The SKRILLing Fields (part 3 of 3) : Monster Fresh Braves a SKRILLEX Concert [Bumbershoot 2012]

[CLICK HERE for PART 1]
[CLICK HERE for PART 2]

(dub)-Step on a Crack-(rock)

It was within a 3-song block that the decline of my Skrillex experience really accelerated.  It started with the song “Rock n Roll,” which sounds a little bit Daft Punk inspired, but a whole lot more stereotypical 90s rave DJ in execution.  A man and a woman who looked like they were selling concessions came by with bags strapped across their bodies that were full of thick styrofoam tube batons.  The construction of the party toys was similar to water noodles, except that they were white, stiffer, shorter, and illuminated with red, purple, green, or blue LED lights from the inside, with the word “ZIP” branded at one end.  These folks weren’t selling them, it was their job to give them away, “Pass these down.”  Dave and Bobby each grabbed one and swung them around, embracing the absurdity.  I handed mine off to some girl, as instructed, and just as quickly as the duo with the light up toys arrived, they had already moved on.  The girl looked at me apologetically and said that she didn’t want to take my only foam LED baton, but I assured her that I honestly didn’t give a shit and that it was totally fine for her to have it.  “Really?!”  She gazed at me, her heart swelled, and she looked as if that one gesture had just solidified this environment as a place where people are generous and we’re all as one, connected through pure magic energy and our collective search for wonderment.  It was the same shit that people used to spit at me when I was her age in the 90s–everyone is like one family and you might come out the next morning with your forearm covered in candy and rainbow bracelets, representing all of the new friends that you made and half-fucked while twisted out of your mind in a hep-ridden warehouse.  I was about 10 years, 6 degrees creepier, and 3 chess checker moves away from fucking this chick, if I wanted to.  If I had simply told her about how I used to have dreadlocks too and started talking about double-terminated enhydros, it would have been a done deal.  This place was the environment to clean up if you wanted to prey on the misguided idealism of youth and there was a mess of crazy hot young girls in the crowd, the likes of which never went to my high school.  I know that UK musician James Blake had made some, now infamous, statements to the Boston Phoenix regarding the United States‘ appropriation of dubstep, where he referred to it’s testosterone-based “Macho-ism” and how he feels “that largely that is not going to appeal to women,” but there are clearly an enormous number of women at Skrillex concerts, attracted to that sweet fantasy, soaring unicorn energy.  All that I could think about was how happy I was that I didn’t have a daughter.

In the middle of the track, Moore spoke to us in the same patronizing, yet well intentioned and encouraging, manner that you might address a small child who had just scribbled out a drawing in crayon:  “Who drew this?  Wow.  This looks beautiful.  Wow.  Did you draw this?  Yeah, I can see that… I can see that’s a castle.  Is that you, or is that– Oh right, I can see that now, that’s obviously a rhinoceros.  This is really good.  I didn’t know who made it.  I wondered ‘Who made this. This is really, really great!’  What’s that, you did?  Oh, I know that you made it now. Yeah…  You did a really good job.  Can I put this on the fridge?”  Even though we were handed these stupid LED foam tubes by the staff, he responded to them “impressed” with shock and awe by saying,  “It’s like fucking star wars out there!  Light sabres n shit!”  (That’s because you gave these to us buddy.  That’s because this was your fucking idea, not ours.)  Then he ordered at us to wave them around, before dropping right into the next song, which was a remix that he had done of a Birdy Nam Nam joint called “Goin’ In.”

Like Daft Punk, Birdy Nam Nam is from France.  Unlike Daft Punk, they are a 4-piece DMC World Team Championship DJ squad in the vein of Invisibl Skratch Piklz, utilizing their turntables as individual instruments to create a virtual band.  They’re a talented crew who I first became familiar with a couple of years ago, after seeing their impressive and disorientingly psychedelic video for their track “The Parachute Endings,” which appears to have borrowed some of it’s aesthetic from the classic animated French film, La Planète Sauvage (aka: The Fantastic Planet).  [I recommend checking them both out.]  I’m sure that the new Skrillex affiliation has brought the group a fresh wave of fans and acknowledgment, which is great, but it does bring up the issue of the remix as an art form.

I’ve never been too big on the idea of the remix, but I’ve never really formed all that much of a concrete opinion on them either way.  Skrillex is someone who’s finding a decent level of work and recognition through remix work, as many do, but that just gives way to the argument that they’re essentially just feeding off of the creations of others and it often seems as if that sort of work consists of little more than mixing up the drum patterns in tracks to create shit that, while it might be “different,” is still mediocre, overall.  If your bread and butter involves either fucking up other artists’ cuts or simply showing off your own slightly modified interpretation of the same work, I never understood why someone wouldn’t just use that time to create a completely new song altogether.  This, of course, is an undoubtedly ignorant mindset that stems from my lack of knowledge about the movement, and I acknowledge that much.  Still, I really do like the idea that a lesser known group is getting attention due to a Skrillex remix, the same way that the majority of others make their names in reverse, by remixing the work of artists with much bigger names.  With this “Goin’ In” remix, however, Sonny Moore really does some interesting shit with it and actually turns it into a very different tack with a beat that one could easily sip some sizzurp and two-step to.  He dices it up nicely and honestly creates something completely new with an entirely different feel to it.  Unfortunately, right when I was starting to consider giving him some props, here comes the DRAAAAWWWWWWWPPP!  (That reminds me, he squeezed an extended Beastie Boys “Sabotage” sample in earlier, because paying tribute to MCA is the thing to do at every festival this summer).  The minute the drop steps in, it turns his song back into the type of boring simplified cookie cutter track that Moore has built his career around.  Wubba-wub-wubba-wub-zeep Wubba-wub-zeep Wubba-wub-wubba-wub-zeep Wubba-wub-zeep.  Yeah, yeah… I’m fucking over it buddy.  You almost had me there.

Somewhere during this song, I noticed a couple who was standing to my left and uncomfortably looking at their glass bubbler.  [For people in Wisconsin, I’m not referring to a water fountain.]  The man was slightly overweight, with a stocky potato build, afro, and spectacles.  The female had a similar figure, but was an example of what has become an unfortunate and consistently reinforced stereotype in the Seattle area: a disheveled Native American woman who clearly appeared to be worn down through some sort of substance abuse problem, typically involving alcohol.  I don’t know if the man was a customer at my old job or where I had met him before–something that I never figured out–but he looked somewhat familiar.  No one was hassling with me and my giant camera lens, so I offered to switch spots with them, allowing them to move inward from the perimeter and smoke on some of those sweet chronic herbs, while blended slightly more into the crowd.  I did, however, have one suspicion and it wasn’t long before it was validated.  The upper chamber of the pipe had it’s opening located on the side, which required them to use a torch flame as a heat source.  Are you with me folks?  They were smoking on the crack cocaine.  They were droppin’ the base!!!

The next Skrillex song was the track that he created with Robby Krieger (63) and Ray Manzarek (73) of The Doors for the RE: GENERATION project/documentary.  I think that’s all that I need to say about that one.  “I”m breakin’ a sweat!  It’s alright!  I’m breakin’ a sweat!  I say a, it’s alright!  I’m breakin’ a sweat!  It’s alright!  I’m breakin’ a sweat!  “C’mon baby light my fire!” Fucking terrible.

Meanwhile, the couple from before–now in front of me–were still lighting a fire of their own (with a crack torch).  Two teenage, middle-class, suburban white boys were standing to the right of us and one of them noticed that some smoking was going down and wanted in.  It was too loud to make out the actual conversation, but I feel like my lip-reading skills were on point enough that night to give you guys a basic breakdown.  First, the kid leaned over to the couple and I’m assuming that he asked if he could hit the pipe, because the guy with the afro looked back at him and said “It’s crack!”  The kid seemed confused and, like I said, it was loud, so the man raised his voice even more and repeated, “It’s crack!  We’re smoking crack!  It’s a bad drug!”  The kid wasn’t getting it, but I had a great spot to watch this unfold, standing right behind this interaction.  “This is a bad drug!”  He repeated while shaking his head.  “Oh… ok.”  So it looked like the kid finally got the picture and eased back over next to his little buddy who came to the show with him.  That’s when the wheels started turning and I imagined him thinking through the following: “Shit, it’s a Monday night and here I am during the Bumbershoot music festival at Key arena… I could probably smoke a little bit of crack tonight.  I mean, this is probably a good idea.  This is definitely the time for me to puff a little rock for the first time, during a Skrillex show n’ all.  You know what?  I think I’m down.  I’m gonna do this thing.”  He leaned back over, to the woman this time, and let them know that he was down for the cause and wanted hit that crack pipe.

Seeing as it’s taken me this long to get this third and final installment posted, I’ve told this story a few times already, and this is the part where everyone looks worried when I come to it.  The main thing to remember, however, is that these weren’t crack dealers, these were crack smokers, and crack smokers don’t benefit from sharing their stash with some teenage boy and getting him hooked on the same mistake that they’ve made.  The guy with the afro stepped in an shut him down again.  “It’s a bad drug!”  That’s when the kid spun around and, while facing right in my direction, he threw his arms down at his sides and literally said,  “Awww, c’mon!”  If there were a tin can or some rocks on the ground, he definitely would have kicked them.  Gee wiz! Shucks!  Gaaawwwwwly!  Good Grief!  I never get to do nuthin!

I thought back about that girl from earlier, then thought about my son, and then thought about this kid.  Yeah, you’re pretty much screwed no matter what, but at least my boy is still only a 1 year old, so we have a little time.  Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to like brostep.

Move to Tears

Something clicked in me and I had to go.  I don’t think that it was anything in particular, but it definitely might have been that shitty Doors collab.  Whatever that catalyst or straw was, I had crashed right into the goddam wall.  Nothing was entertaining and even the over-the-top ridiculousness of the situation had worn off.  It felt like I was waiting at a bus stop and staring at a hunk of drywall instead of a schedule.  I reached past the crackheads, tapped Bobby on the shoulder and let those guys know that I was out.  I didn’t have anything left in me.  He nodded understanding and I was gone.

As I approached the back of the crowd, two things happened.  The first was that I realized that I might have better luck with finally getting a usable photograph from back there and decided to stay a little while longer to attempt just that.  The second was that I saw a woman that looked familiar (it’s a theme, I never remember where I know anyone from).  She was wearing a black fedora, Rocky Balboa style, and black Madonna Express Yourself” slacks.  Her boxy matching T-shirt was cut like she was late for dance class at the New York High School for Performing Arts .  That outfit would have looked forced in the 90s.  What really caught my attention though, was that that there were tears streaming down and glistening off of her cheeks.  ???  She was actually crying.  She was dancing and crying.  She was dancing and, apparently, feeling it so much that she was fucking crying?  I’ll say it again: she was actually fucking crying!  Her face was strained emotionally, like she couldn’t believe the beautiful wonder of the bass drop.  This was NKOTB mall concert level weeping.  These were Emily the Strange teen diary emotions.  “You don’t understand!  We have to be together!  I love him mom!”  Jesus Christ.

I realized that where I recognized her from was the Amon Tobin ISAM 2.0 show two days eariler.  While I was waiting for the box office to have the guest list sent down to them, she stepped out of her place towards the front of the line–it wrapped around the building–and tried to sell me her e-ticket.  The emotional distress that she had plastered across her face due to the idea of entering a show with unused tickets rivaled the same discomfort that she exuded now while she was ecstatically dance crying.  They were eerily similar, in fact, for two things that express very opposing emotions.  I would equate the first one to sitting on the toilet, trying to force something out of your ass, while the positive, yet teary-eyed, version was more akin to her having something being driven into it.  When I met her at the Tobin show, I explained that e-tickets are bullshit, because they can be printed out repeatedly, so they’re worthless on the resale market unless you find some chump that doesn’t know any better.  I told her that she should just give them away and make someone incredibly happy.  The idea blew her mind and think that’s probably what she wound up doing.

For those who aren’t into Tobin and/or his tour and may not even be fans of electronic music at all, this might not seem weird that the same person at the ISAM show would be at the Skrillex concert–I was, after all.  They may even seem like similar artists.  For someone like me, however, it was temporarily confusing, because, in my mind, Amon Tobin and Skrillex are, more or less, on exactly opposite ends of the spectrum.  The ISAM live show is a production incorporating groundbreaking, state of the art 3-dimensional projection mapping technology to overlay brilliantly crafted visuals, which can be triggered live via the audio being generated by Tobin, over a meticulously constructed installation that houses the producer inside of it like a cockpit.  Skrillex‘s show involves him standing in front of a bunch of jumbotrons while videos play and a rapeload of lights and lasers flash at random.  The ISAM album that Amon put together is constructed out of endless tiny samples, each of which the artist created himself by recording mundane, every day objects and then processing them in various manners, layering and interweaving them together to form elaborate and visceral compositions.  In fact, one of his primary intentions involved him creating each of those individual sounds just so that he could then play them like a more “physical” instrument through a crazy midi controller fingerboard known as a haken continuum.  I recently watched a short documentary where Skrillex mentions that all he needs to create any of his music is a laptop and some headphones.  He mentions this while explaining that he makes songs in hotel rooms while he’s traveling and has even made various tracks in cars.  Neither Tobin‘s album or show were created to be conducive with getting your dance on.  Skrillex… well, that’s pretty much the whole point.  Whether you’re supposed to start sobbing during it or not is another question.  After thinking about it, of course, it became pretty clear why this woman would have shown up at both of the shows; she just wanted to see tripped out visuals.  Most people probably think a lot more simply and obviously about these things than I am doing.

From the back of the crowd, the perspective was different.  Well, it’s obvious that the perspective was different, but what I mean is that the perspective of who the crowd was composed of and what the scene was migrating towards was a little easier to absorb as a larger picture from that vantage point.  The crowd was enthralled and beaming their energy towards the stage.  They couldn’t believe that they were there.  They were fucking in it.  But, try to image watching people stand around while they’re, in turn, watching paint dry and pumping their fists in the air, because that’s sort of what it felt like.

Actually, no… that’s too lazy and terrible of an analogy.  You know how if you wind up at some square public, community event with families–maybe it’s a 4th of July fireworks event or something–and there’s some form of cookie cutter live entertainment that suburban moms are clapping to off rhythm…. you know that feeling?  That feeling of judgement that you get when people are simply enjoying themselves, but they happen to be doing it in a way that you think is corny and to shit that you probably believe is too soulless and contrived; that’s what I was experiencing.  I used to work at a hotel checking people in at night and large groups would do everything from travel in to see Kenny Chesney concerts to fly cross-country to wait in line just to buy sneakers.  There was a ton of shit that I was never gonna fully wrap my head around the appeal of (except the shoes of course; the resale was ridiculous), but they were things that, within those groups, there was no question was the coolest shit in the world to do.  Everything about this Skrillex scene, from the music on, seemed surface level and assembly line, but I guess that I’m to assume that the emotions that people were demonstrating that they were deriving from it were real.  I mean, there was a girl weeping for chrissakes!  Sometimes families in polo shirts really just get into a local band playing classic rock cover songs while they eat elephant ears and it’s possible that there’s a certain level of bitterness, and possibly even some envy, on my part for not being jaded and unable to embrace such things and simply enjoy myself in these environments.

At one point, Sonny “Skrillex” Moore asked something to the effect of “Seattle, are we best friends tonight?!”  Everyone screamed.  I didn’t realize it yet, but it was approaching the end of the show.  Skrillex pulled out a lighter on stage.  I turned around and they popped up everywhere in the stands surrounding me.  A really generic R&B pop tune started playing and I was puzzled, because this didn’t even sound like electronic music to me.  There were synthetic elements, sure, but they were the type that have been used in the production of endless Top 40 hits for decades.  What the fuck was going on?  I didn’t know who was singing on this cut, but it could have been anyone from Adam Levine to Jon Secada; all that I knew was that it was bad.  It was a love ballad that sounded like a fucking Backstreet Boys track, complete with synth fluorishes shimmering like Fern Gully dew.  Hmmm… nobody seemed to be pissed off by this turn of events.  In fact, they all seemed to genuinely welcome this trite.  “Make some noise if you’re fucking feeling alive!”  The song continued, but the music just sounded like the same production that could be found on any pop starlet’s album over the last 15 years.  Then the chorus came back through and the house lights abruptly kicked on.  It was startling, as it is whenever you flash on the lights after being in a dark room for an extended period of time.  Instead of the stage, which was now in stark contrast without any illumination whatsoever, the crowd became the focal point and you could see every one of these unassuming mallrat teens and random Bumbershoot attendees.  This was when the creepiest most cult-like moment of the evening came into place; everyone knew the words and was singing along to this shitty ballad.  That means that this wasn’t just a random song that he mixed into the set, this was like their goddam anthem or something.  People had their eyes closed and their hands laid across their chests, swaying as they crooned out in unison.  I looked to the left of me to see a grown man with a beard doing the same, except that he incorporated a gently tilted 360 turn in with the dramatic hands on his chest and eyes closed routine.  “I love you just the way you are…”  Yikes, no.  This was feeling a little Eyes Wide Shut.  What if they noticed that I wasn’t singing?  Would they recognize me as an outsider to their flock who had penetrated their ritual and swarm me with their flickering Bics and frothing mouths?  Should I just move my lips along, stare at the ground, and twirl to insure my own preservation?

Research has since determined that the lyrics being echoed by the mob were from a song called “Cinema” and it’s actually yet another remix of someone else’s track.  The original was a club hit by House DJ Benny Benassi and featured British vocalist Gary Go.

For a full list of these incredibly shitty lyrics, CLICK HERE.  To provide you with a gist of the (junior) high level of songwriting capabilities displayed on this cut, here’s the chorus:

You are a cinema
I could watch you forever
Action, thriller
I could watch you forever
You are a cinema
A Hollywood treasure
Love you just the way you are
A cinema my cinema
A cinema a cinema a cinema a cinema

I have to admit that Skrillex has some sort of ridiculous skill set, because he actually managed to take this club track and, by slowing the beat and throwing is some little pulsating crescendos of sustained electronic keys, he made it sound even less masculine, essentially creating a new age foundation for a 1990s adult contemporary station.  Of course, that’s only until you hear “Drop the bass” and the power drills, blenders, and dial tones are brought in all over again.  ANOTHER FUCKING DROP?????!!!!  Remaining an impartial observer is next to impossible; it’s all just so one-dimensional and sad.  I’ve also discovered that Moore managed to win a Grammy for this mutation, which was just another artist’s music with shitty Skrillex rhinestones hot glued to it to give it a “new” life like a bad Jo-Anne Fabric‘s arts and craft project at a local community center.  It turns out that Kanye West even referred to this “CinemaSkrillex remix as “one of the greatest works of art ever made.”  Seriously?  How is this not supposed to make me hate this song even more than I already did?  I want you all to keep in mind that this is actually Skrillex‘s hit track.  This is one of the things that he’s known for!  This was considered a huge “success”!  This trash is actually… you get the idea, but… I don’t know, it’s just difficult for me to completely accept.

This is the song that I finally left during, but on my way out, the staff member manning the building exit informed me that there was only about 2 minutes left in the performance schedule anyway.  Based on youtube footage, the remainder of the finale included his track “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” and some blatant audience pandering, as he stood on his console and screamed shit like “Make some noise for your selves!” and “GO SEAHAWKS!”  [I’m not joking, he actually screamed “Go Seahawks!”]

The Br-br-br-br-br-br-break Doooooowwwwn

As my time at the show ended, I came away with one very unexpected impression and Sonny Moore‘s communication with the crowd, including his gifts of foam LED batons and inquiries about if we were all his “best friends,” only fueled that impression.  It felt as if the entire concert was an over-the-top party thrown by a shy formerly-unpopular rich kid in an attempt to impress people, making them like him and earn their friendship.  It was as if this was all put together as a giant gift by someone who had a lot of  love to give, but nowhere to put it or way to deliver it.  I had originally assumed that my feelings were unfounded, but had to acknowledge them as genuine impressions that I experienced.  There’s also the slightly different interpretation that everyone was simply made to feel welcome at this show and that’s why it appeals so much to everyone else that has ever felt various levels of rejection.  No matter how you slice it, though, there’s a little bit of a hedonistic Pinoccio Pleasure Island scene there, complete with crack cocaine and psychedelics, as well as an eternal youth, a la Hook, vibe for those that either want to revisit their childhood or simply escape the version of one that they’re currently experiencing.

This may all be a lot to read into something as basic as a show with flashing lights and simple electronic beats and I’m aware of that, but if you actually look into Sonny Moore‘s bio and history, you’ll discover a kid who found out that he was adopted and someone that was pulled out of boarding school to be home schooled after being bullied.  From there he migrated towards becoming a teenage screamo musician and scenes that were built around adolescent sadness.  Whether or not there’s any basis of fact behind the idea that these things might play into his intentions regarding his music and stage shows, I am completely convinced that Sonny Moore is not some cocky douchebag that wants to construct masculine electronic parties for fratboys.  I do believe that he’s trying to create music that makes people happy, which he’s apparently accomplishing, but he’s simply a one-note that isn’t really doing anything that’s very impressive or interesting to me.  Every piece of video footage points to him being a really nice fucking guy who’s just happy to be at the party.  So there’s my complicated analysis about why someone is creating something that is so uncomplicated.  Unfortunately, I’m not reviewing his personality or intentions, I’m reviewing his music and and the scene surrounding it in the manner that I experienced it.

The two most interesting Skrillex tracks that I’ve come across are probably “Fucking Die Part 2” and “Reptile,” because they actually contain some pretty heavy beats throughout, but they both still sound like that Double Dragon video game shit and are chock full of zaps and “level up”-style sounds, with “Reptile” even containing samples like “Fight!” and then actually appearing in a Mortal Kombat 9 commercial.  Come to think of it, does anyone remember that mid-90s Immortals (basically, Lords of Acid) Mortal Kombat techno theme song, when the voice screamed “Mortal Kombat!” and then it would go into the breakdown?  Skrillex is kind of like a modern day version of that, except that his songs don’t typically even have as many components to them.  I mean, I guess that some people might have been into that MK theme, but it will always just be some dated electro track from a video game and not anything that was supposed to garner any legitimate amount of respect beyond that.  Unfortunately, that’s pretty much what I feel that Moore is providing, both in sound and longevity.  He’s making music for people that would just as easily buy modern day videogame soundtracks, but without creating any new classic tunes like the scores that appeared in games like Castlevania or Metroid.  It’s true that Amon Tobin did score the music for Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, but even that was extremely cinematic, was rooted in his own voice, crafted expansive soundscapes, and could stand entirely on its own, beyond any cliche chiptune blips and laser blasts.

In part 1, I may have originally implied that I didn’t enter into this with much of a viewpoint about Skrillex or the American “brostep” scene that’s he’s associated with overall, but I don’t know if that’s exactly 100% true.  While it’s a scene that I’ve never really bothered to delve into much before now, I can’t deny that I have come in contact with a Skrillex track or two, at least in passing.  Some of the questions that I had during those quick brief exposures are still with me to some degree.  The main thing that I wondered about was why anyone was so obsessed with these somewhat flat bass drops.  If they really liked the complexity of the quick shifting beats, they would benefit a lot more from checking out some more interesting and exponentially more intense IDM and Drill n Bass musicians like Richard James (Aphex Twin) and Tom Jenkinson (Squarepusher).  Those artists have been creating shit that is levels above what Moore does and have been continuously doing so since the 90s, and they even mess around with the tempo (something that Skrillex doesn’t seem too overly concerned with).  There are a couple of possible answers to this question, I suppose.  One of them would be that these people just don’t fucking know any better.  Aside from that, I believe that the reality is that the kids just want really basic electronic music to dance to and they don’t really want to deal with anything too cerebral.  They only want to deal with what has been generically referred to as EDM (electronic dance music), an ill-defined genre that incorporates everything and directly represents nothing.  [Squarepusher was recently quoted in a Spinner interview as being completely oblivious to the new use of the catch-all terminology.]  Skrillex works with sounds that have an uplifting quality to them, in the same way that a Disney soundtrack does.  It enthuses the kids and puts a spring in their step.  It spreads a hopeful chipper smirk across their baby faces.  [The MDMA helps too.]

It’s probably just that I’m not a fan of house music or electro house or whatever the fuck you want to call what he’s mixing in their that sounds like stale cotton candy, but Skrillex‘s music just feels like amateur hour to me.  He continues to recycle the same chip-tune bleeps, laser zaps, phasers, and power tool sounds over and over and over, while pairing them with simple twinkling whimsical new age melodies that I wouldn’t be surprised to discover were triggered by Casio demo button.  However, the real problem is even comparing what Skrillex does with longtime electronic innovators like Amon Tobin, Squarepusher, Luke Vibert, Kieran Hebden, or Aphex Twin, because what he produces is essentially just pop music.  It’s, more or less, the exact same conclusion that I already came to through our Lana Del Rey coverage.  For me to be irritated that Skrillex and Tobin might fall into the same categorization, because they are completely different artists with completely different approaches, is ridiculous for that exact same reason.  There was a backlash on Lana Del Rey, because everyone in the Pitchfork nation decided that she was the next indie rock darling and then they panned her for not falling into that category after trying to represent herself as such.  But did she ever really represent herself that way, or did the blogs and media run with that idea and then feel foolish and scatter to protect their own images as tastemakers?  Did Skrillex promote himself as the next big thing revolutionizing the electronic scene, or is he just trying to throw a fucking party and create dance music?  His production could easily back a Britney Spears or Rhiana tune and I’m sure that’s probably the direction that he’s heading more and more anyway.  He makes pop music, but no one would even bother debating the relevancy and purity of acts like One Direction or Justin Bieber, because it’s pointless and everyone already knows that their careers are supported by nothing more than shallow pop music.  I believe that what Sonny Moore is producing is basically the same thing.  There’s nothing deep, penetrating, or mind-blowing here; he honestly just sounds like a club DJ with a more impressive lighting rig.  There’s nothing to cry about, from pleasure or pain.  Skrillex is just making some dance tunes and why should we expect anything else from his approach to the electronic field?  Remember, he is the same guy that, prior to this, integrated himself into a music scene that prided itself on emasculating punk and metal.

Brostep.  Hmmmm…  To me there’s still nothing very intense about this music other than the drop and, after hearing drop after strikingly similar drop, even those aren’t very effective.  If anything, the bros must love the twinkling melodies and the drop provides that excuse which allows them to be open about listening to them.  But, if there really are people out there that love the “intensity” and the “build up,” the “aggressiveness” and incredible “complexity” of a Skrillex joint, really believe that he’s providing it, and/or are convinced that I’m simply failing to embrace his undeniable brilliance because it’s just too much for me and something that I just can’t fucking handle or am jealous of, I’d like to leave you with the following Venetian Snares track as an example of what else is out there in the world of brilliantly complex, electronic compositions that have the ability to truly evoke authentic emotional responses.  Now you know.

Yeah, but this is so artsy and avant garde, so it’s like… it’s not even the same and doesn’t matter.  You can’t even move to this so, it’s like… whatever.”  Okay, okay, fair enough children.  Here’s a Squarepusher track that he produced more than a decade ago, proving that he can doink around with dancey pop sensibilities as well, if he really wants to.  It’s slightly more restrained, compared to some of his other work, but even here, the music has some dimensionality, progression, and movement to it, with a breakdown (aka “drop”) that is arguably more complex and interesting than anything the tweens’ undershaved messiah is bringing to the table.

For those that didn’t, these are just here so that you realize the you do have options.

Dead C

Located in Seattle, Dead C is the founder/editor, as well as the principal writer and photographer, of Monster Fresh. Creating the site in 2007, he did so with a specific dream in mind. Unfortunately, being a muscle relaxer-fueled fever dream, it's hard to recall all of the details. "I remember that my mom was there, but it wasn't actually her in the dream, it was actually 70s heart throb, Jan Michael Vincent. And everything took place here, in this room... but it wasn't actually here... it was different. The colors were washed out and, for some reason, there was a raccoon kicking it with us and it was wearing a holographic monocle."

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  • I’ve listened to some Skrillex and was left with the same general impression of his music–never gave much thought about the person himself–but I think you nailed who he is. I’d add ‘Windowlicker’ by Aphex Twin as another option of music out there that offers an aesthetic Skrillex fans might enjoy…

  • Dead_C

    Yeah, not only is Windowlicker great, but the video for it is amazing.  I agree that it’s definitely something to check out.  For this, I was mostly trying to think of a song that embodies the claims that I’ve heard about what Skrillex is supposed to be providing: an actual buildup towards an extremely intense, anxiety inducing, mind twisting breakdown.  That’s why I posted the Venetian Snares track.  Then I tried to think of something with some slightly poppy, more danceable elements that still represents the type of variations and complexities available in electronic music.  That’s why I put the extended “Red Hot Car” version on there.  I was just really surprised how basic and static Skrillex’s music was, because I was even expecting more than that.

    Thanks for reading all of this shit; I know that it got incredibly long.  I never gave much thought to him prior to this, either.  Being in the middle of the show like that and watching everyone else react to something that I was mostly only experiencing from an observational standpoint, kind of helped to form this larger concepts in my head organically.  Watching the interviews with him just reinforced the idea of him as a nice guy that keeps checking in with his audience to make sure that they’re having a good time.  That, unfortunately, doesn’t mean that the music is going to be great.  It’s the same with actual cinema, if you make it too intense, or complicated, you lose people.  Venetian Snares, Squarepusher, and Aphex do not always make music that is conducive to light-hearted fun.