Whether you’ve discovered Skrillex yet or not you will have heard his trademark fidgety, dubstep wobble. Whether it’s one of his own tracks or one of the many copycat sound-a-likes out there, the Skrillex sound is the sound du jour. Producer, re-mixer, DJ and all round digital native Sonny John Moore went from emo also-ran to 2012’s new wunderkid on the block.
But Skrillex’s overnight success has been a long time in the making. There were years spent playing in rock bands, DJing at underground parties, remixes and electro side projects. Then, in 2009, his tweaked dubstep electro began its spirited rampage across the internet. With the release of a free eponymous download EP on Myspace the electro aficionados lauded the arrival of a new laptop wizard. Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites followed in 2010 and before long the Skrillex wobble was spreading like a digital virus.
More Monsters and Sprites followed in 2011 and some high profile festival slots. But it was the release of his EP Bangarang in 2011 and 2012’s Make it Bun Dem that saw Skrillex truly smash the mainstream. From underground accolades to Grammy success Skrillex has brought a very modern kind of digital iconoclasm to the charts. No cows are considered sacred. There are no cliques of cool to dictate what projects he takes on. In the Skrillex universe collaboration with the Doors sits happily next to a Lady Gaga remix. Programming and production for metal heads KORN somehow compliments work with pop pixie Ellie Golding. You can see it in the way he dresses too. Part suburban metal kid, part skater with just a hint of the hooded mystery of the laptop monk it's an eclectic mix that’s true to his roots and to his futures.
Skrillex is typical of a new wave of artists who have chosen to bypass record labels, PR machines and radio friendly unit shifters in favour of a career on their own terms. And he’s masterminded it all from a laptop using the very same digital sharing tools that the labels claim has killed off the music industry. From T-shirts and old-school vinyl box sets to free mixes and artists on his own OWSLA label Skrillex’s digital tentacles spread deep into the web. It’s a new and radical philosophy that if you give something good away you’ll get something good back.
To those purist critics and the few still clinging to the bobbing wreckage of the music industry - take note. It’s time to remake and remodel. Artists like Skrillex are rewiring the music machine and throwing us all headlong into a bright new post-digital future. And the future isn’t such a bad place to be going now is it?