The electronic phenomenon discusses being pigeonholed, the joy of K-pop and and the benefits of ‘not having restraint'
After releasing countless EPs, remixing beats in his bedroom and giving away music on MySpace, 26 year old Sonny Moore, better known as Skrillex, yesterday did what's now known as "doing a Beyoncé" – and announced and streamed an album out of the blue (via his Alien Ride app and Dazed). Recess is a wild and explosive record, intergalactic in its ambitions and unrelenting in its exploration of different samples, beats and sounds. From the surprising guests (Kid Harpoon, Fatman Scoop, Chance The Rapper) to the refix of Niki & The Dove's "DJ Ease My Mind", the album is an antidote to the notion that Skrillex is made up solely by the sum of his donks.
Dazed Digital: What made you want to launch your album through an app?
Sonny Moore: It's funny because the app might surprise a lot of people but it's a good way to distribute music. I mean "Bangarang" I just put online on Christmas Day last year. That was old school. Nobody else does that. Zero marketing, zero anything, a lot of people don't know that. But with the app, I wanted to make something for my fans. Look, I don't want to hype my record, I don't want to slowly tease it out. I want to just present it as it's supposed to be. This is my first fully-formed album, I've done EPs and other projects, but for this record, I wanted to just put this out there. Putting a free app out, having a countdown to the release, it's just a fun way to do it.
Sonny Moore: Not directly. To me, the app is a way for me to deliver music to people who like my music. My core fans. I know this isn't going to change the world. I just thought I'd put a free app out and see what happened. So the people who are interested can check it out, no pressure. Right now there are underground acts out there on the internet releasing music in really clever ways, with really cool video content that supplements the music.
DD: Some cynics say it's an easy way to drum up success; Jay Z's album was certified platinum before it was even released because of a pre-order technicality.
Sonny Moore: I think when big acts release music regardless of the format, they know it's going to be a hit. More importantly, catering to core fans with apps like this makes it an exciting time to be a fan. When big names like Beyoncé and Jay Z do this, it solidifies that idea that you can expect the unexpected even from big stars.
DD: You're known for your dubby sound but there's a very broad expanse of influences on the album. What made you want to break the mould?
Sonny Moore: I get asked that a lot, like this dub thing follows me around. I've never focused on one style, the different work I've done is testament to that. I mean, the dub stuff is always going to be a big part of my sound, it's at the core of a lot of my work. In my mind (Recess) will show people who don't know me beyond the surface and the full extent of my influences.
DD: In the UK you're synonymous with dropping donks on things. Do you feel pigeonholed?
Sonny Moore: I think it's weird, 'cause people pair me up with dub music like that's all I'm about. I was a frontman (in From First To Last) and I've put out loads of different EPs that says a lot about what is influencing me. I'm not trying to be too hip hop or too dub, I just want songs that I can play out to my community, it's just about having a connection, and it's good to experiment with different sounds like that. Working with A$AP Rocky was great, but I've got K-pop artists on my new record and last year I did the Spring Breakers soundtrack.
DD: How did you end up working with Chance The Rapper on Recess?
Sonny Moore: Well we've actually been friends for quite a long time. Over a year ago he came to L.A and he just stayed at my house. We always try and watch each others' shows, so the idea of working together came pretty naturally. I remember hearing all these cuts from the mixtape and thinking it was incredible that there was this young kid - who was literally sleeping on my couch at the time - who was so talented and making these amazing deep cuts. His voice is so simple but incredibly soulful. He's great.
DD: There's also the surprising inclusion of 2NE1's CL on "Dirty Vibe"...
Sonny Moore: Yeah, I guess people might be surprised I'm into K-pop, but whatever, I think it's incredible. K-pop has this relentless energy to it, there's no boundaries and there's endless scope for what you can do. All the sounds and visuals, the costumes and fashion... there's no limits. It's a genre that celebrates not having any restraint, which I love. So working some of that into the album was really cool. I love Korean music. All their stuff is trap and electro and hip hop and R&B, their culture is so cool.
DD: What about the re-worked "DJ, Ease My Mind" by Niki & The Dove? How did you end up sampling that on the new album?
Sonny Moore: I am a big fan of the song. I've remixed it and played it a few times since the song came out, it's such a big, dramatic song, I love that vocal on it. I don't know what it is but it gave me that idea, when I wanted to refix it for the album, you know, to take the vocal away, that big, loud "Dee-Jaay!" bit and isolate it, and keep it isolated, until it hits that massive drop and it all goes off. The contrast in (Niki & The Dove)'s songs are beautiful. There's an intense emotional connection in their music.