The Dancing Introvert: We Talk to Aaron Maine of Porches
Images: A. P. Kim for ESSENTIAL HOMME.
Styling: Terry Lu.
Aaron Maine sits coiled on a couch, the bleached- blonde hair he sported on the cover of his third album as Porches, The House, now back to its natural brown. It’s a particularly cold day in New York, one that elicits the very kind of painting Maine’s lyrics draw.
“I think that I’ll stay inside / If you don’t think that they’d mind / I can’t let it find me,”
Maine sings on “Find Me,” his deep-throated crooning in perfect juxtaposition to the industrial- sounding electronica that solidifies The House’s first single as the new winter dance track. This contrast is, in fact, fitting of Maine himself—he is both quiet and commanding, dainty and rough, vulnerable and powerful. He is complex and honest, qualities that have made Porches such a successful and relatable project for Maine; often speaking bluntly about anxiety, depression, and solitude—issues he confronts when creating music. “The practice of writing and making work is like a therapy or a meditation to me, and that generates a lot of happiness, peace of mind, and self worth, so I think I rely on the physical practice of making work for the cathartic aspect,” he says, his red painted fingers gracefully playing with the chain-link bracelet hanging off his wrist. “It’s kind of like a journal entry that goes public, which is an interesting part of the process each time.”
We talk about how he feels about his personal thoughts becoming public data. “It still surprises me—it’s so personal up until it comes out.” This is the transaction of art, making what’s inside of you shareable. Maine is privy to this, and has become more wary of what he says. “After the initial vomiting of the ideas I kind of imagine, you know, does anyone need to hear this? Do I want anyone to even think about this? Sometimes it feels good. Sometimes it feels like a massive exploitation of my personal life. It’s a tricky line. When you get yourself in a position that doesn’t feel very good there are ways to do it that still feel honest but also respectful of yourself and the people around you.”
And while Maine describes The House as “a bit more personal and for myself than it has been in the past,” it also includes some noteworthy collaborations, such as Dev Hynes, Alex G (whom Maine toured with and was inspired by during the creation of his newest album. “I really admired the disparity on his records, genre-wise, sound-wise, and production quality-wise.”), and his father, Peter Maine, who is also a musician. “It just felt really good to have his voice on [the record]. It’s almost like the narrator popping in. It felt important.”
Maine first heard his dad’s song, “Understanding,” in Westchester, New York, where he grew up. Contrary to the resentment some people have towards the suburbs they grew up in, Maine still thinks of them fondly. “I really liked it,” he says. “I always liked silence and walking around.” We share a laugh over the irony that his love of silence has nestled him in the at-times deafening chaos of New York City, but I’m left with the impression that Maine can carry a sense of silence even in the busiest of environments. Home is important for him, I can tell that much, and when I ask him what the title, The House, means, he says, “The first thing I would think about when addressing my feelings was in relation to my house or my apartment. If I was far away I would think of when I was going to be there next. If I was home I would think about feeling stuck or feeling comfortable…I could look at my relationship to this steady thing and judge myself based on that. I like how The House leaves it up to the listener and even myself to decide. The relationship is always shifting.”
For someone as creative and as versatile as Maine (both his sound and his style have undergone various transformations throughout the years), the yearning for stability, silence, and home makes sense. He fiddles with the tops of his checkered Vans, eyes glazed with a daydream as he thinks about happiness. “I like to be working…even if I’m not creating good stuff. I just like doing it all of the time.” He pauses. “I like to have all of my relationships in a good place and feel like I’m being respectful and treating people well. I want to buy a house with my girlfriend; live in Scandinavia and dip into the cities when it’s time. Something like that I guess. I want to be a little isolated in a house. Quiet.” “Instead New York,” I joke. He smiles, “Instead New York.”