Sunday, February 19, 2012

Skrillex for Dummies (Part 1 - The Basics)

By Techno School, Vertigo Shtick contributor and dance/electronic correspondent 

My job is killing me. The hours are long, I'm constantly extinguishing metaphorical fires, and I find myself growing more cynical and bitter every day. I've found myself wondering what it was about this job that was so alluring as to take me away from the culture and cool of the Pacific Coast.

But I am in no position to leave yet. And giving up is for sissies. So what do I do? I strap on some headphones and crank up the Skrillex. And I blast that shit into my ears on repeat until I can't hear the voices screaming in my head to cut my losses, pack up, and GTFOH. Or at least until my ears hurt so much I forget it's the job, not the music, that I'm pissed at.
Now, see, had I mentioned cranking up Skrillex to y'all a month ago, you woulda been like Who? But something absolutely freaky has been going on in the music industry, and with two songs currently playing on the radio to go with his three Grammy wins last week, all of a sudden Skrillex is an artist people have actually heard of! This feels like insanity at its finest.

Skrillex is a SoCal creation, and I was first introduced to his work when the Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites EP came out a couple years ago. Back then, my friends asked me to join them to see Skrillex play in Vegas, but this was before I became a dubstep freak, so I declined. His music was too off-the-wall and had this trying-too-hard quality to it that I kind of hated. I've since changed my mind about the man's work.

Skrillex composes electronic music that at first sounds weird and confusing, but as you repeat the songs over and over—as I often do—what emerges is a traditional structure that holding these bizarrre sounds together. His tracks are often short and have an intro, a chorus, verses, a bridge...everything one would expect from a song in another genre. And I think it's part of what has made Skrillex so commercially successful in the mainstream as of late (try selling one of Tiësto's half hour-long, slow-building trance singles to people accustomed to the likes of Rihanna and Kanye West). This is what we see with “ScaryMonsters and Nice Sprites,” his Grammy-winning single, and “Bangarang,” the first single of his to grace the alternative rock radio scene.

And, just like Nicki Minaj, Skrillex injects a certain kind of quirky energy into his songs that is perfect for a short feature if a washed-up, past its prime band like, oh, I don't know, Korn, wants to regain some relevancy.

Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites—the album, not the single—was an impressive collection of recordings, and Bangarang—again, the album—is an absolute triumph of its genre...whatever genre that is. Skrillex has quickly climbed the ranks into the world of techno greats, and he is already making his mark in the wider musical community. So go be a music snob, buy Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites, and pretend you were into the man's music before it was the popular thing to do. And it's a rule of thumb that every DJ's live performance is at least five times as good as his or her EP, so whenever it is that Skrillex goes on tour (he has limited US tour dates coming up, but if you live in Europe you are in luck!), for crying out loud, buy a ticket.

Techno School is Vertigo Shtick's dance/electronica correspondent, currently based in Detroit.

 Available on iTunes, Amazon                             Available on iTunes, Amazon
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