With Tomorrowland 2018 well underway, it can be easy to get wrapped up in the weekend’s groundbreaking sets, inevitable unreleased track teases, and larger-than-life production value that the Belgian festival promises each year. However, those looking for a bit of Tomorrowland nostalgia might enjoy this quick trip down memory lane back to Skrillex‘s iconic main stage set from Tomorrowland 2012.
Ah 2012… the year fondly remembered as EDM’s dominating break into the mainstream.
At the time, Skrillex was indisputably the face of American dance music, and it truly shows in this set. Just months after the release of his Bangarang EP, the screamo-frontman-turned-superstar-DJ breaks out now-canonized gems including “Kyoto,” and “Devil’s Den,” and “Breakn’ a Sweat.” The Tomorrowland crowd was one of the first to hear songs like “Next Order,” from his Dog Blood project with Boys Noize, and “Welcome to Jamrock” live. Still rocking his once signature thick frames and half-shaved crop, Skrillex delivers an exceptionally eclectic outing at perhaps the height of his breakthrough moment. Wrapping up the set with the classic “Reptile’s Theme,” this half hour of Tomorrowland history showcases Skrillex well on his way to the top of the world of electronic music.
Rihanna and her label, Roc Nation, are in the midst of completing an album devoted to singer’s Caribbean roots. Sources close to the project have also suggested she’s also working on a different pop-oriented album. For the last year, team RiRi has been searching for beats, collecting what sources say is close to 500 records from different producers for the dancehall album alone. One producer whose asked to remain anonymous told Rolling Stone, “They’re only choosing 10 records. They’ve been having writing camps and trying to keep them quiet for almost a year and a half now. I’ve been flying to Miami, flying to L.A., cutting records nonstop for this project.” Apparently the Barbados-born pop queen’s A&R is still asking for records.
Many of the singers and producer’s who’ve contributed to the project believe Jamaican artists will benefit from the high-profile release. Producers listed as potential collaborators include Drake affiliates Supa Dups and Boi-1da, reggae artist Chronixx, electronic pop royalty Skrillex, and an army of others. The “Work” singer has been enlisting demos from top-tier Jamaican talent to further penetrate the American market. Dancehall may be seeing a steep rise in representation in pop music currently, though Rihanna’s upcoming work looks to seal that envelope. Nearly half of Spotify’s most played songs ever have a soca inspired rhythm — from Drake to Dillon Francis. With Rihanna’s team hard at work intentionally highlighting Jamaican producers, fans might be introduced to a whole new genre of popular music soon.
Few musicians in the electronic dance music scene are more highly regarded than American DJ and Producer Skrillex. His music has been performed live across the world, and is featured routinely on the radio — it’s even used on soundtracks for television and commercials.
The producer’s sound is taking on a new frontier with an announcement that was made from Japanese company Feelcycle‘s Instagram account this past week.
According to the post, Skrillex has worked with the company to curate a personalized soundtrack and workout program. Feelcycle advertises itself as a cycling class series that is different than normal studios in that it has the sound system and light show of a nightclub to keep rider’s energized and engaged. More or less, it’s an advance version of soulcycle, fused with a clubber’s fantasy.
Skrillex’s workout class is launching on July 14, and attendees will be able to ride to his own musical and fitness choices for the class. Japanese based readers can reserve the class at a location near them.
Drum ‘n’ bass dynasty, Pendulum, sent the EDM world reeling when they reunited for a live set at Ultra in 2016 after a five-year hiatus, with new tour dates and festival appearances following soon after. But as of this March, fans have been writhing in anticipation after the group announced there was a remix album in the works, consisting of both their most-famed hits and personal favorites.
Finally, the prolific collection has arrived, with offerings from some of the scene’s most profound presences, including Skrillex (the previously shared “The Island, Pt. 1 (Dawn)“) and drum ‘n’ bass counterparts, Noisia (“Hold Your Color”). Other outstanding offerings include that of Pendulum’s own dubstep duo Knife Party, consisting of the former’s founding members, Rob Swire and Gareth McGrillen, for a full-throttle hardcore remix of “Blood Sugar;” as well as a racing rendition of “Witchcraft” from Pegboard Nerds; and ATTLAS gets uncharacteristically dark for a “Streamline” switch-up.
Pendulum will be touring modestly this summer, making stops in Romania, Ibiza, and even the U.S., for all of which fans would be hard-pressed not to hear some of these new momentous revisions.
Getting signed to a record label is no small feat for any artist, though OddKidOut’s initiation into OWSLA‘s rankings might be the most nerve racking trial by fire any new signee has ever faced. The young Philadelphia-native’s first assignment, handed down from Skrillex, was to dig through OWSLA’s discography, chop up his favorite samples, and to turn them into something entirely new.
The final returned product from the prodigious beatsmith is a spectacular four-track debut EP titled Solstice, that recreates some of the label’s finest sonic snippets. On the EP’s latest offering, “Napa Street,” OddKidOut reconstructs the hook of Skrillex and Poo Bear‘s “Would You Ever,” into an echoing lo-fi hip-hop gem, piecing together an unwinding downtempo glitch primed for hazy summer night cruising. Ahead of the track and Liam Underwood-directed music video premiere, OddKidOut sat down with Dancing Astronaut to dive into the producer’s storied come up that amounted to his new OWSLA EP.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. You’ve been a touring dummer since you were 13. How did drumming impact the transition to making electronic music?
I started drumming when I was six and eventually got into producing when I was 15. I had been listening to everything from hip-hop to death metal, dubstep to jazz. Once I got my chops up on producing after a few years, I started to combine all those genres into something that was exciting to me. The transition wasn’t that hard because I was just doing what I thought sounded cool. I never really labeled it as a “genre” though. But all those years of learning the drums, plus working in a bunch of different environments made producing a bit easier from the jump.
Diplo (among others) is on record as saying that Skrillex is one of the best drummers alive in the way that he understands and designs percussion. Working closely with him now, can you speak to that?
What’s really cool about Sonny’s music is that even when it’s not a percussive element, it’s still super rhythmic and has a ton of motion. Listening to his music is so fun when you’re a percussionist because you’re picking up on all the cadences of the way he chops vocals, to the way he programs his signature sounds. And even better…getting to watch his workflow a few times really opened up the way I program my sounds now.
We’d be hard pressed to find another instance in which a newly signed artist is first tasked with remixing pieces of the label’s existing discography. Was making Solstice stressful? Tell us a little bit about going through OWSLA’s discography for this EP.
It was definitely an unorthodox approach for a debut project, but I loved making it. Sonny knew I was good at chopping up samples, so he sent OWSLA’s full discography to me and I spent like five to six months creating all types of new tracks [with] them. I probably made [something] like 45 songs, but ended up only wanting to release four of them. I had a lot of time to myself in Los Angeles so I would go through, artist by artist, and just flip them over and over until I got something I really liked. We all thought it was just a cool concept.
Some projects experience trouble translating the studio output into a live performance; and a typical CDJ setup doesn’t really seem to align with your style. What would your ideal live performance hardware setup look like?
I try not to pigeon-hole myself with anything musically. I do spin a lot with just CDJ’s…but I think you’re right in the sense that I want my live show to be more than just that. Ideally, I would have CDJ’s, a Native Instruments Maschine MK3 and Jam, and an acoustic drum set, preferably a Gretsch. That way I could trigger a shit-ton of loops and be able to spazz out percussively on a few different mediums.
Sampling is obviously a huge part of your craft. How does hip-hop culture’s use of sampling inspire what you do? Who initially sparked that interest in you?
The 90’s boom-bap era is one of the defining reasons why I love music. I remember playing Tony Hawk’s Underground on my PS2 when I was younger and hearing “Low Class Conspiracy” by Quasimoto. That lead me to start listening to Madlib, and then from there came J Dilla, Pete Rock, etc. Watching these guys inspired me to get an MPC and to start flipping up records. I always loved older music, and music with soul, so the whole process of flipping up records quickly became my favorite thing to do.
2018 looks to be your breakout year and OWSLA feels like a fitting home for you. What’s next for OKO?
But it’s been a year and a half since then, and the world needs new From First To Last.
Luckily, new material may be closer than we previously thought, as Skrillex teased the official release of “Surrender” in a recent Instagram story. In the uploaded conversation screenshot, he’s conversing with his bandmates in a group text called FFTL asking “Should we put ‘Surrender’ out for free? Just drop it for our fans?”
Skrillex’s proposition was met with enthusiasm from the rest of the group, so we’ll have to wait and see just when we can get our hands on the new track.
Back in 2014, we saw Skrillex‘s career reach its first real peak with the release of his seminal debut album and the ensuing Mothership Tour that followed. But four years in dance music can feel more like an eternity, and since then, detours with Jack Ü and massive collaboration opportunities with some of the world’s biggest pop stars have generally occupied the majority of Skrillex’s creative output, leaving fans starved for any semblance of hope that a pick-up-where-Recess-left-off scenario might still occur. Rumors of a sophomore record have been circulating for some time now, most notably with Diplo spilling the beans in passing, but while we hold our collective breath waiting for that to materialize into anything substantial, we can still revisit the pinnacle of Recess-era Skrillex on the fourth anniversary of his famed Red Rocks Mothership performance.
From the moment the curtain drops in front of the life-sized spaceship rig, the OWSLA figurehead rattles Red Rocks Amphitheater with a full two hours of heavy bass essentials for what is undoubtedly one of Skrillex’s most memorable outings to date. A lot can change in four years, and in the life of an internationally renown global dance icon, four years probably feels more like eight. But something tells us were approaching something big from Skrillex, and a revisiting of his Red Rocks set might be the perfect primer.
Skrillex‘s OWSLA label is at it again with another strong signing of OddKidOut from West Philadelphia. The young producer moved to L.A. last year to work with the dubstep trendsetter turned label boss. Solstice EP was the result, which combined a multitude of samples from past OWSLA releases.
“Getaway” uses samples from Skrillex’s “Pretty Bye Bye” to create a chilled-out, electro, hip-hop vibe. The label also released a music video that has aesthetics similar to any major apparel brand: chic and cool. The colors are on point, and the music fits the look.
On June 8, in accordance with the release of his massive Pendulum remix, Skrillex posted a few tweets looking back on the important role Pendulum‘s music has played in his life. He revealed that he was on tour with From First to Last when he stopped in a record store in Salt Lake City, where the store owner enthusiastically played him Pendulum’s iconic “Hold Your Colour.” After posting these tweets, Kaskade jumped in to reveal that Mechanized had been his store in college, and it may very well have been him who played the drum & bass track for 16-year-old Sonny Moore. The world truly is a small place.
I was 16 on tour with my band From First To Last playing Salt Lake City. there was a record store next door called “Mechanized” (RIP). The guy running the shop was super nice & eager to play me records & was far from the snobby reputation
the underground drum and bass scene was getting at the time. He played 2 for me that I ended up buying that day: DJ Baron “Operation Pipe Dream” & Pendulum “Hold Your Color.” I had already loved electronic music but after that day I told myself I would be a DJ
Newcomer 1788-L has thrown a wrench in Skrillex and Poo Bear‘s hit track “Would You Ever.” The remix is an ode to the dubstep king himself, praising his distorted vocal production, chops, and sub bass play. Poo Bear’s vocals are center stage, as one of Justin Bieber‘s main writers should be, providing a stark contrast to the heavy drop. There’s even a bit of a groovy vibe on the second verse.
The heavy use of sub bass allows listeners to feel the music. When it’s contrasted with sparkly, glitchy high ends, there’s a vast dichotomy at play. The computer is an instrument, and 1788-L is a prime example of its capabilities.
1788-L has had a quick rise to the top, already working with some of the industries top producers. The mysterious producer has dropped stellar remixes that bring out the best elements of their original predecessors, as evidenced in his remixes of Virtual-Self, Daft Punk, Kraftwerk, and 4AM.