With his third album The House, Porches, a bottle-blond, cool AF New Yorker has another synth-pop gem under his belt, and it’s as good for a boogie as it is for late-night state-of-the-union musing. As is customary for interviews with Aaron Maine, the man behind the moniker, the dude is so laid back he might as well be lying down, but damn if he isn’t candid.
While all of his albums are to some degree autobiographical, Porches describes The House as his most linear record to date. Plus, it’s testament to what you can achieve when you slog at something daily. “I suppose my music has always been a documentation of my experiences, to a certain extent,” he explains.
I just kept going with it and recording and writing every day
“The House was about doing that, but taking it further. It wasn’t necessarily something I set out to do initially when I started recording, but I did find myself with a strong desire to write and record every day and set up a regimen. After I had recorded a handful of songs, it just felt – even more so than in the past – that it lent itself to the same idea I’ve always had with making music, which is being true to the experience. But it also felt like it was very much of that time. When I realised that, I didn’t change too much: I just kept going with it and recording and writing every day, ongoing with that process.”
Maine admits that this musical diarising also had the benefit of giving him an escape hatch from the grind of everyday life. It turns out the same shit plagues him as rest of us, and he recites a litany of the stuff he was dodging. “Having a job, spending money… I honestly feel like I neglected my relationship at the time [and all sorts] of responsibility: health insurance, taxes: anything that smelt like a responsibility,” he confesses.
I was still feeling hyper-productive making music – that’s always been the thing that generates most self worth
“I was still feeling hyper-productive making music – that’s always been the thing that generates most self worth, so I could just trick myself. There I was being productive, skirting a lot of other aspects of my life, but the combination of escaping and generating self worth when you’re feeling loneliness or depression… Well it’s a massive escape. You get to create something, and that’s when I’m happiest. It’s like a drug.”
It’s a good drug too apparently, because The House is peak Porches. Indeed, the record is so personal – so keenly felt – that it even features a collaboration with Maine’s old man on ‘Understanding’. As he runs through the song’s background, Maine’s love for his dad is palpable. “I grew up with my dad singing, writing songs and recording for as long as I can remember,” he explains.
“It was an inspiration, but it also meant that it felt from an early age like something I could do. The thought of writing songs or making original music was never crazy to me. It’s always interesting to me when I hear people saying, ‘How do you it? What’s the first thing you do when you write a song?’. I feel blessed to have grown up around it and that it was a natural thing.
“But as for the song, I went upstate last year to visit my dad and he has a little set-up in a room in his house: it’s a digital eight-track and he makes these whacked-out recordings with really dated equipment, and they’re so special. Imagine him up there in this old house, still at it, writing and recording like a teenager. The song originally had an entirely different arrangement with drums and bass and guitar and banjo and shit. I just remember the vocal take being so fragile and intimate. When I got back home I asked him to just send the vocal take solo and I wrote those chords underneath it, fucked with his voice, pitched it up an octave at times and brought it into the world the rest of the record was in.”
These days Maine is routinely featured in lists of artists embodying New York City’s DNA, having grown up a stone’s throw away. Part of the reason he’s so universally embraced then maybe boils down to the fact that he swears by moving to the Big Apple if you’re looking for artistic salvation.
“I grew up in a small town, and even though it wasn’t very far from the city, it was very detached, unless you went into the city – and I found myself not doing that so often. I had a good group of friends who I skated with and made music with and art with, but it was a very, very small bubble and I went to college only 20 minutes from where I grew up.
“For some reason, I was never really drawn to the city. I never really imagined that I’d move here. I was kind of content in my little space and comfortable. Getting out of my comfort zone and moving here was massive for me. It opened up my world and my eyes, and I was exposed to so many things I liked, so many people and so many exciting things that I was mind-blown. I feel like if I’d moved anywhere else I could have been making some completely different stuff. It felt good to absorb my surroundings and of all of the places in the world – my surroundings here are pretty fucking amazing.”
The House is out through Domino on Friday January 19.