How Skrillex Made Everyone Fall In Love With Post-Hardcore, Emo Music.
I’m going to go on record (it’s currently June 26, 2019) and say that Skrillex (Sonny Moore) is the Jimi Hendrix of our time…
A true master of his unique and incomparable craft (much like Jimi), Skrillex changed the face of music forever and made everyone become unwitting fans of post-hardcore, emo music.
Famous for first being the lead singer of From First to Last, a post-hardcore, emo band in the early 2000s, I first heard of Skrillex (Sonny) in an old AP Magazine article where they talked about how Sonny Moore was currently working on a new style of music that would change the music scene forever. Incredulous, I passed over the article light heartedly, but still kept the name Sonny Moore in mind.
It wasn’t until years later when I was watching a behind the scenes tour video from Of Mice & Men that I heard a tune which I just had to deep-dive the internet for in search of who the artist was. The artist? Skrillex. The Song? Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites.
Later still, I heard another tune in the trailer for Uncharted 3’s Online Multiplayer, which I (again) just had to deep dive the internet and look for. The song? Kill Everybody. The artist? Skrillex.
However, it wasn’t until much later and countless deep dives around the web that I realized Skrillex was actually the moniker for the once, Sonny Moore. Pairing two and two together, I realized that the old AP Magazine article was right! Skrillex (Sonny) had produced something that the world had never heard before. With it’s futuristic laser beams, robot noises and dancey drums, I couldn’t figure out why exactly I was so drawn to this style of music so naturally. That is, until I realized that (though I am only now just putting it down on pa…er…digital): Skrillex (Sonny) was creating post-hardcore, emo music for everyone to enjoy! Not just anti-social, pirate, screamo-fans, like myself.
Don’t believe me? Let’s break down the most iconic elements to any post-hardcore, emo song: Riffs, Interludes (also known as Breakdowns), Driving Drums, Drops, Clean Vocals, Screams, and Esoteric and Clever Song Titles and Band Names.
Riffs are those short, catchy guitar-hooks that you can’t seem to get out of your head. Listen to the opening of To Hell and Back by Blessthefall* and you’ll see what I mean.
Interludes are those pretty, soft middle-bits in between post-hardcore, emo songs that have a nice melody in order to give you a break between all of the bits of crazy. Jump to 2min 54 seconds of Reinventing Your Exit by Underoath* for a perfect example.
Ever hear a drum beat that you just couldn’t help but move to? Post-hardcore music is littered with them. Listen to Voices by Saosin* and tell me you don’t feel it.
Drops are those little “pauses” right before a heavier beat kicks back in. Listen to the intro for Don’t Jump The Shark Before You Save The Whale by Broadway* and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
This one’s pretty obvious, it’s those non-screaming bits where you find out, “hey, this vocalist actually has a pretty decent voice.” A unique balance between being a Backstreet Boy and a bonafide-screamer, Chiodos’ Craig Owns was legendary for embedding this style into Chiodos’ music. Check out Chiodos’ Intensity In Ten Cities* for a perfect example of this. (I know what you’re thinking, “but there’s no screaming in this song…” emo isn’t just about song-style, it’s also about the energy).
This is basically what post-hardcore music is built on… listen to any post-hardcore song and you’ll get some screaming out of it. One of my favourite tacks with an opening scream (because the lyrics are “I KNOW A GHOST!”) is Danger: Wildman by The Devil Wears Prada*.
Esoteric and Clever Song Titles and Band Names
This is by-far my favourite part of post-hardcore, emo music. Song Titles and Band Names in post-hardcore, emo music can be so obscure and convoluted that it can send you down a rabbit hole of trying to figure out what the Song Title and Band Name actually means. And, once you find out, you can often spend countless more hours researching the cool lore and backstory behind it. For example, here are some Song Titles that I find interesting: I Hate Buffering, Our Friend Lazarus Sleeps, The Bomb Dot Com, HTML Rules Dood, and And I Told Them I Invented Times New Roman—and here are some Band Names that I find pretty interesting as well: Pierce The Veil, Isles & Glaciers, Dance Gavin Dance, Sleeping With Sirens, Daphne Loves Derby, and Emarosa.
So, what does this all have to do with Skrillex’ music? Skrillex actually utilizes each of these elements in making his songs! Don’t believe me?
Listen to Blessthefall’s song:
Now listen to Skrillex’ song:
…and tell me you can’t see each of these elements in both of the songs: Riffs, Interludes, Driving Drums, Drops, Clean Vocals, Screams, and Esoteric and Clever Song Titles and Band Names. The only difference being that, instead of actually putting in Screams, Skrillex (so brilliantly) substituted them for robot noises, feedback and vocal mods!
But, I hear what you’re saying, “that was Skrillex’ old stuff… his new stuff isn’t like that now. How can you say that he made us all love post-hardcore, emo music when his new stuff isn’t as electronic and heavy anymore?”
In truth, Skrillex may have toned it down a bit, but each of the above mentioned elements are still there. His features are just the newest iteration of his clean vocals and the Reggaetone/Rap is just a derivative of his sound. Rather than run from it, embrace it… we all love post-hardcore, emo music now!
Here’s to the outcasts, the misfits and the rebels.
-the lost boys of ‘88.