The multifaceted producer has lately put his touch on tracks far outside the confines of electronic music.
Sonny Moore, the one-man industry better known as Skrillex, doesn’t do downtime. Even when the Los Angeles-based producer isn’t having one of his center stage years — you know, the ones in which he drops an album, plays 200-plus shows and still comes out smiling — he’s usually at work on something. Often that means simply vibing in the studio with an artist he admires, free from any need to prove himself.
This year has been one of Skrillex’s try-everything years. In January, he set the tone alongside Japanese singer-songwriter Hikaru Utada on "Face My Fears," the theme song for the new Kingdom Hearts III game. (His summary online: “I can die happy now.”) Then, turning swiftly from the console to the club, Skrillex rejoined his Dog Blood partner Boys Noize for the raucous Turn Off The Lights EP.
As 2019 rushed on, we got the slick ‘"two nights part ii," with Lykke Li and Ty Dolla $ign, and the gnarlier "WARLORDZ" with TroyBoi. Skrillex was soon back with Ty and Boys Noize for "Midnight Hour," before casually dropping his Show Tracks EP. Oh, and he also jumped on a tune with Ed Sheeran.
All this activity spells two things: Skrillex won’t rest on his laurels, and he plays very well with others. "Where Are Ü Now," his 2015 smash with Diplo and Justin Bieber, ended any argument that he’s just a dubstep maximalist. Nowadays, he’s equally comfortable guiding the world’s biggest pop stars as he is the latest recruit to his OWSLA empire.
Skrillex’s recent production credit on FKA Twigs and Future’s fall jam "Holy Terrain" adds another fascinating notch to his 2019. In fact, Skrillex has released so many collaborations in the past three years, it’s hard to keep track. To recap, here are 10 of the best Skrillex team-ups from his decade-closing hot streak.
Incubus, "No Fun" (2017)
Mike Einziger, the Incubus multi-instrumentalist and co-writer of huge hits like Avicii’s "Wake Me Up," goes back a long way with Skrillex. As Incubus neared completion on their album, 8, Einziger invited his buddy to the studio to start on a remix. Before long, Skrillex was rearranging whole songs. “The multi-million dollar console was just Sonny’s desk for his laptop,” singer Brandon Boyd told SPIN.
Skrillex took a knife to "No Fun," a song the band thought was done. By cutting the pre-chorus and adding some of his own flair, he made Incubus sound… more like Incubus. Boyd recalls his reaction to hearing ‘No Fun’ 2.0: “Damnit, you’re right. It’s better. Fuck!”
DJ Sliink, Skrillex & Wale, "Saint Laurent" (2017)
If in 2017, you were waiting for a dose of dubstep Skrillex, "Saint Laurent" was a classic side-step. Released on OWSLA at the height of summer, this team-up stayed true to the sound of Jersey Club innovator DJ Sliink. It even got Wale off his usual corner and into the club. "Saint Laurent" is still a bit of a sleeper in the Skrillex canon, but it undoubtedly bangs.
Ty Dolla $ign ft. Damian Marley & Skrillex, "So Am I" (2017)
Skrillex worked hard behind-the-scenes on Ty Dolla $ign’s second album, Beach House 3, lending his touch to several of the tracks. On second single "So Am I," the DJ got his name in boldface alongside reggae flag bearer Damian Marley. Despite its all-round chill, "So Am I" has a lot going on, with Ty playing off Marley while Skrillex breaks the loping reggae pace with processed vocal yelps. By this point, two years on from the highs of Jack Ü, Skrillex was down for whatever.
Camila Cabello, "She Loves Control" (2018)
A monster hit on the scale of Camila Cabello’s "Havana" can be a hard act to follow. Released on 2018‘s Camila, "She Loves Control" can’t claim the 1 billion Spotify plays of its album-mate, but it’s a true fan favorite (and a sure thing on her concert setlists).
A Skrillex co-production, "She Loves Control" showcases his high-sheen drum sound alongside Cabello’s commanding vocals. This is Skrillex as über-polished pop producer, and it works.
Mariah Carey feat. Ty Dolla $ign, "The Distance" (2018)
Most artists can only dream of making a 15th — yes, 15th! — album with the audacity of Mariah Carey’s Caution. The pop icon returned to the spotlight in 2018 with a coolly confident track list of should-be hits, co-produced by the likes of No I.D., Mustard, Timbaland and Blood Orange.
For "The Distance," Mariah called on Skrillex, his regular collaborator Poo Bear and the Norwegian whiz Lido. They made a savvy team, laying down a bubbly, light-footed complement to Mariah’s relaxed cooing.
For Skrillex, private jets and main stage slots are no match for the thrills of Kingdom Hearts. The game series, which features an era-hopping array of playable Disney characters, returned this year with Kingdom Hearts III. Super fan Skrillex jumped at the chance to work on the game’s theme alongside Japanese star Hikaru Utada. "Face My Fears" is full-tilt Skrillex, with maximal reverb, vocal layering and bass drops framing Utada’s bilingual lyrics. It’s a lot, but an assignment this kinetic required a lot.
Lykke Li, Skrillex & Ty Dolla $ign, "two nights part ii" (2019)
For Lykke Li's latest album, So Sad So Sexy, Skrillex was on hand for so sad cut "two nights," a slinky slow-burner with a divisive turn from rapper Amine. A year later, the producer and singer revisited the track for "two nights part ii." This version drops the Amine verse in favor of Skrillex wingman Ty Dolla $ign, who takes on some of the original’s vocal parts. It’s overall a better hang, with more distinctive input from Skrillex, who flips all those feels into something purely danceable.
Skrillex, Boys Noize & Ty Dolla $ign, "Midnight Hour" (2019)
There’s nothing unusual about the OWSLA boss getting in the studio with Boys Noize, his loyal German ally in the Dog Blood project. The same goes for Ty Dolla $ign, who looms large on this list. "Midnight Hour" has a whole lot of fun upending expectations, opening with Ty’s tender R&B croon before a whip-crack change-up at the 30-second mark. In contrast to his all-out bass mode, a la "WARLORDZ" with TroyBoi, this one jacks and weaves like, well, a Skrillex and Boys Noize mind meld.
Kelsey Lu, "Due West" (Skrillex Remix) (2019)
Kelsey Lu and Skrillex are a couple of L.A. dreamers with a lot of common ground. Given their divergent backgrounds — Skrillex in the world of post-hardcore and dubstep, Lu as a cellist and singer — they make a fascinating team.
The pair hit it off on "Due West," the lead single from Lu’s debut album, Blood. A slow and swelling ode to the promise of California, it’s the most sedate Skrillex turn in years. To even the balance, he dropped a remix of "Due West" with real spring in its step. Think Skrillex meets Majestic Casual, and you’re close.
FKA Twigs feat. Future, "Holy Terrain" (2019)
FKA Twigs set the stage for her next album, Magdalene, with two arresting singles. The first, "Cellophane," is wide-open and unadorned, foregrounding Twigs’ incredible vocal performance.
The next, "Holy Terrain," features Skrillex on an all-star production team that also includes pop guru Jack Antonoff and Young Turks recruit Koreless. Compared to the minimalism of ‘"Cellophane," this one skirts close to the club, with a skittering trap beat and perfectly in-sync vocals from Twigs and Future. While Twigs describes "Holy Terrain" as “probably the most fun” track on Magdalene, you can hear a subtler Skrillex at work in its sound design. His next moves are anyone’s guess.