Skrillex Embraces Brostep, and Is Anyone Surprised?

Skrillex's music has much more cultural influence than his hair.
Skrillex's music has much more cultural influence than his hair.
Jason Nocito

It's easy to hate on Skrillex or even just razz the dude. Probably since the erstwhile screamo frontman, once known as Sonny Moore, is sui generis and a polarizing figure in electronic dance music who provides critics with plenty of ammunition. For starters, there's that funky hairstyle (a.k.a. the "Skrillet") and "fuck you" attitude, his largely teenage fanbase, bro-tastic friendship with Deadmau5, and, of course, the demented brand of bass-heavy and fidgety EDM that propelled him to superstardom and, depending on who's doing the dissing, ruined dubstep forever.

Many have sampled the haterade when it comes to Skrillex (like the Burning Man attendees who may or may not have booed him and Diplo after their duo Jack U ended a set with "Turn Down for What," just for the lulz) but would probably agree that when it comes to his overwhelming success, the 26-year-old is unassailable. Like it or not, Skrillex and his style of EDM helped light the fuse on electronic music's resurgence in 2011, gave it a massive paradigm shift, won several Grammys, fostered the careers of producers like Seven Lions and Jack Beats (via Skrillex's popular vanity label, OWSLA), and has made more money in a single year than you'll see in six lifetimes.

Accordingly, Recess, Skrillex's debut full-length charted higher than any of his previous releases, including his breakthrough 2010 EP Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites. Although Skrillex has dabbled here and there outside his usual subwoofer-quaking stomping grounds, Recess, as did the 2013 EP Leaving, expanded his palette considerably, this time with shades of ragga, funk, jungle, dancehall, disco, reggaeton, and both indietronica and indie rock mixed in with his usual grinds and wobbles.

"It maybe hasn't always been in the public eye, but I've always made different stuff," Skrillex told NME in March. "But this is the first time I've made so many different styles under one roof, on a record."

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As with most of Skrillex's output in recent years, it was born neither in studios nor his funky L.A.-based headquarters and "creative center" The Nest, but rather in hotel rooms and green rooms in Seattle, Seoul, Stockholm, and other cities around the globe where Skrillex found himself in his nonstop travels. And he recruited and collaborated with the many artists and friends he found along the way, ranging from his OWSLA mates Alvin Risk and Kill the Noise to far-flung musicians and producers as South Korean hip-hoppers G-Dragon and YG Entertainment, England's Ragga Twins, or Sweden's Niki and the Dove.

It was a "spontaneous" production, to say the least, unexpectedly dropped on his fans in March with little advance hype via the Asteroids-like smartphone app Alien Ride. The spur-of-the-moment nature of Recess' release befit its creation process, whereby Skrillex created tracks whenever and wherever the mood struck him, even if it was in the middle of a gig. (The track "Coast Is Clear," which features Chance the Rapper and The Social Experiment, was recorded on his smartphone during a Skrillex show, for instance.)

As much as it expands Skrillex's arsenal, Recess doesn't completely abandon his bass leanings, as evidenced by "All Is Fair in Love and Brostep," the "super in-your-face" opening track that cheekily pokes fun at his infamy for creating the widely reviled subgenre.

In other words, while you can still fling dubstep-related cracks his way (our favorite: Why can't Skrillex go fishing? Because he always drops the bass), you might want to update your material.

Skrillex is scheduled to perform on Thursday, October 9, at Mesa Amphitheatre.

Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.

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