Manchester band Porij bring their rave-infused highs and delicate songwriting to Play It Again Sam.
Nothing about Porij is set in stone. The Manchester band surge from show to show, their creative energy moving from rave-infused highs through to delicate songwriting that finds them exposed and open. Patching together club tropes and indie pop elements, each song seems to exist in its own world, bound together by the gravitational pull of their mutual creativity. Lauded by NME and the Guardian, playlisted by 6Music, invited on tour by Metronomy, and set to demolish the festival season, Porij move with a chaotic but nonetheless defined sense of purpose.
“The start of the band was the most haphazard thing,”
Formed almost as a dare by four students at Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music, the origin of the band inaugurated a journey of evolution. “The start of the band was the most haphazard thing,” explains Eggy (vocals/keys). “I feel like that’s the literal essence of Porij. We do everything last minute – but it’s so beautiful, and amazing.”
Debut mixtape ‘Breakfast’ – released in 2020 on their own Oat Gang Records – was a triumph of independent energy. Setting Porij out as a fully contained universe, it moved from outrageously filthy queer bop ‘Dirty Love’ to a full throttle cover of Disclosure’s ‘White Noise’. If eclecticism is one of the band’s core tenets, then so is pop directness. “I think that’s all people want,” Eggy observes. “People just want to sing a melody. And I think I’m always drawn to that. Writing a pop song is one of the hardest things you can do. I think there’s such a beauty in making that.”
One of the band’s strengths is accepting the differences in each other’s voices. Guitarist Jacob Maguire thrives on producing electronic beats, while James Middleton (bass/keys) is entranced by club culture, absorbing the lingering impact of UKG and jungle. Drummer Nathan Carroll, meanwhile, was recruited for a 6Music Festival set – and never left. “Porij feels like a big creative melting pot, where you can put your hat in the ring and suggest an idea,” he says. “It’s a beautiful space to exist in.”
“It doesn’t feel defined by a single genre,” adds Jacob. “It’s about the music-making ethos, as opposed to lack of genre. If it sounds good, and it makes me want to dance, then that’s fine. Box ticked!”
Watch Porij’s latest music video for ‘Outlines’:
Follow up EP ‘Baby Face’ came at the end of 2021, accompanied by a viral cover of Radiohead’s ‘Everything In Its Right Place’ recorded at the BBC’s historic Maida Vale studios. Switching it up once more, Eggy moved to the forefront, using the music as a space to discuss queer identities, mental health, and other highly personal topics. “A lot happens in a year,” observes Eggy. “And I think when you’re in this industry a lot of things are heightened. You feel things very intensely.”
“Lyrically, I think it’s some of the most raw stuff I’ve ever written,” Eggy says of their new material. “I’m not really hiding behind anything. I think we’ve had a lot of experiences over the past year, which have been intense. And it’s really exciting, to find that voice.”
A self-contained cosmos of beautifully entrancing contradictions, Porij are already plotting future releases: a plethora of remixes, one off singles, EPs, and – when they’re finally ready – an album. Moving past the restrictions of lockdown, the band have toured non-stop, playing a packed out show at Europe’s key showcase event the Great Escape before linking with Metronomy on a massive nationwide tour. “I’ve actually found connecting with the audience a lot easier,” says Eggy. “I think this has really allowed me to come out of my shell and not be ashamed to be who I am.”
This live energy is filtering back into their recordings, with each performance suggesting something fresh. “A thing we’ve talked about is, how do you make dance music as a band?” James (bass) points out. “How do you make pop songs that reference club culture? We want to reference all of our favourite dance music genres in a way that works right and doesn’t seem shoehorned.”
At its core, though, Porij is a vivid pop experience – immediate, direct, and pulsating, they’re driven by an urge to connect. “What we think is pop is still pretty alternative,” laughs Eggy. “There is a real stigma around pop. But if something’s popular, it’s popular for a reason. It’s connecting with a bunch of people. And I don’t think you can dismiss that lightly.”
For their debut album, all bets are off. An upcoming UK tour climaxes with a night at London’s iconic Heaven nightclub, while studio sessions continue at a frenetic pace. Building up an arsenal of incredible, ground-breaking pop songs, Porij remain as they ever were – in a state of flux. “I have an idea of what the album is going to sound like at the moment, but equally, I don’t want to shut anything off,” Eggy observes. “With your debut album, you want it to be as pure a voice as possible…”
Distilling their myriad of influences down to a fine essence, Porij are slowly bringing their vision into focus. Pure, undimmed, and utterly fantastic, their rave-pop soliloquys are unlike anything else in British music today.
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