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15 Ways Skrillex Changed the World

How our cover star dropped in and rumbled culture


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That incandescent, pistol-spark moment in an artist's career when he or she actually steers the culture is rare, and usually fleeting. For Skrillex – the tiny, fidgety embodiment of America's electronic dance music upheaval – it's lasted longer than anyone could've predicted. As we get amped for his Rolling Stone cover and another mega-rave season, officially starting with Miami's Ultra Music Festival at the end of this month, the reign of Prince Skrillie as enigmatic, generation-defining Pied Piper continues (though a lawsuit brought against the DJ/producer by a fan over a recent stage-diving incident could be a sign that he's now viewed as more of a moneybags pop star). Before Skrills goes the way of your Fatboys and Firestarters, let's reflect on all the ways the floppy-haired imp has reshaped pop culture. By Charles Aaron

skrillex ellie goulding

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5. He was in EDM’s first tabloid-pop power couple

By dating winsome British pop star Ellie Goulding, Skrillex became EDM's first TMZ target despite having no connection whatsoever to Paris Hilton.

Porter Robinson Skrillex

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4. He’s a generous benefactor

Via his Atlantic-distributed OWLSA imprint, Skrillex has helped launch the careers of Porter Robinson, Birdy Nam Nam, Dillon Francis, Zedd, and more, giving the impression that his movement is an unstoppable force that doesn't need major-label advice to unlock millenials' wallets. The truth's knottier, but isn't it always?


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3. He makes you feel old

Perhaps Skrillex's most powerful role has been as the official Generational/Cultural Dividing Line. When his name crops up in conversation amongst, say, over-25s, it's usually someone noting how creaky and out-of-it he or she feel upon hearing his music. That effect is magnified by ten when you talk about over 35s: For them, he's the bridge too far, the line they can't cross, the signal they can't unscramble, a noisy signifier that their youth is lost forever and death is afoot. Even in the supposedly cutting-edge indie world, Skrillex elicits an immediate sweating of palms. Pitchfork first mentioned him in a 2012 live review, with writer Carrie Battan framing her experience thusly: "What I did to feel young again after Skrillex fans made me look like a crotchety old woman." Answer: "Secretly passed off my wristband (not allowed!) to a kid who hadn't been able to get into the showcase."


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2. He changed EDM’s hustle

Sure, Tiësto and other superstar DJs may make more money, but they haven't won six Grammys or scored a major motion picture (Spring Breakers) or won an Annie Award (for helping to score the animated feature Wreck-It Ralph, in which Skrillex also appeared). A punch line for many critics, Skrillex quietly has become a go-to creative.


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1. That Haircut

After bomb track "Nice Sprites and Scary Monsters," the most memorable aspect of Skrillex's ascent has been his signature coiffure – basically, buzzed off on one side with a long emo flip opposite (possibly with some sort of grid or message or tattoo adorning the shaved side). Like all enduring cultural phenomena, the Skrill cut has been roundly mocked (see the Tumblr goofs "Girls That Look Like Skrillex" and "Lesbians Who Look Like Skrillex") and widely copied (see Ellie Goulding, Rihanna, Cassie, Ke$ha, Avril Lavigne, plus various models/actresses/international It Girls). Electric Valentine (feat. Kids on Drugs) recorded a bass-squelchy dubstep track titled "Girl, You Got Skrillex Hair," and when the infamous 'do caught fire at his 25th birthday party, TMZ deemed it worthy of coverage. Feminist snark site Jezebel despairingly opined in 2012: "It seems like it's shaping up to be the hairdo of the summer despite the fact that it is totally ugly and it leaves people looking like they're recovering from a brain tumor." You were on the wrong side of this war, y'all.

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