Aaron Maine joins Document to map the personal histories that inform his creative process

To venture through Porches’ discography is to step into a diaristic, synth-pop iteration of Aaron Maine’s life. The project was born a little over a decade ago, when Maine recorded the EP Summer of Ten. Maine’s first album as Porches, Slow Dance in the Cosmos, was a collaboration between the artist and his at-the-time partner and co-creator, Greta Kline of Frankie Cosmos. The 2013 record is a reflection of their infatuation with each other, filled with cheeky nicknames and starry-eyed sentiment.

With his critically acclaimed sophomore album Pool, Maine was pushed to the frontlines of the alternative music scene. It reimagined Porches, swapping a twangy guitar for heavy synth, electronic beats, and haunting harmonies from Kline. The House felt like a natural next chapter for Porches, though it was met with less love than Pool.

On March 13, 2020, Maine released his fourth studio album Ricky Music, which in large part details the emotional fallout from Maine’s breakup with Kaya Wilkins of Okay Kaya. The record was quickly lost in the throes of lockdown and fear of the pandemic, and remains tucked into the rest of his discography, waiting to be found.

At this point, like nearly every other person in the world, Maine was scared. In the early stages of COVID, it was unclear how or when things would return to normal. Maine wondered if he would ever be able to play live music again, realizing that touring felt essential to completing the cycle of an album release. “[Playing shows] was easy to take for granted,” Maine says. “It sort of felt like a pain in the ass sometimes, but I realized without being able to see a room full of people responding to it physically, that it felt really abstract. No matter what messages or press I got, it felt like, Am I doing anything really?

This sentiment got him thinking: “I was just imagining, if I’m allowed to go out and play shows, people show up, and my job is to make music, what will be the most exciting, celebratory songs to play?”

Aaron wears tank top stylist’s own. Trousers by Missoni. Bracelet (worn throughout) talent’s own.

From this headspace, Porches’ fifth studio album All Day Gentle Hold ! was born. The album is upbeat and punchy; it doesn’t waste a second, clocking in at just over 25 minutes. Maine recently wrapped up a tour across the US supporting Phoenix, where he was able to bring the album completely to life. At Radio City Music Hall in early September, Maine energetically threw his body around onstage, contagiously excited as the audience filtered in.

Maine is generally a homebody, spending much of his time in his corner of New York’s Chinatown, where he’s lived for around six years now. He hangs out at Seward Park, and especially loves wandering around the city and people-watching. When I ask about his interests beyond music, he takes a minute to consider, before replying, “Dude, like, not that many other things.” Tennis is one of his newer preferred pastimes, and the first hobby he’s had in awhile. He’s also been watching Desperate Housewives from the top, which he’s never seen before, and he just started reading Intimate Ties by Austrian novelist Robert Musil. But really, music is the center of his world. Maine spends most of spare time hanging out with his friends; he’s often spotted roaming around Dimes Square with Dev Hynes of Blood Orange, a friend and frequent collaborator.

Maine stubs out the last of his cigarette before we walk down Ludlow Street. Sitting across from him, some of his small, scattered tattoos catch the eye: a treble clef on his neck, a Libra symbol on his hand, a smiley face on the inside of his right forearm. Maine talks slowly, each word spoken with intentionality; he’s unafraid to silently gather his thoughts before speaking.

Shirt, coat, trousers, and boots by Louis Vuitton.

Despite his affinity for the Lower East Side, during lockdown Maine realized he missed touring; it functions as his only excuse to travel, he says. “[The pandemic] just put it into perspective; what a wild thing it is to get to do, to show up to a room and have people come out at all, and play music really loud,” he explains. “Performing is something I actually enjoy, I like putting on a show, and using my voice and sharing that experience can be really emotional.”

Growing up in Pleasantville, a small town in upstate New York, Maine spent most of his time skating, drawing, and listening to music: The Strokes, Velvet Underground, The Beatles, Weezer. “That music is so ingrained in my head that I think that’s where a large part of a sense of melody comes from—Julian Casablancas and Neil Young,” he says. “Not that I’m comparing myself—my brain was the softest then, absorbing music like that.”

Maine and some of his friends who shared similar musical tastes became obsessed with learning songs by artists like Radiohead and The Strokes, and ultimately formed a band. They’d jump around together in the garage performing covers, and were content to create stuff using Maine’s tape recorder. “It was a fertile place to grow up creatively,” he adds. 

He grew up in an “artistically-inclined” family; his father, singer-songwriter Peter Maine, often contributes vocals on Porches albums, and his mother used to be a dancer. Maine continues to surround himself with artistically-inclined people; he frequently collaborates with a number of artists, having worked with the likes of Hynes, Alex G, Mitski, and Coco and Clair Clair.

Left: Tank top stylist’s own. Trousers by Missoni. Belt by CELINE by Hedi Slimane. Right: Top by Brooks Brothers. Trousers by Missoni. Belt by CELINE by Hedi Slimane.

Historically, much of Maine’s music has been very personal, and often finds inspiration in the long-term relationships he gravitates toward. “I used to equate romantic tension or turmoil with being inspired or living an inspired life, and I don’t think that’s the case,” Maine says. “I think I’ve made the most realized and honest music when I feel supported in a relationship. All of that energy that you would spend on drama with someone else if something’s not going right or you’re arguing could be used for the drama in your art. I feel like I have more facilities to create and think, or come up with different ideas.”

With incredibly intimate looks into his headspace, his albums have been compared to musical diaries. I ask him whether he ever finds this scary or embarrassing.

“Oh yeah, definitely,” he responds. “But at the end of the day, this is what I do. If I didn’t feel like sharing, no one is asking me to. There’s a lot to gain from it, even if it is embarrassing at times.”

And plus, he reminds me, everyone is subject to growth and change. “If anyone read a page back in their diary they’d probably cringe; the fact that it’s public doesn’t mean that I haven’t also changed or have my own personal relationships and things that aren’t for everyone,” he says. “But I think that’s part of the interesting thing about being an artist; it’s vulnerable by nature.”

Fashion Assistant Noah Delfiner.

Tank top stylist’s own. Trousers by Missoni. Belt by CELINE by Hedi Slimane.