By: Andrew Brown
Fun fact: before Sonny Moore was Skrillex he was the lead singer of screamo band From First to Last. Moore was 16 when he joined From First to Last in 2004. He left the band in 2007; in 2009 he released his first electro house songs as Skrillex.
The move from belting out angsty rock to producing to dance music might seem random at first. After all, how many artists have made music in both of those genres? But the shift makes sense. Skrillex is just the next step in Moore’s evolution as a musician; it isn’t a self-reinvention. Many people feel embarrassed about the music they listened to as a teenager (admission: I used to listen to Korn). But not Moore – rather than shun his musical past he embraces it. And that makes me like him because it is courageous and real.
Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites, Skrillex’s second EP, was released a month ago on Deadmau5’ Mau5trap label and Big Beat. It is unmistakably Skrillex, sounding almost identical to Moore’s first Skrillex EP (My Name Is Skrillex, released earlier this year). Moore uses stuttered vocal samples of chopped up almost-words to form melodies, and his song titles are once again silly and playful or related to feelings that are distinctly teenager, such as the rebellious “Kill Everybody”. Phrases still blink from discordant rattling to sugary synth lines mid-measure. And the music feels juvenile. The neediness and desperation of “All I Ask of You” and “Rock ‘N Roll (Will Take You to The Mountain)” channel teenage lust; the abrasive noise of “Kill Everybody”, along with its vocals (can you guess? “I want to kill everybody in the world”) bring to mind feelings of anger and self-righteousness.
But Scary Monsters sees Moore experimenting more than he did on My Name Is Skrillex. Some of the noises he used on My Name Is Skrillex flirted with dubstep, hinting at Moore’s interest in the genre. On Scary Monsters there are two dubstep tracks, “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” and “Scatta”, a collaboration with dubstep artist Bare Noize which also features solid rapping from UK grime crew Foreign Beggars. And the beautiful “All I Ask of You” is a progressive house song that combines the plucked synths that have become Deadmau5’s trademark (I suggest that he played a role in the track’s production) with an inversion of the hook of Alice Deejay’s “Better Off Alone”. These departures from electro not only prevent the EP from falling into repetition and monotony but shine in their own right; “All I Ask of You” is the EP’s best track.
Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites sounds needy and immature. But that’s the point – Skrillex is an homage to adolescence. But one can only reminisce about the teenage years for so long. A couple of EPs is fine, but much more beyond that and the music would sound tired. I hope Moore expands his subject matter as Skrillex in the future, rather than begin a new project as he has in the past. Because I like Skrillex. And if he changes genres again who knows where he’ll end up.
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