Skrillex Hits Out at Media for 'Sensationalized' Backlash, Takes 'Hardcore' Approach to Making Music
Performing sold-out shows more often than not, rocking virtually every major music festival in the country, while netting as many Grammy Award nominations as Katy Perry and Lady Gaga combined (five), MTV's No. 1 EDM Artist of the Year turned in huge remixes of Benny Benassi and Avicii, produced for Korn, collaborated with Kaskade, launched his own record label OWSLA -- and has yet to release a debut LP.
The 23-year-old Los Angeles native is certainly the year's success story, but his improbable, Internet-abetted journey to the top has netted him more than his share of online haters, while his proponents continue to sell out stadium-sized venues to hear his brand of churning and wobbling aggro-dance.
We got the chance to talk with Moore -- easily one of the friendliest people we've encountered -- about his involvement in the forthcoming 'Re:Generation' film, working with the remaining members of the Doors, his fans and haters, and how it feels to be one of the first kids from the hardcore punk scene to be nominated for multiple Grammys.
So tell us about this 'Re:Generation' project and your collaboration with the surviving members of the Doors. How did it go?
Oh, it went great! We vibed really well, we got in the studio and just made a record on the fly, right there.
Was that kind of intimidating?
No, I don't get intimidated. The only thing that made me uncomfortable was all the cameras around me the whole time, but it wasn't actually as bad as I thought it was gonna be. We made a great record, still. There was times when it was like "man those cameras are like ..." Making music is a very intimate thing.
Plus the cameras add a time crunch.
Yeah, there's a lot of things that can go through your mind, but after a little bit they kind of disappear and you're just in the moment.
How do you deal with your critics? You've been called you a "sellout," even though you were in a major-label band years before you made electronic music.
Not only that -- what have I sold out, right? Like, when I made 'Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites,' there was no dubstep wave to ride. What would I have done, like what would that mean? Not to say you're making the accusation, but if I was sitting down with someone, I'd ask them, "Well, what did I do to sell out?" I've never spent one dollar on marketing ever, on any campaign. There's never been a campaign -- it's always been straight to online. There's not been one banner ad paid for. Anything you've ever seen on TV, there has not been one money spent, I don't do things I don't want to do. If I wanted to flex, swing my d---, I could say, "I turn down money all the time for things I don't want to do." I make music on headphones and a laptop, and put it online and play shows. There's no science behind it other than that. So how am I sellout?
What kind of things have you turned down?
That doesn't really matter, you know what I mean?
Promotional stuff, like ads?
Yeah, stuff like that.
Coming from a hardcore punk background, it's gotta be really weird to have dollars thrown at you.
Yeah, yeah for sure. But, it's not weird. I left my band in the most prime moment they were in. We just signed a multi-million-dollar contract with Capitol. I walked away from all of it. I didn't expect this to happen. I left. I didn't need that, I didn't want that, I didn't care, you know? If it all ended today with Skrillex, I'd still be making records.
And you left because of the vocal issue?
No, no, no, my voice is fine. I just didn't want to be in the band anymore.
You wanted to do your own thing.
It seems the reason that your music has inspired so much hate and controversy, and all this ...
That thing is so small though, man. Honestly, like, this is no offense to you or anybody, but it's the press that fuels it, because I rock a show for 100,000 people and everybody sings every lyric. Even if you had a thousand posts on a f---in' blog it, does not even come close to the 100,000 people in just one city that get down to my music, and to the people that make the music that I make as well. It's an illusion. The Internet is more of a platform that people look at, where people think that it actually means anything. People will have their opinions, but now they have a place to voice it, so people think I have so much hate, but I'll tell you something man, I have no ego at all. It's an illusion. People like to talk about it. On the record, it's completely sensationalized.
It seems like people take issue because it all seems so impossible. How does somebody refuse to spend money on marketing and blow up on their own?
I don't know either. If there's a science, then somebody should write a book and make a lot of money on the book, right? Literally, I don't know. I make records. Ask any of my team, ask anybody. We've done it, not even on purpose, not to make a statement, we've just always done it the way we want to do it. I want to be happy. I left my old band because I didn't like doing certain things. I don't like being whored out. I don't like being on a pedestal.
Like a frontman.
Not even as a frontman. I don't like want to represent something that I don't want to represent. I wanna make my own music.
That's some hardcore s---. We get that.
Yeah, yeah. Exactly. You're a hardcore kid?
Yeah. A long time ago.
Yeah. It's a mentality. No matter what you do, you're gonna be yourself and you have to be happy, right? 'Cause if you're unhappy in your life then f--- man, go do something else, something that makes you happier. I'll make a lot less. When I left the band, I was like, "Dude, I'll make f---in' no money, I'll eat porridge and work a day job, I don't care." I would have. I would have!
You've got to be one of the first kids from the hardcore scene to be nominated for multiple Grammys, other than the Beastie Boys.
Yeah, it's crazy.
When you were younger and you were thinking about what your life was gonna be like ...
You know, I never really thought about that. Like I said, I left. When I do music I don't think about that. I just love to make music, man. That sounds so ...
No, that's why people make it.
Yeah! I love making music, man. I love making records. I don't do it because I have to, I do it because I love to do it. I don't really think about anything else.
So what kinda stuff are you listening to these days? What's inspiring to you?
Everything, man. I listen to all types of music, man. I really do. There's some good hip-hop now, a lot of U.K. stuff. P-Money. I like everything, though. A lot of the moombahton stuff that Dave Nada is doing. He's a good friend of mine as well, really dope. Koan Sound, who I signed to my label, doing this 100 BPM punky, dubby, dubsteppy, glitched out f---in' dance music that kills the dance floor.
How and when did you decide to start making electronic music? Was it the Warp Records stuff?
Yeah. I mean, I started when I was like 15, on FruityLoops, but I wasn't into sounds. I wasn't clinical, I wasn't EQing, I was like making songs. You can make songs for the dance floor, there's a lot more that goes into it, when you start mixing. That's only been a couple years for me, but I've been making beats since I was ...
Dude, hip-hop, a lot of hip-hop, and IDM, and just noises and sound design, but not like, as I said, in a clinical sense. I do take pride ... You get a lot of criticism, a lot of people saying it's noise. Like I said, I don't have any ego, but I'm somewhat proud 'cause, like, what I do isn't easy to do. I guess it all sounds the same to someone if they don't really know it, like, someone doesn't know like punk music they might think that Good Charlotte sounds exactly the same as the Sex Pistols, 'cause they don't know the music. Not to discredit either of them, it's not about that, but it's not easy to do. I take pride in my production. I spend a lot of time on my production.