Int. Zencu Sushi, downtown L.A. – day
It is two weeks before the Grammys. More than anything Skrillex has done before, his five nominations have put him on the map as a musician to be taken seriously. He appears to have very little concern for whether he wins, and doesn't even remember all the categories he's nominated in. However, there is an aspect of the awards show that's weighing much more heavily on his mind: Should he or shouldn't he take his girlfriend, Ellie Goulding?
At the Muse party, he'd made an interesting comment about her. "She's made me more secure," he said. "It's hard to explain, but I try to be less and do more."
How long ago did you meet Ellie?
Months and months ago. I sent her an e-mail, like, "I'm Skrillex. I don't know if you know who I am, but I love your shit." We started texting and talking on the phone. Just randomly, when she was in New York, she flew out to Memphis for a couple of days to see me. We're not a public thing, but I want to take her to the Grammys and have a seat for her. What do you think about shit like that? Is that cheesy?
You have to do it. She's your girlfriend.
I love her. She's my fucking girl. I definitely want to take her, but the red carpet can be weird.
Have you ever been on a red carpet before?
Not a real one. Should I do it?
I think you should do it, just to represent for the music. And if you don't do it, people think, "Oh, he thinks he's too good."
Exactly! Yeah. I don't even know what to expect. What the fuck? It's something I never expected. I thought I made it [with From First to Last], then I lost everything and went down to square one. So this is all just bonus now.
Int. Atlantic Records studio, Hollywood – evening
As soon as he walks into the studio, Skrillex mixes himself a drink and pulls his MacBook out of his backpack. He plays a track he's recording with Damian Marley and a side project with Goulding that sounds like Portishead. "It needs to go somewhere," he says, shaking his head, "and it's too pop."
He launches the program Ableton Live. Within minutes, a pretty good dubstep track begins to take shape. "I like to make structures first," he says. He then begins creating a montage of layered vocal snippets, filtered live drum samples and crowd cheers building up to the drop. "A lot of times," he says, "the drop is as good as its buildup. You have to get fucking the most intensity at the right time. That's what I've been trying to focus on more. Usually the longer the buildup, the better."
Int. the Velvet Margarita bar, Hollywood – night
Four cocktails and two shots into the evening, Skrillex suddenly turns on his barstool and asks, "Are you light-switched off or light-switched on?"
What do you mean?
"Because what's the point if there's nothing else?" he continues. Evidently, the topic is whether or not there's life after death. "If I woke up tomorrow, and I knew there was nothing else at the end, I'd think, 'Then why am I more significant than the shit she wiped off her ass this morning? Or what difference is there between me and a stuffed animal? Or what makes a serial killer or a rapist wrong?'"
These are deep questions. Worthy of only the finest margarita and highest-grade medical marijuana. He isn't religious, but he does believe in "spirit" and that "we're part of something bigger." He also, as he puts it, "likes aliens."
Skrillex moves outside, where, with two cigarettes burning in his hands, he considers his future, beyond music.
"One day, when the buzz and excitement isn't happening, I want someone to reflect with," he decides. "I'd like to have maybe two kids and adopt one. There are so many unwanted kids at age three or four. I was adopted and I love my dad, and it worked out."
He pauses and imagines the future he just described. "I don't know." He shakes his head. "I'm with a machete in the forest right now. But when I get to where I'm going, then I'll have a family." He takes a drag off his cigarette. "And I'll stop smoking cigarettes. And I'll start going to the gym and get ripped."
This story is from the March 15, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone.
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