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Skrillex: to hate or not to hate….that is the question

January 3, 2012


The much-dissed Skrillex has apparently just come fourth on the BBC‘s Sound Of 2012 new music list. The very mention of his name elicits much scorn and derision from many of my friends and I’ve only ever been partly clear as to why that is. I have pondering this question.

Dubstep was born in Surrey Street in my home town of The Cronx. Somehow, I was blissfully unaware of it until about 2008 and, even then, I didn’t quite ‘get’ it until a little later. It grew from roots in grime and UK garage, imported some dub production techniques and took over the world without a single hit track to its name. This is all well documented elsewhere.

The US American music scene, although permanently manacled to the leaden weight of the half dozen tired musical genres the record industry accountants can grasp with their tiny unimaginative minds, could not ignore dubstep for ever.

People, if not labels, were hearing the incredible sounds that dubstep was introducing to the musical palette and were introducing these British ideas to their own dancefloors. Naturally, they wanted to make the music themselves. (Incidentally, some Americans were arguably more creative, taking the textures and sonics of dubstep, mixing them with reggaeton and hiphop and creating moombahton, and in particular, moombahcore).

The Americans’ history, however, was different. They hadn’t developed the new sound through an evolutionary process involving earlier species such as grime and UK garage. No, the new world of growly, wobbly bass found fertile soil in the well-established realms of industrial music, West Coast intrumental and left-field hiphop and, to a lesser degree, in the indie band culture. This is a good thing; there would be no point in Americans pretending to be British. (It is mildly annoying how much bass-orientated West Coast US electronica is erroneously marketed by cretinous American record labels as dubstep, though).

Skrillex‘s roots are in a guitar band. I hear his music and I hear no blackness. It is white music, through and through. This is fine because he is a scrawny white boy so scrawny white boy music is appropriate.

So – why do some British music fans seem to hate him so much? I guess a preliminary question should be ‘Do they actually hate him?’ Well, some clearly do. They’re some kind of dubstep teddy boys, ‘purists’ harking back to a non-existent golden age of ‘pure’ dubstep. Idiots. Music always evolves and, indeed, dubstep is vital and healthy enough to give birth to a new sub-genre almost every day. Even the dubstep meta-genre, as we’ve already said, derived from a mixture of existing and ever-changing styles. There is no logical ground for anti-Skrillex prejudice on the basis of ‘purity’ of style. There is no pure style.

Skrillex quote: ‘You can get 200 people bitching about me in a chat room or you can get 100,000 people dancing to every single drop I play. All ego aside, that’s just the truth, you know what I mean? They can go bicker and waste their lives… You know what I mean? Good for them. Be purists.’

I won’t claim to be a huge Skrillex fan. I’m not. His music is a little too white, a little too rock, for me. However, he makes some staggering sounds and edits them in a way his many imitators are still failing to attain despite much effort. I believe he has genuinely done something new, creating a dynamic style that, although perhaps mislabelled as dubstep, is a style proper to his culture. Hating on him achieves nothing; if you don’t like his dubstep, go make better dubstep. Then you have a right to bitch publicly.

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 11, 2012 10:01 am

    And if you’re not sure what Skrillex sounds like, his first EP is available for free download…

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