From The A.V. Club:
At the risk of making a gross understatement, times are good for 24-year-old Sonny Moore, a.k.a. Skrillex, the producer and DJ who’s become the figurehead of pummeling, high-energy American dance music. He has yet to release a full-length album, but he’s already racked up a career’s worth of music-industry honors and gushing media coverage. In February, he was awarded three Grammys, and while he didn’t win out in the Best New Artist category, The Recording Academy saw fit to put him in the company of music’s brightest young stars, including Bon Iver, Nicki Minaj, J. Cole, and The Band Perry. In the past month, he’s been the subject of a fawning Rolling Stone profile, a laudatory Pitchfork interview, and a complimentary write-up by Stereogum. (That’s in addition to recent coverage by The Village Voice and New York magazine, and an appearance on the cover of Spin last fall.) In the coming months, he’ll be a featured artist at a series of music festivals, including Bamboozle and Bonnaroo.
There are people who hate Skrillex’s music, of course. Lots of people. He’s been criticized by other artists in his genre, inspired anti-Skrillex fan pages on Facebook, and any article about him is bound to attract scores of vitriolic comments. (From the A.V. Club’s review of Skrillex’s Bangarang EP: “Mother of God, it’s all toilet sounds!”) In many ways, this adverse reaction has come to define Skrillex. “Around certain corners of the Internet, the comments section of this site often included, Skrillex is an instant punchline,” Stereogum’s Tom Breihan wrote in his “In Defense Of Skrillex” piece, before standing up for Moore’s “goofy name,” his “goofy haircut,” and the “simple, serrated bass drop” that’s became his signature musical flourish. Breihan, who wrote about Skrillex after seeing him perform at South By Southwest last month, was attempting to make a case for an artist that’s been mocked by a vocal part of his readership. But after looking at the totality of Skrillex’s career at the moment, he hardly seems in need of defending.
In fact, Moore has worked hard to become a front-runner, and obtained significant, and traditional, advantages from the music industry in securing that position. Moore made his name by following the most trusted blueprint for building a career as a pop star in the 21st century: He’s toured constantly (playing 300 shows a year) and aggressively utilized social media (he has more than 1 million Twitter followers, and more than 4.8 million likes on his Facebook page). In the process, he’s become a reliable live draw, a guaranteed sell-out who packs them in at increasingly larger venues all over the country. No wonder powerful music-industry insiders are already giving him awards: In a business where young, bankable talent always seems to be in short supply, Skrillex appears to be a brand name with a future.
Make no mistake: That name is being pushed hard these days. And the media, it appears, is finally on board. I don’t mean to question the enthusiasm that many music critics have for Skrillex, or what he represents for the future of pop and rock music. I don’t doubt that it’s sincere, though it does seem, at times, to be a little much. Check out this passage from Neil Strauss’ Rolling Stone story:
He joined his first indie and punk bands when he was 12, toured the world fronting the Top 40 screamo band From First To Last at 16, and signed a solo deal with Atlantic Records the year he turned old enough to legally go to the clubs he’d been performing at. Now, at 24, he’s … playing the most noncommercial music of his career—his tonally dirty, dynamically aggressive brand of bass-rattling dubstep—and to everyone’s surprise, most of all his own, he has become the most exciting thing happening in popular music this moment … And everyone is blowing up his phone, from Dr. Dre to Kanye West, who took Skrillex to Vegas in his private jet, watched him DJ and then invited him to his hotel room to cut some tracks.
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