Skrillex: the influential DJ and producer’s story in 10 tracks

Charting the key moments in the LA artist's musical journey so far, from ‘Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites’ to his long-awaited new solo album 'Quest For Fire'

In the near-decade since the release of his 2014 debut solo studio album ‘Recess’, Skrillex has gone on to co-produce a supermassive hit that’s been streamed over a billion times (more on that shortly), work with the likes of Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey, and even see one of his tracks be utilised in humanity’s ongoing war against mosquitoes. There’s never really a dull moment in Sonny Moore’s musical world.

Now aged 35, the electronic music DJ and producer (and frontman of Florida post-hardcore outfit From First To Last) is ready to release his long-awaited follow-up to ‘Recess’, titled ‘Quest For Fire’, this Friday (February 17). The guest-heavy record, which is set to feature turns from the likes of Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz, Fred again.. and Missy Elliott, will mark the beginning of the next chapter in the already remarkable Skrillex story: one that has already witnessed plenty of mega collaborations, eight Grammys and a more-than-is-healthy serving of bass, beats and big drops.

Ahead of the arrival this week of ‘Quest For Fire’, here’s 10 key tracks from the LA DJ and producer’s multi-faceted discography that help tell the Skrillex story so far.

‘Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites’ (2010)

By 2010, dubstep had punctured the mainstream thanks to the likes of Skream, Flux Pavilion and Nero. At the same time in downtown LA, Skrillex, as he told Dazed in December 2019, “was in my warehouse with some blown KRK speakers trying to make music that Flux Pavilion, 12th Planet, Bare Noize, Noisia would hopefully play in a set”. Such experiments resulted in two EPs, ‘My Name Is Skrillex’ and ‘Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites’, which put Skrillex on the map as one of dubstep’s rising new stars. The monstrous title track of the latter fared particularly well, blasting out at raves, on iPod Nanos and across sports montages for some time — as well as giving YouTuber Rachael Nedrow (AKA “speedstackinggirl”) some extra popularity.


‘Breakn’ A Sweat’ w/ The Doors (2011)

Given Skrillex’s sturdy reputation for working with a whole host of big musical names, one of his earliest collaborations still remains something of a head-scratcher. ‘Breakn’ A Sweat’ saw the producer link up with none other than the surviving members of The Doors for the soundtrack to the documentary Re:Generation Music Project. What would Jim Morrison have made of the unlikely collaboration, we hear you ask? “He’d love it. He was no purist,” Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek told Billboard in 2012. “[Morrison’s] words were his milieu. He might be, ‘Don’t fuck with my words,’ but he’d be open for all kind of improvisations. He loved that stuff.”

‘Bangarang’ w/ Sirah (2012)

With his solo career now in full swing, Skrillex ushered in 2012 with the face-melting wobble of ‘Bangarang’ from his December 2011 EP of the same name (a record he later defended as being “probably the furthest thing from brostep, because the tempos aren’t even dubstep tempos”). Featuring the vocals of rapper/singer Sirah, ‘Bangarang’ — which has racked up over 418 million Spotify streams to date — cemented its creator as a household name and earned him one of three Grammys in 2013.

‘Make It Bun Dem’ w/ Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley (2012)

While also memorably featuring in the 2012 Ubisoft game Far Cry 3, ‘Make It Bun Dem’ marked Skrillex’s first major post-‘Bangarang’ release. Originally starting life as a Skrillex instrumental, it’s said that the producer sent the beat over to Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley after adding the vocals from the Jamaican artist’s hit ‘Welcome To Jamrock’. Instead of it then being released as an official remix, however, Marley recorded a whole new set of vocals, creating ‘Make It Bun Dem’. 245 million streams later, it’s fair to say that Marley was onto something with such an idea.

‘Wild For The Night’ w/ A$AP Rocky and Birdy Nam Nam (2013)

A$AP Rocky, it would seem, has no interest in being polite to his detractors. “Middle finger to the critics,” he brazenly rapped on the Skrillex-assisted rap-meets-rave ‘Wild For The Night’, which was built around the latter’s remix of French crew Birdy Nam Nam’s ‘Goin’ In’ and featured on Rocky’s debut studio album ‘Long. Live. ASAP’. Speaking to Fuse in 2013, Rocky said of linking up with Skrillex: “He’s like me. He’s always humble… he didn’t want to be my friend because I’m A$AP Rocky, he wanted to be my friend because I was a cool cat. We didn’t want to just be predictable [with our collaboration] and do some clichéd shit just ’cause.”


‘Where Are Ü Now’ w/ Jack Ü and Justin Bieber (2015)

“We bring the best out in each other, I think,” Skrillex told NME in 2014 about working with Diplo. Commercially speaking, Skrillex’s decision to team up with his fellow DJ/producer as Jack Ü in 2013 was a masterstroke. The pair only released one album together – ‘Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack Ü’ – but its blockbuster lead single, ‘Where Are Ü Now’, certainly did the business. Featuring a reinvigorated Justin Bieber – who worked with Skrillex on his 2015 ‘Purpose’ album – the affecting ‘Where Are Ü Now’ went global, and has since been streamed over a billion times on Spotify.

‘Purple Lamborghini’ w/ Rick Ross (2016)

Yes, that really is Jared Leto as The Joker hanging out on a speedboat with Skrillex and Rick Ross in the video for ‘Purple Lamborghini’. This unlikely trio convened to promote the 2016 Suicide Squad film, with this boisterous track leading the way on the DC Comics film’s accompanying soundtrack. As well as being nominated for a Grammy in the snappily-titled Best Song Written for Visual Media category, it also marked another prosperous streaming return for Skrillex: ‘Purple Lamborghini’ has pulled in over 374 million Spotify streams at the time of writing. It’s probably all thanks to Leto’s cameo.

‘ENERGY’ – Beyoncé (2022)

Having closed out the 2010s by getting in the studio with the likes of Ed Sheeran, Incubus and The Weeknd, Skrillex continued his collaborative streak at the dawn of the new decade by producing for such artists as PinkPantheress, M.I.A. and the late Juice WRLD. Despite having such a jam-packed contacts book, though, Skrillex unsurprisingly answered the call when Beyoncé enlisted him as a contributor for her seventh LP ‘Renaissance’. Credited as a co-writer and co-producer of the melodiously lively ‘ENERGY’, this collaboration marked a major defining moment of affirmation for Skrillex’s reputation and standing within modern-day pop music.

‘Rumble’ w/ Fred again.. and Flowdan (2023)

One of Skrillex’s next moves after collaborating with the biggest artist in the world saw him take it back to the rave with Fred again.. and London MC/producer Flowdan. ‘Rumble”s juddering bass and seismic drop — coupled with Flowdan’s wonderfully sinister vocal flow (“Yo, listen: ya hear that?“) — kicked off Skrillex’s 2023 in fitting style. After its appearance in Fred again..’s infamous Boiler Room set last year, it’s clear that it will dominate dancefloors, parties and festival fields for some time to come.

‘Don’t Get Too Close’ w/ Bibi Bourelly (2023)

The aforementioned ‘Rumble’ also serves as a preview of Skrillex’s new album, which he’s been drip-feeding through the release of a select few singles over the past few weeks. With ‘Quest For Fire’ now officially imminent, Skrillex has shared ‘Don’t Get Too Close’: a mellow offering that most notably sees Skrillex — credited here under his real name, Sonny Moore — vocally duetting with German singer/songwriter Bibi Bourelly. This softer approach may come as a surprise to those who have followed Skrillex’s solo career since 2010, but then again, he’s come an awful long way since ‘Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites’.

Skrillex’s new album ‘Quest For Fire’ will be released on February 17


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