Dubstep superhero


IT’S A NAME you’d associate with a superhero. Meet Skrillex the dubstep avenger! By day, he’s Sonny Moore, a mild-mannered young man who still looks like the emo kid who fronted post-hardcore band From First To Last for a couple of years.

At night, Moore metamorphosises into Skrillex, a demented noise-maker taking super-sized, heartpounding bass music to arenas and clubs worldwide where the masses lap it up. All of this is achieved without our man having to sport a cape.

But even superheroes get a bad rep, as Bruce Wayne could tell Moore, if they were to meet at some class of networking event for caped crusaders. In the case of Moore, the slings and arrows come in the form of snobbery and begrudgery from dubstep purists who have have taken great umbrage at his emergence and sound. There’s also a distinct sense of disbelief among the outraged that some Yank emo kid has come along and taken the sound of the underground into the mainstream.

Go to the dubstep strongholds online and the chargesheets can be gathered pretty quickly. Skrillex’s music is too raw and uncouth to be called dubstep! He’s doing a disservice to the founding fathers! It wouldn’t have been played at (seminal London dubstep haunt) FWD>>, mate! He’s just playing for the jocks in the audience (hence the “brostep” moniker Skrillex has attracted)! There are even 656 people out there who’ve taken the time out of their busy days to express their approval for a Facebook page entitled “Skrillex is not dubstep”.

Moore is polite enough – and successful enough at this stage – not to be overly bothered by purists splitting feathers. His own bass odyssey began when, in 2007, he left From First To Last, heard Burial’s Archangeltrack and was hooked on the possibilities he heard. What he’s been doing since is making tracks which try to capture the sense of euphoria and intrigue he hears in his head. Since last year’s My Name is Skrillexand Scary Monstersand Nice Spritesreleases, Moore has barely had time to draw breath, with a rising profile and a busy calendar of shows to contend with.

“All I’m doing is making music here,” he says.

“The purists have their opinion about what I do and that’s OK. But I’ve also had mad support from the UK dubstep scene, people like Skream and Benga, people who started it all, and that’s pretty cool. But I didn’t set out to get anyone’s approval to begin with.”

That said, there’s also the point, which Moore makes, that his success has opened the doors for others, especially in the United States, a country where dubstep was an exotic sonic concoction for many years.

“You’ve had a lot of other records doing really well in the charts now after me. After I released Scary Monsters, you had people like Skream and Benga getting to sell more tickets than they’d ever done before. I’m not saying it’s all because of me, but you can see that bass music is taking off and that’s great for the pioneers who started this thing in the first place.”

He’s quick to dismiss those who diss his audience. “One thing which does annoy me is when you get purists judging my audience. Who are they to tell someone that they’re not cool enough to listen to dubstep or that they’re cooler because they were listening to it for years? Music is there for everyone, not just the chosen few.”

If Moore has become a whipping boy in one quarter, he’s a leader to many others. Since the Skrillex sound has come to the boil, you’re now finding more and more producers seeking to emulate his superfried, larger-than-life succession of squeaks and bleeps.

“I think people who are doing this stand out because there are still not many people doing what we are doing. There are lots of people making those everyday electrohouse tunes so people are more used to that and it’s hard to stand out. But when you’re doing something like this, you tend to stick out a little more.”

Moore has also benefited from a massive rise in interest Stateside about dance music as electronic music enjoys a very lucrative spell in the limelight. Playing to 85,000 people at gatherings like the Electric Daisy Carnival in the middle of the Nevada desert has become part and parcel of the Skrillex live experience.

“It really seems unstoppable at the moment,” says Moore. “People just seem to have really got into the idea of dancing and are coming together and being more unified. I know these festivals have been going on for years in Europe, but it’s kind of awesome to see them happen at home too. The more these festivals grow, the more everything just gets bigger.

“It means more avenues for people to find out about me and other people making electronic music. You don’t tend to hear my records or music I like a lot on radio, but we know from the audiences who come to the shows like Electric Daisy that they’re out there.

“I can see from the live shows I do that the audience are buzzed for what I’m doing. I just really hope more and more producers start making music and getting it out there and starting their own scenes.” The next step for Moore is a Skrillex album, which will get released in 2012.

To date, he says he has kept things deliberately tight on the recording and releasing front with little involvement from any label.

“There’s no one financing my records,” he says. “It’s all done on the laptop, it’s all my own shit because you can do a record on your own. Even though I’m signed to a label, I’ve still done everything independently.

“There’s no money put into the record, there’s no money put into any marketing, there’s been no money put into the videos.

“There has been money put into touring and that has paid off. Gigs happen because there’s a demand for you and your music and that leads to more gigs and bigger gigs and better gigs.”