Skrillex quietly makes his way to the stage to accept the Best Dance Recording Grammy Award for his single “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites”. The first time he makes his way to the stage he is humble. He speaks with passion about the genre of music he represents, electronic dance music, and those who have came before him within the genre “(There are)… Alot of people before who have been doing what we’re doing”, he admits. The third time he is at a loss for words and jokes with the stage band, recommending they do a jazz version of “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites”. Although his mug recently could be seen plastered all over New York’s Times Square on a massive billboard advertising The Grammy Awards, Skrillex seems easily approachable, despite such high exposure and his history making night.
Skrillex’s wins at the Grammy pre-telecast two Sundays ago was nothing short of amazing for those in the electronic dance genre. Taking home three Grammys (Best Dance Recording, Best EP for “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites”, and Best Remixed Recording for his rendition of Benny Benassi’s “Cinema”), Skrillex has won more Grammys than any electronic music artist since the academy added the category in 2005. Not only did he win big for electronic dance music, but also for his specific dance genre, Dubstep.
Dubstep, according to Wikipedia, is “ is a genre of electronic dance music that originated in South London, United Kingdom“. The article goes on to describe the sound as ”tightly coiled productions with overwhelming bass lines and reverberant drum patterns, clipped samples, and occasional vocals”. The genre has taken the mainstream by storm, with artists such as Brittany Spears and even Snoop Dogg adopting it’s grindy basslines and irregular beat patterns. (Skrillex is reportedly lined up to produce Snoop’s next album).
2011, according to Billboard Magazine was “The Year of the DJ”. Artists such as David Guetta, Deadmau5 (prounounced “Dead mouse”), and Skrillex made mainstream headlines. Even Simon Cowell is jumping on the DJ bandwagon with plans to make a new X-Factor based talent competition in which DJs compete with one another for an ultimate prize. ”DJs are the new rock stars,” Cowell says, “It feels like the right time to make this show.”
With traditionally little support from major labels, artists such as Skrillex have risen the ranks by their own merit. Billboard writer Kerri Mason describes their work and attitudes as “rallying cries… antithetical to the purist underground that birthed them as they are to the traditional industry: Mainstream acceptance is gratifying, not demeaning. Sales don’t matter; give it away… The best marketing is free. And most important: Do it yourself. Every last bit of it.”
This is certainly true of artists of the underground Electronic Dance Scene. These artists are applying “homegrown” promotional tactics to the mainstream and it is working. Call it the right thing that clicked at the right time, the results are apparent.
Skrillex himself has definitely made some waves and earned much recognition. Dubbed by Billboard as the leader of “The Dubstep Revolution”, Skrillex continues to sell out international tours. His EP “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” sold 239,000 copies and 600,000 of the title track alone, according to Soundscan. With recent collaboration with artists such as Korn and the surviving members of The Doors, Skrillex firmly has his feet planted in popular culture.
With such success, one is forced to beg the question, “What is now Pop Music?”. Dubstep and Electronic Dance Music are stretching the boundaries in terms of what the average person prefers to listen to. More and more mainstream artists are adopting the electronic format in their tracks. Dance music has historically popped up on the radar only to fade out again in lieu of the next musical fad. The next question that begs to be asked, is if this time, will it stick? Perhaps next year Grammy Dance Music categories will finally earn their time in the limelight by gaining coverage in the main Grammy Award telecast.
Contributed by CMIS Blog Editor/Staff Writer Delia Mendoza