Billboard Magazine Covers 2012
Diplo, Skrillex, A-Trak
February 11, 2012


The three guys stand shoulder to shoulder, backs to the wall, attempting to balance their varying heights with staggered stances.

Diplo is the tallest and most camera-trained, tilting his head and adjusting his hot-professor glasses. He has, after all, modeled for a GQ magazine spread, making multicolor turtlenecks look somehow hip. "EDM!" he shouts, in place of "cheese."

A-Trak sports his trademark short-brim hat with a waist-tied gingham button-down, and looks into the camera with purpose and patience. His pose belies the practical joke of his Grammy Award-nominated hit, "Barbra Streisand"-and the fact that he just returned from a shoot with the ladies of Sports Illustrated for its storied swimsuit issue.

And then there's Skrillex. Short but not slight, Sonny Moore is a study in monochrome, pale skin playing off the pitch black of his hair, slouchy clothes and skinny satin tie. ("I'm going to steal this fancy tie!" he'd tweet later.) He dutifully keeps his chin up, craning to get his full face into the same stripe of light cast over that of his photo mates and friends.

There aren't any hustling assistants trying to fulfill extreme riders. No one retreats to a side room in a huff, or crowds the photographer to critique shots. The trio seems more concerned with finding the espresso machine and discussing MegaUpload's demise."I just bought a premium to that thing," Skrillex says. But despite the lack of pomp, inside the room stand three of the most powerful -- and arguably, revolutionary -- figures to hit pop culture in years, let alone the music business. They've come to liberate fans and artists from hierarchy, conformity and general boringness.

"I know one thing -- the major labels, the A&Rs, are very frightened now," says Diplo, born Wesley Pentz. "They see that things are in our hands in a lot of ways."

"It's a time where all of us are able to rewrite the rules," says A-Trak, aka Montreal-born Alain Macklovitch. "Not to sound too cocky, but it's like there are no more rules. There is a captive audience, and it's hungry. It's our time to be creative in how we feed it."

Next: How Skrillex, Diplo & A-Trak Stepped Into the Spotlight