Travis Scott & Skrillex Talk 'SICKO MODE (Remix)' & Why Their Collaboration Felt Like 'A Movie': Exclusive
This was a banner year for Travis Scott. Not only did he thrash the competition with his ambitious album Astroworld, which sold a whopping 537,000 equivalent album units its opening week. But he also secured his second No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Backed by his entrancing single "SICKO MODE," Scott has galloped his way into the No. 2 spot on the Hot 100, and is hoping to usurp Ariana Grande's "Thank U, Next" for the top spot.
While some may consider "SICKO MODE" a shambolic song due to its unconventional structure, for Scott it's his version of a thrilling roller coaster ride packed with exciting peaks and unexpected turns. The three-layered track first finds Travis' co-star Drake tantalizing fans with a promising intro over Rogét Chahayed and Hit-Boy's menacing beat. Though Scott is sandwiched in-between Drake and the producers' blistering connection, the Houston native takes pride in being the glue and shines on the second track, before allowing the 6 God to tap back in with Tay-Keith and sprint his way towards the finish-line.
Since its August release, "SICKO MODE" has ripped its way into the conversation for song of the year and on Tuesday night (Nov. 27) earned the remix treatment, courtesy of EDM savant Skrillex. "For me, it's rare when I do a remix, but it's rarer when I'm in love with certain elements," Skrillex told Billboard of his earth-rattling rendition. "It's a tough song to remix you know? There's already three different songs in one song and then me putting a couple of extra layers on it, is all about doing it justice in my own eyes, ultimately."
What started as a playful session in the studio morphed intro an ear-splitting banger for Skrillex and Scott, who now has an extra record to dish out while continuing his Astroworld Tour. "From my end, I saw a little video of him fucking around with it in the studio. I was like, 'Damn, this shit is fire.' I didn't even know if he was going to drop it or not," Scott shares with Billboard.
On Wednesday (Nov. 28), Billboard caught up with both Scott and Skrillex to speak on their colossal remix, what makes "SICKO MODE" a "movie," the biggest challenge the DJ faced while making his version and more. Check it out below.
Travis, when did you become a fan of Skrillex? Was it through a song or a set of his?
Scott: Man, I mean, shit, maybe like a couple of years ago. This was maybe before I was on and when shit was going well for him. I just feel like a lot of his shows are on some real dark, ill shit. His music is like real intense. That was when I first got into him.
What about you, Skrillex? Was it a song, album or performance of Travis' that made you a fan?
Skrillex: For me, the first memory I have of Travis was actually at the Mad Decent Boat Party [in 2014]. You remember when you came on?
Scott: Oh yeah, I remember. [Laughs]
Skrillex: I don't even remember what album you had back then but a lot of those kids didn't even know who you were. You just completely won the crowd over. We were on the ship basically and you were like hanging on everything. It was like a rage ship and Travis was the only rapper other than Riff Raff on this boat and he just tore it up. That had to be something really new for all those kids and that's when I became a really fan, just seeing him perform.
Skrillex, can you recall the moment you first heard “SICKO MODE” and the vibe you caught from it upon listening?
Skrillex: Yeah, I do remember. I remember I actually had it on repeat when I was running -- you know, I like to run -- and I know Travis is a master producer, I know Mike Dean is a master producer and I'm a fan of their productions. That's one of my favorite productions as an original. Shout-out to Tay-Keith.
Travis, there's a lot of chatter around "SICKO MODE" potentially being song of the year. What was your mindset after you cut the record? Did you share those same sentiments?
Scott: You know, I can't ever predict what's going to be song of the year, but you know, I've always tried to make some dope ass shit. I knew it was going to be a different sounding song for people and I was hoping that they would catch up to it, fuck with it, fuck with the different style of production and how it was made up, you know?
Whose idea was it to break up the song into three different sections?
Scott: I mean, it was mine. Shit is my album, right? [Laughs].
Right, but I thought it was maybe either Hit-Boy, Tay Keith, or even a collective decision as to how the record would turn out.
Scott: But nah, with how I usually just work on my albums, like, with this one, I just tried to bring producers into my world and I generally had this kind of idea of like what I wanted to do. So I kind of like just told them what I wanted the shit to sound like, and locked in with them. Shout-out to Hit-Boy, Oz and Tay. They all came through at different times and it wasn't just like one version from me. It was like something I had and I kind of just pieced it together.
Now, how did the actual remix come about?
Scott: From my end, I heard a little video of him fucking around with it in the studio. I was like, 'Damn, this shit is fire.' I didn't even know if he was going to drop it or not.
Skrillex: I was on a tour last month in Australia and I did a little bootleg remix, just for my live set and like Travis was saying, he heard it and we were trying to connect for awhile. Thankfully, this happened to be a good way for us to connect, you know?
Skrillex, what made you decide to keep the main elements of the production side intact when you remixed the record?
Skrillex: For me, it's rare when I do a remix, but it's rarer when I'm in love with certain elements. So, I ended up kind of re-sounding some of the main elements, because I wanted to take it on kind of a journey and take it to new places after about halfway. But yeah, it's a tough song to remix you know? Like you said, there's already three different songs in one song and then me putting a couple of extra layers on it, is all about doing it justice in my own eyes, ultimately.
Was it harder for you in terms of remixing this record as opposed to when you flipped Kendrick Lamar's "HUMBLE"?
Skrillex: I had tested a little bit of [Travis'] remix out live, right? So that's huge for me. I play of a lot of my demos during my set all the time. I don't sit there and announce on the mic the song, I just like to play it because you get a real reaction from the crowd that way. So I just base a lot of it on how I feel when I play it and yeah, it just feels nice, man. It feels like a movie or an event. I mean, the song is already a movie, you know? It's like the Astroworld Carnival is happening in a whole other parallel universe or something like that.
Skrillex said it perfectly when he said "SICKO MODE" is a movie within itself. So Travis, from your point of view, was there pressure in terms of doing a remix since the original is so damn good?
Scott: I mean, yeah, but in this case, it was a different push for me because I liked the level of production 'cause I'm on this tour right now, but with the original, I love performing the record. I love performing it towards the end of the set. It's crazy. I love performing that song because it gets so fucking crazy!
Skrillex: I also wanna add to what you were asking to Travis, too. When it comes to a remix especially a song like "Sicko Mode" or "HUMBLE.," you can't always please everyone with a remix. There's always going to be the original, but that goes with the challenge that I always love to take, I love taking on the hardest challenges, especially with a short amount of time to see what I can do, you know? With that, you get left with these moments and these moments in time that people will get to look back and remember, saying: 'Man, what the fuck happened then?'
With this being your first collaboration together, have you guys already discussed doing some more records down the line when it comes to original content?
Scott: Hell yeah! He was playing me some beats and that shit was crazy.
Skrillex: When we were kicking it and working a little bit on the remix, we were kind of hanging out in the studio and I ended up playing him a ton of more beats. I like taking in everything organic and making everything natural. Doing something together in the future is definitely on the horizon, you know? It's a vibe for sure.
Travis, the streets are saying there's an extended version of Drake's first part on "SICKO MODE" floating around. Is that true and if so, would you consider letting that out for the fans?
Scott: [Laughs] With me, I'm always up to something. I don't like giving out surprises, you know what I mean? But I'm out here and I'm plotting. Fans love the original "SICKO MODE" and [Drake] and I were going at it. But I don't wanna let too much info out, but we always keep fans in mind. Who knows? I can't say you know, but we might have something. I don't know. [Laughs]