Porter Robinson on His New Song For Riot Games’ ‘Star Guardian’: ‘I Put a Lot of Effort Into Making It Something I Want To F–king Belt Out’

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·6 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

If there’s one thing we know about Porter Robinson, it’s that he’s incredibly meticulous — both in his search for canonical completeness and musical meaning. “I’m so extremely reluctant to tie myself to something that I don’t have full passion and love and enthusiasm for,” he says.

So when he approached Riot Games — yes, he approached them — about contributing a song to the League of Legends universe, you know he meant it with every ounce of his being.

More from Billboard

“I’d spent so much time in their world over the last couple of years, and I’ve just really, really valued it,” he says. “I know all the memes and inside jokes; you know how those things have a way of creeping into the way you relate to others? I think one cool way that I can contribute to this world is trying to make the sort of thing I would want to see as a fan of these characters.”

Enter “Everything Goes On,” the Nurture artist’s latest heartfelt sing-along, released today (July 14) as the official theme for League of Legend’s new Star Guardian storyline. It captures all the beauty, power and sadness that comes with sacrificing your life as a teenage girl to protect the world; and it does it all without sacrificing any part of its Porter Robinson-ness. The track arrives as part of a Star Guardian event that also features new skins for the game and launches today, extending through August 29. You can hear Robinson’s event anthem, elements of which appear inside the game as part of of the Star Guardian orchestral theme, below. 

“If Riot had heard the song and they were like, ‘Yeah, we don’t rock with this at all,’ I would still want to put it out,” Robinson says, chatting with Billboard via Google Hangout. “Of course, it was never like that. They were so enthusiastic and supportive, and also gave me really useful feedback the whole time that I implemented. It felt like every suggestion really served the song.”

LoL is one of Riot’s most popular platforms. About 125 million users play the 5v5 multiplayer online battle arena game each month — a group among whom Robinson and his fiancé, Rica, can be counted. The musician’s obsession started in the early days of quarantine, as a means to stay in touch with friends around the world. Then, the couple watched Riot’s animated series Arcane, loosely based on the LoL universe, and Robinson knew he had to be a part of this scene.

“It’s one of the best animated series I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” he says. “”It was visually so beautiful, and put together with so much care. I wasn’t sure how good it was going to be, frankly — and then I watched it and I cried.”

Star Guardian is one of LoL’s alternate universes, with its own playable characters modeled after magical girl anime tropes. (If you’ve ever seen Sailor Moon or Cardcaptor Sakura, you get the gist.) The Star Guardians are pretty warriors who balance life in school during the day with saving the world by night. The story comes to life in web novellas and short animations, but mostly, the Guardians can be downloaded as playable skins in regular League gameplay.

It was Riot’s idea to have Robinson work on the new launch theme, to be paired with a two-and-a-half minute animation that sets up the latest narrative. He was intrigued, for sure, but first he had to make sure everyone was on the same page.

N​urture is so different from something like Worlds, my previous album, and that was so different to what I was doing back in the early EDM days,” he says. “I asked, ‘So, if we have attribute points — like in a video game where you can put three points in strength, one point in constitution, two in dexterity and so on — for this song, if you guys have six attribution points to assign, how cute do you would want the song to be, how epic do you want it to be, and how emotional?’ They were like, ‘Oh, we want three points in emotional, two points in epic and one point in cute.’ And I was like, ‘OK, cool. That sounds like exactly the ratio that was in my imagination.'”

From there, he rolled up his sleeves and got to work on a song that would both complement the animation and Star Guardian characters, but also reflect his own personal journey.

In the end, “Everything Goes On” is a portrait of two lives. It tells of the pain a Star Guardian must swallow in taking an oath to protect the world while saying goodbye to those they love, but it also mirrors Robinson’s struggle to love and appreciate every moment with an ailing loved one, all while knowing in his heart that grief is with him and waiting on the other side.

“The first verse goes — and I’ve always imagined this from inside a hospital room — ‘You were staring at the window and I said, “I want to take you to the sea. When I’m better, we’ll do everything,”‘ and then sort of in parentheses, ‘I’ve got to stop making promises I can’t keep,'” he says. 

“I love that line, because sometimes in life, people will say things to try to make you feel better, and it makes things worse and just kind of amplifies the pain,” he continues. “I wanted to write a lyric super laser-focused on the fact that there’s really no way of squirming your way out of pain.”

There’s another line in the pre-chorus that goes, “Don’t try to make yourself remember. Don’t look for me. I’m just a story you’ve been told,” implying that the protagonist of the story would be better off forgotten. It fits with the bittersweet drama of the narrative, but it didn’t sit right with Robinson to end the song on that note, so he racked his brain for some deeper, more satisfying meaning.

In the end, the pre-chorus flips, putting the past version in quotations to say, “I told you to forget me, but you stayed by my side when I said, ‘Don’t try to make yourself remember. Don’t look for me. I’m just a story you’ve been told.'”

“It took me months to find the sentiment I felt I could really hang my hat on to say, like, ‘Now it’s a song,'” he says. “I put a lot of effort and care into making it something that I want to f–king belt out on stage with my entire chest… I’m just so happy that I cracked it, because it’s not easy and never is for me. I think if it was easy, it could mean I didn’t put everything into it that I could.”

Click here to read the full article.