Sonny Moore is one happy dude. Sitting on the roof of his UK record label’s office with a mid-afternoon Jack Daniel’s and Diet Coke in one hand, and a scuffed BlackBerry in the other, he’s full of the joys of life. Moore is glad to be catching up with friends in London, excited about the festival he’s playing the next day, and stoked about unveiling a new video he hopes “is going to blow some minds”. This isn’t in a manic way, either – he’s relaxed and lucid. He just seems happy.
Which is encouraging, but perhaps a little incongruous given that, as Skrillex, Moore has become dubstep’s most hated producer in certain quarters of the internet. One thread on the messageboard for Coachella festival, entitled “I never realised how horrible Skrillex was until now” managed to accumulate 1,485 posts. Evidently, many fans of an underground UK genre have not taken kindly to a Los Angeleno Korn fan who dresses like an emo kid, and who used to be the singer for the screamo band From First to Last, taking dubstep to daytime radio and the pop charts.
Nevertheless, Moore is riding a spectacular wave of success. And for all those who hate him, there are many more who adore his music. Barely three years since he reinvented himself as Skrillex, he is the figurehead for the current unprecedented explosion of electronic dance music – including a high-sugar, hyperactive version of dubstep – into the middle American mainstream.
His fidgety sound, which veers from turbocharged disco in the Justice/Daft Punk mould to noises that take dubstep’s “wobble” to an extreme that suggests Satan belching, has defined a generational moment. He plays to vast, demented crowds on a daily basis, remixes the likes of Bruno Mars and Lady Gaga, is around 50 times more searched for on the popular online DJ store Beatport than any other producer, and parties with Tommy Lee. It would take some staggering self-absorption to be miserable in his shoes…