Sonny Moore, the superstar DJ better known as Skrillex, hasn’t been able to get much sleep lately.
The six-time Grammy winner has been spending most of his nights creating new tracks and remixing old ones for his upcoming massive annual North American Mothership tour, which touches down at Toronto’s Echo Beach May 30 and 31 for its lone Canadian stops.
“I’m always working on stuff,” Skrillex says, laughing over the phone from his Los Angeles home. “I was working on sounds for the dinobots in the new Transformers movie last night, and tonight I’m working on tracks for the tour.”
Often times referred to as the founder of electronic dance music (EDM) in North America, Skrillex has spent the past six years buried under work, touring the world with friends, and revitalizing a scene that had all but become extinct a decade ago.
Along the way, he has released a batch of EPs, become a Las Vegas staple and dropped his first full-length studio LP, Recess, earlier this year.
“I don’t think I created the scene, I think I was doing something different,” Skrillex explains. “People caught wind of what I was doing and created this kind of crazy dance culture in the U.S.”
Today’s dance culture, one that seemingly blossomed out of nowhere, is one Skrillex is proud to be a part of, adding it’s the almost intimate relationship between DJs and fans that has allowed it to develop into the scene it is today.
“Even though EDM is still one of the biggest things right now, it’s still not as chart topping as rap or country or pop music. It’s still underground to some extent, and it only continues to thrive because dance music has such a direct connection to its audience.”
As thriving as it may be, Skrillex is the first to admit there are problems within the subculture, resulting from the drug use that has grown within the scene, but insists the problem is dwindling down as the crowds become cleaner and more aware.
“The tragedies that get reported are within a minority of shows, and although those are tragic and shouldn’t be overlooked, you can’t blame an idea for how a culture has taken it and run with it.”
Threats of banning “all ages raves” and, in some cases, entire electronic sets, have been proposed by a couple of cities, including Toronto, after deaths caused by overdoses began to occur at shows.
In some U.S. cities, like Miami, the concern that more teenagers would OD on party drugs like MDMA led to a statewide ban of raves and popular EDM festivals.
“In Miami, they tried to ban Ultra [Music Festival]. I’ve been going to Ultra for six years, and over the past few years, the crowds have changed. Three years ago it was like zombies, but nowadays it’s a cleaner crowd. People are just there for dancing,” he says.
For Skrillex, the Mothership tour in particular has become a stress-free annual gathering of his closest friends, and a chance to hang out with some of his biggest fans.
“The great thing about these tours is it’s handpicked. I get to choose who comes with us. There’s no behind-the-doors bulls--- you usually have to deal with,” Skrillex says.
“Music for us is just fun. If we didn’t love what we do, we wouldn’t do it, but it’s in our blood. We’re very much a part of the scene that we helped create. How cool is that?”