Porches as his performance alias, his aloof approach and retro-inspired aesthetic show that his downcast nature goes far beyond his music to the roots of a person.
“I just want listeners to be blissed out in their headphones.”
Maine takes a final inhale from his cigarette, discards it and heads back inside the Horseshoe Tavern, an intimate bar and venue famed for its history of housing some of the most unpretentious local and touring musical acts since it opened in 1947 – and Maine perfectly fits the bill. Inside, his touring band is preparing for sound check on stage, where in three hours Maine is set to perform.
“My favourite part in the timeline is when you start something new,” Maine says looking to the stage directly in front. “It’s exciting to have that freedom to make something entirely new and how you want to.”
Immediately after the completion of his 2016 album Pool and the grueling four month tour schedule that followed, Maine jumped right into an 18-month long process of writing and recording The House. It was a long period of experimentation, growth and evolution – both as a musician and a person.
“It’s frustrating sometimes because while it’s fun to experiment, I think a lot of my process is throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks,” Maine recalls. “It’s obviously very fun when it sticks but frustrating when it doesn’t.”
Sonically, Maine’s evolution as an artist is apparent on the 14-track album The House, which released in January. For Maine, who started his early career of with traditional acoustic roots, this is simply the continuation of a long process, now incorporating more synthesizers and production than ever before. His first full-length album, 2013’s Slow Dance in the Cosmos, was a meandering offering of alt-rock centred around guitar and drums.
Through his continued experimentation, Maine began to see his new ideas, techniques and sounds circle back, and soon everything slowly began to come into focus a bit more. “I’m at the mercy of my tastes changing, so the only thing I’ve tried to do was make something that I would hopefully listen to,” Maine continues “I just go with it.”
After initially gaining a buzz throughout the New York area, Porches has steadily carved out a widespread following. Toronto was just the fourth stop on his own North American headline tour that will take to each coast, hitting a grand total of twenty cities in the span of a couple of months.
Production aside, however, and the most intriguing aspect that may set Maine apart from the seemingly endless pool of melodic indie-electronica singers is his effortless songwriting and lyrical content. This is enhanced further with his powerful natural singing voice, apparent on tracks such as the guitar-led “Ono” and one of the album’s lead singles “Country.”
“I don’t think I’m ever looking for a certain type of inspiration, it’s always just kind of whatever happens to be going on in my life and around it, that I find and can turn into music,” Maine admits. “I think over the course of that time, some big events happened out of my control, that I couldn’t have planned.”
Approaching the album almost in a way someone documents their experiences in a diary, Maine portrays the world around him in a beautifully telling manner. “I guess day to day, it just seemed smart to write and record. I didn’t set out to do a condensed kind of process or anything like that,” he says.
“Find Me” perfectly showcases this intertwining of the multiple sides of Maine as an artist. With lyrical content that was written surrounding Maine’s own regular struggles with anxiety, isolation and loneliness, the song itself doesn’t necessarily evoke a mood or feeling that corresponds. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. “I think that song specifically, that beat and the bassline especially kind of evoke some sort of urgency,” he says. “That sort of frantic heart beating, kind of lonely.
“I guess I’ve always been interested in the play between the lyrical content and the melodic content, and juxtaposing the two,” Maine adds. “I’d like to think my core is not me trying to be something I’m not because it always feels as close to me.
“I just want listeners to be blissed out in their headphones,” Maine concedes. “You know there are those songs that you get so obsessed with and it feels so satisfying to be in that person’s world for a moment.” Overflowing with emotion, Maine will really make you feel it all.
Words by Braeden Alexander.