One of the many excellent things about being Skrillex is that you can rehearse for your Coachella performance in a hotel room. Just a few days before the festival, he and Diplo – who will perform together as Jack Ü – are still figuring out most of their set, which will end up being a highlight of the weekend, complete with a Kanye West guest spot.
“If you work until the last moment,” says Skrillex, 28, “you have the best show ever.” For Skrillex, the last couple of years have been adventurous ones, as he put aside the skronky dubstep that made him famous in favor of Jack Ü’s populist bombast and an unlikely turn as a hitmaking producer for Justin Bieber. “You just gotta go on with that feeling of inspiration,” Skrillex says. “And a lot of times you end up somewhere you don’t ever expect to be.”
Doesn’t Justin Bieber seem like the kind of kid who might have tried to beat you up in high school?
I was a different kid, and, sure, I was harassed a little. But it wasn’t like I was a little bitch. I’d fight back!
Well, I did say “tried.”
I’ve always been just chameleoning around, just hanging out with different people. The hip-hop kids, the rock kids, the skaters and jocks and whoever else. I had fun with everybody.
Deadmau5 claimed that you allowed yourself to be “used as a goddamn tool” by Biebs.
If he was a real friend, he would come to me and be like, “Yo, you shouldn’t be working for Justin Bieber,” rather than blowing it up all over the Internet and going out of his way to make people feel wrong for making a choice in their life. And I would say to him, “I enjoy working with Justin Bieber!” I’m a fan of his voice. And if you’re a producer and you get an opportunity to work with someone who’s the biggest artist in the world – for better or for worse – what would you say? Would you say no?
How does your Jack Ü collaboration with Diplo work?
It changes every single day. In general, we like to take a piano or guitar and write something simple with a singer or songwriter, and then we’ll come together and figure out the production later. The idea is taking pop songs and doing something really unexpected with production and sound.
You’ve been working with rappers lately, including Rick Ross on a song for Suicide Squad. What hip-hop producers do you admire?
Timbaland is still one of my favorite producers ever, with his drums. He inspired me growing up. And the diversity of the people who he’s worked with, from fuckin’ Björk to Justin Timberlake, and even that record from what‘s his name, from Audioslave.
Chris Cornell! A lot of people think that record is garbage, though.
But it’s so much better that he made a garbage record than no record. I respect any artist for trying shit.