Critics, tastemakers, and especially cool kids hate Skrillex and his music just as much as all those people packed into Pasha obviously love them. Variously considered the suburbanization of dubstep, maximalist garbage, or as the blog MTHRFNKR wrote “…Richard D. James in disguise, trolling us all.” If it were the guy from Aphex Twin behind this, it would be evil genius. Since it’s just a femme 24 year old from Southern California, most people can just write it off as evil. Skrillex’s music is the worst nightmare of electronic music aesthetes because he doesn’t give a shit about the carefully enforced micro-genres, cultural hierarchies, and bro/nerd distinctions that characterize producers, D.J.s, clubs, and every other facet of contemporary dance music life. It’s a sound built from electronic music’s detritus: bad synths, corny Jamaican sound and lyric references, Romantic piano melodies, chipmunk vocals, and blow-this-shirt-to-shreds action-film sound effects. But brave as such a stance might sound, Skrillex is not doing it for art. As he’s often said, he’s doing it for fun. And for that reason, Skrillex is pretty punk.
I strongly recommend Daphne Carr’s excellent article about Skrillex on the Capital New York site. It was published a month ago, and I didn’t catch it til just now. This bit is particularly OTM.
We’re still having this argument? (“We’re” being a question mark in itself.) Fine:
1) Siding with pop over “critics, tastemakers, cool kids… aesthetes” and other strawman purists is only brave if the purists are in the majority. They never are.
2) Arguments over purity, authenticity and crossover are always a lot easier to make on the side of The Kids over The Diehards when the genre being co-opted is one that most outside observers never cared about until recently.
3) The people in EDM diehard circles who scoff at Skrillex constitute a mere fraction of the overarching cultural annoyance at his music — it’s the reddit/Buzzfeed/YouTube meme-culture set that’s taken his music, held it up as What Dubstep Is, then used that idea to turn an entire genre’s decade-plus history into a reductive “WUB WUB WUB” punchline. People who hate Skrillex because they love dubstep are vastly outnumbered by people who hate dubstep because they hate Skrillex. And it’s that latter group that’s calling the cultural shots.
4) That said, by this point the reaction to Skrillex annoys me more than his music ever could, and I admit that even though his Rusko-gone-Michael Bay schtick sounds pretty obnoxious and overbearing to me, I’m at least sympathetic to the idea that a bunch of crazy amped-up 20-year-olds could enjoy it. Lord knows that at that age, me getting into that newfangled “electronica” stuff meant getting into acts that purists hated themselves (the Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim got so much shit!), not to mention getting into stuff that wound up embarrassing me not five years later (remember Pitchshifter?). And execution notwithstanding, the principle of the thing — “bad synths, corny Jamaican sound and lyric references, Romantic piano melodies, chipmunk vocals, and blow-this-shirt-to-shreds action-film sound effects” — is all right by me.
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- blarghhh said: yeah ok right it’s pretty punk. but it’s still shit. guess punk doesn’t = awesome all of the time
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