With his chunky black glasses and asymmetrical haircut, Skrillex is the most famous face of today’s EDM movement. Since leaving the screamo band From First to Last in 2007 and reinventing himself as a beat-slinging, bass-dropping, party-rocking producer and DJ, California native Sonny Moore has been at the forefront of the electronic boom. Over the course of six EPs, one studio album, and countless remixes and collaborations, he’s earned six Grammys and made dubstep a household word. He’s also helped to take club music to the arena, proving that dudes with laptops can rock out just like guitar players.
Like any genre figurehead, Skrillex has faced his share of criticism, though for every hater who labels his bold, skittering, sometimes abrasive sounds as “brostep” — essentially dance music for frat boys — there are thousands of fans that have had their minds blown by his glitch-tastic records and spectacular stage shows.
Skrillex’s live skills will be on display when he joins Nicki Minaj, the Weeknd, Justin Bieber (his recent collaborator on the hit Jack Ü single “Where Are U Now”) and more at Billboard’s inaugural Hot 100 Festival at New York’s Nikon at Jones Beach Theater. Before the beats start to drop, take a look back at Skrillex’s most priceless moments and revisit the events that made him the king of dance music’s ever-growing empire.
June 7, 2010: Sonny Moore launches his EDM career with the My Name Is Skrillex EP. With his emo days behind him, Moore solidified his electro-reinvention in the summer of 2010 by making his My Name Is Skrillex EP available for free download via MySpace. It became a viral sensation and caught the ears of Canadian producer Deadmau5, who signed Skrillex to his mau5trap label and tapped the upstart to join him on tour, setting the stage for future triumphs.
Oct. 22, 2010: Skrillex returns with the breakthrough Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites. If Skrillex’s first EP positioned him to invade the mainstream with his squelchy dance jams, his second marked the moment he stormed the beach, laptop and MIDI controller in hand. Released on Deadmau5’s label, Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites reached No. 49 on the Billboard 200 and topped the Heatseekers chart.
January 2011: With his remix of Benny Benassi’s “Cinema,” Skrillex helps take dubstep global. While not a major pop smash, Moore’s reworking of Italian DJ Benny Benassi’s 2011 dance hit “Cinema” brought dubstep to festival main stages, remaining in the top 10 of the iTunes dance chart for months and earning Skrillex a Grammy for best remixed recording, non-classical.
April 2011: Skrillex makes Coachella debut, with a side of Korn. Dubstep and nu-metal are two genres you either love or hate, so it’s no wonder listeners were split on their reaction to Skrillex’s Coachella debut. Joining him for two songs were Jonathan Davis and Munky Shaffer of Korn, whose then-forthcoming album The Path of Totality he helped to produce. One of the tunes, “Get Up,” hit No. 10 on the Mainstream Rock chart, further growing Moore’s audience.
June 2, 2011: Skrillex drops remix EP More Monsters and Sprites, which climbs to No. 5 on Top Electronic Albums chart. Skrillex’s run of successful EPs continued with this seven-song set, which found him dabbling in reggae with “Ruffneck (Flex)” and letting four other artists take stabs at remixing the title track from his previous EP. The record gave Skrillex his second straight top 10 entry on the Dance/Electronic Albums chart, reaching No. 5.
Aug. 17, 2011: Skrillex announces OWSLA. One major signpost of music-biz success is starting your own label, and with the launch of OWSLA, Moore made the leap from EDM upstart to entrepreneur. “Artists will be hand selected by Skrillex and the OWSLA team in an effort to unite under a cohesive theme of friendship and integrity — as well as bass,” his publicist told Billboard at the time.
Dec. 23, 2011: Skrillex breaks on through to the top 20 with Bangarang. Having already established himself as one of the biggest names in the EDM game, Skrillex worked with everyone from surviving members of The Doors to British singer (and then-girlfriend) Ellie Goulding on his fourth EP. The record topped both the Dance/Electronic Albums chart and reached an impressive No. 14 on the Billboard 200.
Jan. 15, 2012: Skrillex opens new doors with The Doors collaboration. Among the more talked-about tracks on Bangarang was “Breakn’ a Sweat,” an unlikely collaboration between Skrillex and the surviving members of The Doors. Recorded in conjunction with the documentary Re:Generation, the track was released as a single in early 2012 and featured a cameo from late Doors frontman Jim Morrison, whose voice was sampled from a ‘60s interview.
Feb. 12, 2012: Skrillex goes three for five at the Grammys. Skrillex walked away from the 54th Grammy Awards with quite a bit of hardware, nabbing best remixed recording honors for his take on Benny Benassi’s “Cinema,” as well as the best dance/electronica album prize for Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites and the best dance recording statuette for that EP’s title track. Alas, he lost best new artist to Bon Iver, but so did fellow Billboard Hot 100 Fest headliner Nicki Minaj — and both are doing just fine.
Feb. 10, 2013: Skrillex notches repeat victories in all three Grammy categories. Another year, another set of gramophone statuettes for best dance recording, best dance/electronica album, and best remixed recording, non-classical. While Skrillex collected all three prizes before the Grammy telecast, his high-profile wins undoubtedly helped to heighten EDM’s profile. “It’s awesome to be part of electronic music,” he said at the ceremony, “and I’m so proud to be here today.”
Sept. 15, 2013: Skrillex and Diplo debut Jack Ü. Friends from way back, Skrillex and Diplo — the producer and Mad Decent label boss behind Major Lazer and countless collaborations with big-name artists — debuted six songs in the San Diego sunshine. It was the world’s first taste of the trap-influenced sounds the pair would explore on their full-length debut.
March 17, 2014: At long last, Skrillex makes his full-length debut with Recess. Leaked via an arcade-style videogame app called Alien Ride, Skrillex’s first proper studio album brought together dancehall acts (Ragga Twins), rappers (Fatman Scoop), fellow EDM heavies (Kill the Noise), and Jack Ü partner Diplo for a typically brash record of big hooks and booming beats. Recess reached No. 4 on the Billboard 200, Skrillex’s highest placement to date.
Oct. 11, 2014: Let’s Make a Spaceship documentary premieres at the Austin City Limits Festival. As the title suggests, the Red Bull-produced film Let’s Make a Spaceship follows Skrillex as he and his team create the elaborate Star Wars-esque centerpiece for his 2014 Mothership Tour. The 36-minute clip also shows Moore skateboarding, strumming along with Ramones tunes, and being the regular dude he is when he’s not melting minds from inside a giant spacecraft.
Feb. 27, 2015: Jack Ü surprise-release their debut, and earn another Dance Electronic Albums chart-topper for Skrillex. Midway through a 24-hour online DJ set allegedly shut down by the cops, Skrillex and Diplo dropped Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack Ü, a 10-song set featuring the likes of rapper 2 Chainz, U.K. synth-poppers AlunaGeorge, and Justin Bieber, who features on “Where Are U Now?” The Biebs tune climbed to No. 8 on the Hot 100, marking Skrillex’s first top 40 hit and something of a comeback for the Canadian pop star.
March 29, 2015: Diddy, Diplo, and the Biebs join Skrillex at Ultra 2015. By the time Skrillex took the stage to close Ultra 2015, the Miami festival had already been a cameo-packed affair. The day before, Usher performed with Martin Garrix, and hours earlier, Ariana Grande hit the stage with Cashmere Cat. Skrillex, however, took things to the next level, enlisting Jack Ü partner Diplo, a bucket-hat-rocking Diddy, and Justin Bieber, among others, to help him end the weekend with a bang.
Buy tickets for Billbaord’s Hot 100 Fest, featuring Nicki Minaj and more, at ticketmaster.com.