Wednesday, March 28, 2012

How do you feel about Skrillex?

In the past two weeks, "brostep" figurehead and former Warped Tour small-fonter Sonny Moore, aka Skrillex, has played SXSW and received major coverage on the hipster tastemaking sites Pitchfork and Stereogum. So, some questions:

What's going on here? Is the indie music sphere warming up to Skrillex's bowel-movement-esque bass drops and cheap caffeine high aesthetic? Is this an earnest attempt to cut through the divisive maybe-bullshit about authenticity, legitimacy, and gender politics surrounding the chart-topping dance act? Did Pitchfork post an interview only to further its never-ending competition with Stereogum? Is this a case of the "underground" seizing upon and (possibly ironically) re-appropriating a mainstream sound just to mess with expectations and prove the supremacy of its cultural capital? Speaking of authenticity, how convincing is this sudden attention given that these publications and the audiences to which they cater have a history of derisively ridiculing this very act? Is the high traffic on these articles due to interest in Skrillex or interest in hearing the "victim" (or should that be "enemy"?) speak at long last? Is the polarizing Skrillex worthy of "defense" from the most renowned online independent music criticism publications currently running -- especially after being slammed by one of the most famous figures in U.K. dubstep (the "real" kind) on one of the same sites, to much praise? What is "real" dubstep, anyway? Why does this post require so many quotation marks? Is the U.S. fundamentally uglier, clumsier, worse at dancing, less aesthetically refined, and more misogynistic than the U.K.? Is Skrillex trying to simulate the sounds of gastroenteritis, or is that a coincidence? Is Skrillex's music sexist? Can it be listened to sober without inducing a headache? Is Skrillex a poser? Is Skrillex the 2010s answer to hair metal? I thought that was Sleigh Bells?

And, most importantly of all: Is Skrillex actually any good? Does he have anything interesting to say? Do you care?

If so, check out the articles here (Pitchfork) and here (Stereogum). And below, watch the video for "First of the Year" by Skrillex:

And here is the video for "Come to Daddy" by Aphex Twin. In the Pitchfork piece, Moore claims Aphex Twin as a major influence, and it's not hard to hear "Come to Daddy"'s sinister industrial slice-and-dice (and freaky vocal horrorshow) in Moore's work as Skrillex. In fact, Moore mentions this video (an obvious inspiration for the "First of the Year" video) specifically. If you still don't see why you should watch it, it's also one of the best works of the notoriously twisted British music video director Chris Cunningham.

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