Life & Culture

Porches: the New York Singer You Need to Know

Creating clothes as well as intoxicating music, synth-pop star Aaron Maine aka Porches is taking the New York underground by storm

  • TextEmma Madden

Aaron Maine aka Porches is making waves on New York’s underground music scene, creating exceptional synths from the solace of his bedroom. Since his debut LP Slow Dance In The Cosmos, the musician has been rising to notoriety and last year, was named Best New Music by Pitchfork.

When we speak to him, it’s been a week since the release of Find Me, the second single from his upcoming album (and his third as Porches), The House. Originally from Pleasantville in Westchester County, New York, Porches now resides in Chinatown – which is where he is when we call. Speaking over the phone, he sounds warm, kind and perhaps slightly stoned...

“I don’t like it when people call my music dance music,” he says, “but I guess it is and it totally makes sense.” While some dance music is improvised – a DJ at a club responding to his surroundings – Porches crafts his in the quiet of his own company, which he admits is strange. “It’s funny to make stuff in my room very calmly. I make my music in a very different setting to the one it might be listened to in.” Reflecting this process, the music video for Find Me sees Porches wrapped up in the womb-like embrace of his bed, while the repetitive beats of the song chastise him to get up.

Despite making a name for himself in the world of music, Maine is a very aesthetic person too and has loved fashion, he says, for as long as he can remember. “I just made clothes that I’d want to wear, like cut-up t-shirts,” he recalls, before admitting that he doesn’t know anything “about designers of the industry”. “Even when I was a kid, I would be really picky about the fabric [of the clothes I’d wear], and I’d go back-to-school shopping with my mum… I’ve always had a thing for the way things look I guess, and the texture of it physically.” He’s designed a range of tasseled merchandise called ‘Dark Muscle’ and is currently working on a new collection with Hood By Air-associated Philip Wong which he describes, quite vaguely, as “fallish”. But while Maine designs the clothes, it’s his alter-ego Ronald Paris who wears them.

Dressed in the best items in his wardrobe, Ronald is the one tugging at Maine’s arm, while Maine himself is the one who prefers staying in. Ronald is one of Maine’s many alter-egos actually and while he, Ronnie Mystery and the rest don’t manifest fully in his music and are more psychological than visual, they exist to help Maine make sense of himself and his internal contradictions. It’s clear that he finds it difficult to talk about these characters, though – after a pause and a bit of umming and erring, he says, “I guess there are different chapters of your life where you have to act differently in certain situations... and I think sometimes there are patterns in your life that feel like very specifically one way in a situation and there are just all these versions and extreme instances of yourself. So maybe it’s just a kind of way to give myself nicknames in different scenarios.”

For Maine, approaching life – particularly life in New York – requires nicknames and alter-egos like Ronald; they’re like a coping mechanism. “I think it’s kind of fun to imagine yourself as an exaggerated version of yourself. Like, on a certain night you’ll go out and feel beautiful and social and exciting, and on another night, you’ll feel like a pile of shit... I think that by maybe acknowledging that you were this version of yourself, you just kind of acknowledge that you change, or can go two ways.”  

That, in a way, is what Porches’ music is all about – stepping outside of whatever moment you are in. You’ll never get singular vision from Aaron Maine; he doesn’t fit neatly into one genre; he doesn’t fit into the world of fashion, or world of New York. “I just try and take the bits of everything I like and do it in my own way.” Perhaps his mind weighs him down when he tries to dance, but it’s a sacrifice he’s making for other people – like the kids that surround him in the music video for Find Me, people dance to his music in real life while he stays relatively still. After all, he says, “I wanna be in tune with myself and I think it’s exciting to share these thoughts and the more in tune you are without yourself and your emotions and your surroundings, the more rewarding it is for someone to listen to it.”

The House is out on Domino on January 19, 2018.