Electronic dance music is hardly a new phenomenon. Disco harks back to the 1970s, house was birthed in Chicago clubs around the mid-'80s, as was techno in the halls of Detroit. Electronica was the term du jour throughout the 1990s as the lines between rock, hip-hop and synthetic beats became blurred. UK garage, French touch, drum'n'bass and more came to add color and specificity to each electric evolution, and yet, in 2010, "EDM" felt like something entirely and excitingly brand new.
It was, in a way. There was an energy and an attitude about a new generation of producers, many of whom were inspired by the seemingly lawless creativity that new digital audio workstations, or DAWs, had granted. Any musically minded innovator with a laptop could fire up FruityLoops, Ableton or Reason and cook up the next wave. What started in bedrooms moved to living-room house parties, then underground urban movements, and eventually, music marketers caught wind of the new grooves, but it still took one man with a funny haircut to bring mainstream legitimacy to the moment, and his story was perhaps the craziest of them all.
Skrillex, born Sonny Moore, stunned dance audiences around the world with his self-released debut EP My Name Is Skrillex. He'd been the singer and songwriter for early aught screamo band From First to Last but walked away from that spotlight in search of greater creative horizons. The EP was created on his laptop while he, technically homeless, slept on his friend 12th Planet's couch. A twisted take on UK dubstep, bloghouse-inspired electro, and blistering metal sonic aesthetics, it was unbridled, unruly and entirely bold. It caught reigning it-man deadmau5' attention. A scant four months later, on Oct. 23, 2010, deadmau5's nascent label mau5trap released its follow-up, Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites. Clearly, this young kid Skrillex had more to say.