Skrillex's path from anonymous metalhead to everyone's favorite bespectacled EDM maven was a largely unpredictable one, a somewhat chance occurrence of being in the right place at the right time with the right haircut. The most recognizable figure in dubstep's rise to power, the Skriller brought the wub-wubs to the masses, becoming one of the world's biggest live attractions and making some of the head-trippiest electronic videos since the days of The Prodigy and Aphex Twin in the process.
Skrillex wasn't always known as Skrillex, however. He started out as plain ol' Sonny Moore, teenage headbanger from Los Angeles, lead singer for hardcore outfit From First to Last.
Somewhat needless to say, From First to Last did not achieve a ton of commercial success. In 2007, Sonny went solo, and by the end of 2008, he was performing under a new alias—Skrillex. He also adapted his greasy long-haired look into something a little more distinctive:
He released a couple of EPs under his new name, with more of an electronic (but still extremely punishing) sound, eventually hitting the jackpot with "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites," quickly to become one of the definitive EDM songs of the 2010s. Pivoted around a sample of Rachael "speedstackinggirl" Nedrow
screeching "OH MY GAWD!!!
," and featuring one of the most titanic drops in a genre that would come to be based around what break could punch you in the gut the hardest, "Scary Monsters" crossed over to the pop charts and made Skrillex the closest thing the dubstep scene had to a household name.
The song generated enough exposure for Skrillex that he became an improbable cover boy for SPIN Magazine in September of 2011, positing him at the forefront of "The New Rave Generation." It was the first time many of the magazine's readers had heard of (or at least seen) Skrillex, and it cemented his status as a star outside of his scene.
Skrillex also helped bring back the EDM music video to prominence, especially with the clip for "First of the Year (Equinox)," off the subsequent More Monsters and Sprites
EP. The video, which featured a young girl exacting vengeance on a sexual predator with magical electricity-fingertip-shooting powers, was an MTV and YouTube hit, and was even featured on one of the new episodes of Beavis and Butthead
Around the new year, Skrillex released his most successful EP to date, Bangarang
, which debuted at #14 on the album charts and spawned a couple Hot 100 hits in "Kyoto" and the title track. "Breakin a Sweat" even featured contributions from the surviving members of The Doors, and sampled vocals from late Doors singer Jim Morrison, and was featured in the Re:GENERATION music project
Skrillex took one of his career's first victory laps at the 2012 Grammys, where he won three awards—for Best Dance Album, Best Dance Song and Best Remix—and was even nominated for Best New Artist. Of course, the real Skrillex-related story of the evening may have had to do with his DJ buddy Deadmau5, who wore a shirt
with the artist's personal phone number on it, along with a message for Sonny:
Soon, it was revealed that Skrillex was dating his "Summit
" collaborator Ellie Goulding. The coupling with his fellow Popdust 40-er further increased Sonny's profile among non-EDMers, and raised hopes for a future collaboration—which, unfortunately, doesn't look to be coming anytime soon
Despite the lack of collaboration between the two lovebirds, Skrillex does have a high-profile collab in the works with a Mr. Kanye West
. "From what I know, it’s actually going to be the first song on his new album," Skrill says of the duet. Word.
What next for Sonny? Well, he's expanding his reach one level further—to the kiddies lining up to see Wreck-It Ralph
, the latest 3D-animated movie from Disney studios. Once he gets the young'ns headbanging and shaving half their heads, clearly there'll be no stopping the Skrill.