Once an obscure corner of English electronic music, dubstep will likely become a mainstream American sound in a matter of months — look no further than dubstep champ Rusko talking production with Britney Spears for definitive evidence that the genre’s days in the underground are over for good. Enter 22-year-old Los Angeles producer Sonny Moore, aka Skrillex, a formidable newcomer who has risen so rapidly to fame that if Hot Topic suddenly becomes interested in dubstep, he unfortunately might be the first man they call.
“I think everywhere will [play dubstep], to some degree,” Moore tells Boulder Weekly. “It always happens with any subgenre there ever is that has a bubbling. It always comes to the surface. Think about anything — black metal, in one way or another, did. Electro house is already in pop songs, and it’s going to happen with every genre in some way or another.
“It may not be Skrillex, but somebody’s gonna to do it in a way that it carries over to the mainstream,” Moore says.
And somebody surely will. The day before Bassnectar’s Lorin Ashton nearly overflowed the 1st Bank Center with grimy, once-obscure bass music and fans who love it, Moore’s brand of electronic dance music (EDM) went volcanic with the debut of his second EP, Scary Monsters & Nice Sprites, released exclusively on Beatport through Big Beat Records and electro king Deadmau5’s label, Mau5trap Recordings. After the release, Skrillex held an astounding eight of Beatport’s top 10 slots, the title track taking No. 1 (the first dubstep track ever to do so) and others claiming top spots on several of the site’s subgenre charts, such as dubstep, electro house and progressive house.
And so it happened that Skrillex became a softball for those taking swings at the commercialization of dubstep. The former frontman of hardcore band From First To Last, Moore has put up with plenty of distracting talk from what he has long considered his only project. Though dubstep is widely considered to be EDM’s version of hardcore, Skrillex wouldn’t be where it is if Moore wasn’t quick to master several styles of EDM. Genre-crossing had nothing to do with it, either: Hardcore alumni like Steve Aoki and The Bloody Beetroots have only benefited from fusing hardcore with electronic possibilities.
“I’m not consciously or subconsciously trying to put hardcore into electronic music,” Moore says. “It’s always been about doing things I really love.”
Skrillex’s list of remixes, which are heavy on Interscope artists such as Lady Gaga, LaRoux and the Black Eyed Peas, might have something to do with accusations of selling out. But it could also be general disbelief that Moore is even capable of doing anything but hardcore, especially at such a quick pace.
“You know what’s a fun rumor that’s going around right now … is that I have ghost producers,” Moore says. “I heard some people, first it was like Skizm is doing all my production, then Paranoize, then it was Excision and Datsik — they came out and squashed those rumors publicly. I just thought it was funny, I was reading something the other day that was like, ‘Yeah, the music’s cool, but Sonny is a douchebag and fuckin’ has ghost producers.’”
However, it’s easy to hear that Moore’s hardcore past (and almost a decade of production experience) has contributed to a fresh take on EDM that is infectious enough to sell out the Fox weeks in advance. Skrillex’s genre-blending sound maintains through slow and fast tempos while epileptic chopups send bass breakdowns exploding through the room like electro-pop shrapnel. Tied together by trance sensibilities, teen sleepover-sing-along vocal hooks, airtight sound production, and fantastic melodies, Moore succeeds in bringing almost every popular electronic style together into what might as well be called skrillectrostep.
In “Kill Everybody,” digitized pixie vocals that sing about eating your heart are backed against menacing Transformer sex noises, and the total package is a high-volume, heart-throbbing dance party. Together, you have a near-perfect mixture of light and dark, catchy and trashy, good and evil.
“I’ve been very melody-driven and very into sound design as well, so I just put the two of them together,” Moore says. “I grew up playing guitar and writing songs and chord progressions; it was very natural to do stuff like that. I was just drawn to the half-time tempo (of dubstep).”
Skrillex will stop at the Fox Theatre on Dec. 16 before picking up tour dates with Deadmau5 in late December. Tickets are already sold out, but anyone within a block will hear that the battle between monsters and sprites will be long and very, very loud.
On the Bill
Skrillex plays the Fox Theatre on Thursday, Dec. 16. Doors at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are sold out. 1135 13th St., Boulder, 303-443-3399.