An interview with Skrillex
As the huge row over Skrillex supposedly "ruining" dubstep erupted on both sides of the Atlantic, I interviewed him for my Red Bull blog and found him to be rather endearing and generally very sweet. Here, he talks about why he's not a dubstep artist.
See the original post here.
As the biggest – and busiest – star in electronic music since Deadmau5, who, incidentally, signed an early Skrillex tune to his label last year and thus launched him into the sonic stratosphere, it’s amazing that electro-house mash-up merchant Skrillex finds time to even Tweet.
But this week, the 23-year-old Los Angeles-based producer set Owsla, his new imprint, bounding off into the open, with two cryptic (and oddly freaky) virals signaling its arrival (make up your own mind). He tells us who’s up first for release – and what he really thinks about dubstep’s explosion in America.
What was your first encounter with dubstep music? In 2007, a friend of mine from Orange Country was like: ‘There’s this new night out in LA, you gotta check it out: it’s dubstep.’ It was called Smog – the label that brought dubstep to the US and to North America, run by 12th Planet, who was previously Infiltrator, a drum ’n’ bass artist from LA. It was the first dubstep party in the West Coast. That was the first time I heard dubstep, and after that I remember going to a record shop and asking for ‘a dubstep CD’ and being pointed over to Burial’s Archangel. That was my first album. Would you call your music "dubstep"? It’s to get the point across than anything else. I don’t readily associate or disassociate with it. I would not call myself a dubstep artist and I wouldn’t say that I make dubstep music: I just make electronic music…computer music. People are talking about me as ‘America’s dubstep artist’, but if you listen to my sets, I’m not a dubstep artist. I don’t just play dubstep, I play everything from dancehall to moombahton, to hip hop and electro to drum ’n’ bass, the hard stuff to the sexy stuff – I play it all. I just happen to have big tunes that are 140bpm and in half time and those happen to be some of my more popular tunes.
Why has dubstep taken off like it has in America? I think ‘bass music’ is a better term. It is big but electronic music in America is the biggest it’s ever been as well. I think that’s a big part of why it seems so popular.
What is it like when you play a show there? Some of them have been pretty decent: venues of 6,000 people. Here’s the crazy thing to me, though: I’m friends with a lot of UK producers like Flux Pavilion and Doctor P and a good night for them in the UK is playing in front of 800 people. I was like, ‘Dudes, wait until you come out to the US, you’re gonna smash over here.’ Thier tunes have been so influential in the US, it’s a part of what brought dubstep to a younger crowd. When they finally toured America [in June this year], they were selling out 4,000-capacity rooms! It’s crazy.
There are a few people on internet forums that say that you’ve “ruined dubstep”. What’s your view? It’s funny because all the dubstep purist guys that actually make music that pioneered the scene are all my friends. There’s no hate within the music scene at all. It’s people that have nothing to do with anything who are so critical, and think they have ownership of something, but no one owns it. It can be whatever it wants to be. I hear all this shit that dubstep is dying and it’s changing. And it’s like, dude, at the end of the day, the records that you like will always be there. And unless you’re going out and buying tickets to my shows, you don’t have to worry about me bothering you, unless you go out of your way. What’s next for you? I’ve got a record label started I’ll be releasing a Porter Robinson EP pretty soon. It’s one kid; he’s 18 years old and has just graduated from high school. He’s just started making four-to-the-floor electro-house stuff, and his new EP goes from that and dubstep to trancey stuff and moombahton. The label is called Owsla. You know the book Watership Down by Richard Adams? It’s a book about rabbits, and the Owsla are the elite army of rabbits: they are the badass rabbits that kill all the other rabbits. It sounds quite evil when I say it that way, but it’s a beautiful book and a beautiful story, and I think it’s a really nice word.
Skrillex’s The Mothership Tour kicks off 51 US dates on September 17, with a huge number of international festival dates before then. He heads to the UK with Flux Pavilion and Koan on November 16.