Destruction, explosions, carnage, and robots…these are just some of the images that are conjured up when listening to any Skrillex track. Whether you want to call it dubstep, brostep, glitch, or simply noise, his indefinable genre of music can only be labeled as Skrillex. Fresh off Zen Arts’ recent performance with Skrillex at LA Live on Sat Jan 29th, we take a deeper look at this popular musical innovator.
Born Sonny Moore on January 15th 1988, Moore has had a fascination with music since a very young age. Influenced heavily by electronic groups such as Prodigy and Aphex Twin, Moore has been mixing and experimenting with music since he was 14 years old.
In 2004 Moore became the lead singer of hardcore rock band From First to Last, eventually recording two albums with the band. After three years of touring at several high-profile venues and festivals such as the Vans Warped Tour, Moore left the group to start a solo career, releasing several lesser-known tracks under his own name.
It was not until 2008 when Moore, an LA native, began producing and performing at various LA clubs and venues under the name Skrillex. He released his first EP My Name is Skrillex for free on his Myspace page on June 7, 2010, resulting in record-breaking downloads. After touring with mega dj Deadmau5 in 2010, Skrillex signed on with Deadmau5’s record label Mau5trap to release his second EP Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites. The album was an instant success with the title track hitting #1 on Beatport, becoming the first ever dubstep track to do that on the electronic dance music site.
In 2011 Skrillex started the year off with his Project Blue Book Tour, touring the country with other notable up and coming djs like Porter Robinson, and unveiling new tracks such as First of the Year (Equinox), one of Skrillex’s most popular tracks to date from his third EP More Monsters and Sprites. A popular music video for the track was also created featuring a child molester getting his ass kicked by a little girl with telekinetic abilities.
Throughout 2011 Skrillex’s popularity continued to rise with notable events such as his April 2011 Coachella performance with Korn, remixes of artists such as Black Eyed Peas and Lady Gaga, and being named MTV’s EDM (electronic dance music) artist of the year. Skrillex finished out the year with the release of his fourth album Bangarang on his own label OWSLA as well as five Grammy nominations including Best New Artist, Best Dance Recording (Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites), Best Dance/Electronic Album (Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites), and Best Remixed Recording (Benny Benassi – Cinema (Skrillex Remix)). Be sure to tune in to the 54th Grammy Awards on February 12th to see which awards Skrillex will take home.
Although often seen as the leader in bringing the EDM genre of dubstep to mainstream popularity, many hardcore purists debate whether Skrillex’s concoctions constitute as real dubstep. Skrillex himself doesn’t like to define his music as a specific genre, self-proclaiming it as “a mix of dubstep, electro, and glitch all thrown together.”
Conceived in the UK, traditional dubstep is the cousin of drum n bass, featuring a wobbly and reverberant bass, looped samples, rewinds, sudden drops, and a 2-step beat pattern. The genre began gaining popularity in the early 00s, spreading from the UK throughout Europe as well as overseas to America. Skrillex’s music has been said to be a more rough, aggressive, and sped-up version of dubstep often called brostep or Americanized dubstep. Rough, scratchy, and robotic, this subgenre is recognized as the heavy metal equivalent of the EDM scene. While still harboring much of the same characteristics of dubstep (e.g. wobbly bass), brostep accentuates the middle register and puts emphasis on distorted sub-bass.
Around since the 80s, electro is an EDM genre that is very drum machine heavy, with large synthesizer elements as well as distorted voice (usually with a vocoder). Glitch came about in the mid 90s and focused on beats made up of what’s typically unwanted musical sounds, such as digital and analog distortions, feedback, scratches, cuts, and clicks.
Somehow Skrillex has managed to combine elements of all these genres to create a brand new musical experience. And somehow…it works! Some call it static…others call it art! No matter what you like to call it, it’s not going away anytime soon. Skrillex shows sell out faster than his beats, making him one of the most sought after dj acts of our time.