At the suggestion of a drunk friend, I have decided to make a documentary about electronic music. It’s gaining real popularity and it’s a topic that I find myself diving into constantly. But the idea of writing interviews and monologues; talking to various interested/qualified individuals over the course of months or even years seems like a dauntingly boring task. And one which, I truthfully fear, will fizzle and never come to fruition.
Therefore, with the mindset of the researcher, I will be committing this blog to my findings and speculations. But I have no intention of limiting the scope to my own eyes. I encourage any/all readers to challenge my assertions, to enlighten my short-sightedness, and to formulate their own opinions based on my findings. I have no point to prove, merely many stories to tell. The first of these seems naturally appropriate: Skrillex
He’s tours the world, he’s won three Grammys, and many see him as the sole pioneer of Dubstep to “mainstream” America. He’s become a household name, of sorts. And just like any wunderkind, heaps and heaps of hate, flak, and inexhaustible trolling have been sent his way. This is normal, though quite astounding. Read through the comments section of any YouTube video about Skrillex and you’ll find four or five degrading remarks on the first page alone. It’s a little bit sad and certainly a waste of time.
There are only so many ways to spin a sentiment. The arguments against Skrillex primarily fall into one of these categories:
1. He’s not a real musician
2. Anyone can do what he does
3. He’s a sellout
4. His style is ugly/ridiculous
These are not sparse. They are so prevalent, in fact, that it all jumbles into babble – like a lunatic raving about the end of the world. There’s too much shouting, so no one’s listening. But the constant flow of hate towards this EDM champion actually proves a larger point. He’s doing something right!
So, to address these points:
1. (He’s not a real musician) That’s what they thought about rock n roll. They thought it was strange, demonic noise. He doesn’t strum a guitar, but he’s a rock star! His music is loud, energetic, and POWERFUL. He’s draws in massive crowds and blows their fucking faces off. Skrillex is keeping his head outside of the box, for the sake of his art. Watch this video, and you’ll see that he’s a humble, hardworking artist. He spends all of his time manipulating sounds in a way that he understands and excels at. Many who feel that his art is not music claim that all electronic music is lifeless, vacuous. Understandably, Dubstep requires a certain palette to appreciate, but music holds no power if the listener won’t surrender themselves. Yes, an artist can arrange and compose wondrous things; a poet can pour their soul into lyrics, but the listener must accept what’s being presented before it can resonate.
[Additionally, the reason any song seems to "emote" is because of the change in dynamics, that is to say, the change in the levels and presence of each of the instruments. Computers make the emulation of this capable with imperceptible replication.]
Creating music is just like creating anything else. At some level, you are using resources provided by someone else. An architect draws up the plans of a building, but he doesn’t pour the cement, he doesn’t craft the wood or nails, nor spread the mortar. Using a computer to make music shows hunger for more than what one man can do with his fingers. A conductor would not be disgraced because he does not play all of the instruments himself; in fact, quite the contrary. The ultimate say comes from him; and therefore, he is responsible for what is happening on every level.
2. (Anyone can do what he does). Then do it! You don’t think plenty of people would want to tour the world, seeing everything there is to offer, as a professional entertainer? Yes, it’s taxing – but it also sounds like the one of the most rewarding experiences. Skrillex flourishes by being himself, and no one else would be a better Skrillex. A local DJ friend recently lamented “every kid with a macbook and a Traktor has become a ‘professional DJ.” They see what he’s got and they want it.
3. (He’s a sellout). In case you haven’t yet watched the video above, he talks about how he’s not trying to make money. He’s not trying to sell anything, really. He’s on the ride of his life doing what he loves and simply wants to keep that train-a-rollin’. That said, of course someone is making money off of what he’s doing, both directly and indirectly. But who would want a silly thing like money when you’ve got the life he leads? I earnestly think he’d be doing the same thing he is now if it meant he were still only playing local clubs for drinks. The kid wants to party, and he does it well.
4. (His style is ugly/ridiculous) Of course it is. Lady GaGa, Rihanna, Madonna, Moby, Daft Punk, Nikki Minaj, Coolio, Snooki, Carrot Top, Katy Perry, Dennis Rodman, Russel Brand, Kat Williams, Larry the Cable Guy. All of these people have a certain level of outlandish/unique style – they are instantly distinguishable from everybody else because of how they look. That’s brand marketing 101 people, and Skrillex is no fool. He wants people to hear his music, he wants people to know his name, and he wants to leave behind a legacy in a world where everyone’s only got a 30 second window. Again, I assert: he is himself.
More importantly, why would that even matter? I don’t care what he looks like, I like the juicy morsels that comes out of that black-framed noggin of his.
So what? Why should anyone care about Skrillex?
Skrillex is more than a DJ/Producer, he is a harbinger of the future. Without individuals who are constanly pushing the envelope; who stretch the imagination and blur the lines between reality and fantasy; who live to love and spread their message, we are doomed to rot in comfortable complacence. He is a symbol of the rise of the artist. We don’t want money and we don’t want power. We want love, community, and some FUCKING BASS!
Who’s with me?