Since he stepped into the scene in 2004, Los Angeles-born DJ, singer, and songwriter Skrillex has not ceased to wow millions of fans with his unique trap and post-hardcore musical stunts. Asides his talented display, the DJ has also won the heart of his followers through his engaging social media handles, especially on Twitter, where he reaches out to millions of followers daily. If there’s anything catchy about Skrillex, it is his uncanny musical style and his non-conventional approach to music that gives his work that touch of spontaneity that most fans love. This has translated to a unique stint of variety, enabling him to touch music lovers of various genres outside his usual turf. Just how did all that begin?
The Early Life of Skrillex
Born on January 15, 1988, in the Highland Park, Sonny John Moore AKA Skrillex spent the first two years of his life in Northeast Los Angeles, before his parents moved to San Francisco. In Forest Hill, San Francisco, little Sonny lived with his parents, who were both practicing Scientologists. Being an only child, he confesses to being spoiled by his parents who spared nothing to give him all that a little boy would want.
Growing up, he attended a boarding school in the Mojave Desert in Southern California but later moved back to Northern California to be homeschooled. According to sources, the move became necessary after Sonny was confronted by one of his teachers for smoking in school, especially for someone his age. He had been smoking since he clocked fourteen. More so, Sonny had to be homeschooled over concerns ranging from bullying and unhealthy exposure to a toxic culture.
Fraught by the encounter, Sonny’s parents got to know. But the school never expected their reaction. Siding with their boy, the Moores withdrew Sonny from the boarding facility and arranged homeschooling for him instead. When his family moved back to his birthplace of Northeast Los Angeles, Sonny was enrolled in a private academy for arts. The school operated on the philosophies of Lafayette Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church of Scientology. He later dropped out of school when he turned sixteen. The reason, he says, was complicated.
All the while, Sonny believed the Moores were his biological parents. But that notion fell apart when he turned fifteen. He later discovered that he was adopted at birth by family friends of his biological parents. He also found out that his biological mother is a woman he has known to be a close family friend to his adoptive family. She often came by the house to check on him regularly. Moore’s adoptive parents gave him all he wanted growing up, but as it turns out, that did a little more harm than good as he had a hard time learning discipline and delayed gratification. The discovery of his adoption tore his world apart. In anger, he packed just a suitcase and moved over 2000 miles to Georgia. But then, the roots of music had already built up in him.
Delving into The Music Industry
As a young teenager, Skrillex began to attend punk gigs in Los Angeles, especially those held in Mexican-American areas of the city. It was within this period that he reached out to Matt Good online and asked for the opportunity to play the guitar for their band From First to Last on their debut album. In hindsight, Skrillex considers this to be his wisest move in the early days. Now in Georgia, far away from home, he met studio producers McHale Butler, Derrick Thomas, and Eric Dale, after which he was made the lead singer for the band and recorded two albums, Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has a Body Count under Epitaph Records in 2004 and Heroine in 2006.
Following the success of their debut album in June 2004, Skrillex joined the band on various tours across the United States, including the Dead by Dawn and Vans Warped tours. After these tours, the group began to record their second album, Heroine. The album was released in March 2006, and it recorded huge sales. In no time, Skrillex found himself in the middle of several successful tours. As he recalls, the energy was high, but it did not take long before he started to experience vocal problems. This made the band pull back from their tours for a while. After undergoing successful vocal surgery, Skrillex broke the news about his decision to go solo.
Skrillex’s Successful Solo Career
After he left From First to Last in 2008, Skrillex started singing and uploading his projects on Myspace. At the time, he played with a full band under Team Sleep Tour. There, he showcased several demo CDs that garnered much attention among electro music fans. In the same year, after the Alternative Press Magazine’s second annual AP Tour, Skrillex released Gypsyhook EP and went on a European tour with Innerpartysystem and Paper Route. By the following year, he started performing under the name, Sonny the Blood Monkeys. However, all that would change in 2010.
At the turn of the new decade, the young singer, who usually went by the name Twipz began to perform in several clubs in his hometown under the stage name Skrillex and released his first debut EP, My Name is Skrillex. In the months that followed, Skrillex went on a nationwide tour together with Deadmau5 and released his second EP, Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites, at the end of the year.
To this day, he considers himself a fan of Warp, an electronic music label that helped him secure several awards such as Best Dance Recording Album for Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites (2012), and Bangara in 2013. Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites was an instant hit and has been certified platinum by the RIAA. Bangarang ranked number 4 on the peak chart in Australia and has a 3-time platinum rating by RIAA.
The Awards and Recognition that Followed
As of this writing, Skrillex has released one studio album, 40 singles, six extended plays, and 23 music videos. The Record producer has gone on to clinch eight Grammy awards. They include:
- Best Dance Recording (2012), for Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites.
- Best Dance/Electronica Album (2012) for Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites.
- Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical for Benny Benassi featuring Gary Go.
- Best Dance Recording (2013) for Bangarang.
- Best Dance/Electronica (2013) for Bangarang.
- Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical (2013) for Promises (Skrillex & Nero Remix).
- Best Dance Recording (2016) for Where Are Ü Now (with Diplo and Justin Bieber).
- Best Dance/Electronic Album (2016) for Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack Ü (with Diplo).
Except for 2018 and 2019, since 2011, Skrillex has remained in the top 20 among DJ Magazine’s top 100 DJs ranking. In 2017, his Single, Purple Lamborghini, in which he featured Rick Ross was nominated for “Single of the year” at the 2017 Electronic Music Awards. In all, the DJ has received no less than twenty-three awards and nominations. All of that has surely translated into a handsome financial profile.
How Much Is He Worth Today?
As of this writing, Skrillex’s net worth stands at about $45 million. That’s no surprise at all considering that he’s one of the world’s most famous DJs today. More so, his vocals have been an immense asset to him. His album Make It Bun Dem sold a whopping 500,000 copies in its first week of release. The eight-time Grammy Award winner’s follow-up album Recess made 50,000 sales in the first week of its release.
As of 2012, the DJ was making 10 million pounds annually. Asides album sales, Skrillex also makes a fortune from invitations for shows and festivals. It’s not certain how much he charges, but industry standards reveal that getting one of the world’s best DJ on your platform costs quite a fortune.
What Makes Him So Special?
When you have a DJ like Skrillex in your show or festival, realize that it is hardly about the sound or the music he makes. It’s the personality, the charisma, and energy he brings with the music that makes it worthwhile. Skrillex isn’t just any DJ; he is known for bringing the subgenre, Dubstep, into mainstream culture. By teaming up with Canadian rapper, Justin Bieber, Skrillex added another item to his collection of electronic music called Tropical House. His blockbuster single Sorry has since passed the 2.5 billion views mark on YouTube.
On a more technical note, Skrillex uses Ableton as his choice of Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). He also deploys the Massive & Sylenth and uses the FM8 for his formant basses. The DJ has a superb knowledge of formants, and he uses that to sculpt the proper partials and harmonics quite well. Skrillex’s uniqueness is also in his sound design, especially how he automates oscillators, envelopes, and cutoffs within the synths to create the unique bass sound he uses. While the nitty-gritty of his work remains a secret, the effects are no doubt electrifying.