Why Skrillex is the artist of 2023
You hear that?
That’s me admitting publicly that I’m a Skrillex fan (again). No cap. I’m a Skrillex fan again.
With Skrillex’s comeback album ‘Quest For Fire’ set to drop on Friday 17th February, now felt like the perfect time to write up why Skrillex is the artist of 2023. We’re only six weeks into the year and he’s already released five songs.
If you missed last week’s newsletter on Space Miami residents Miguelle and Tons, click here to read it.
Welcome back Skrillex
I wanted to start with this Twitter thread from Skrillex himself on his 35th birthday.
I don’t think I need to write much about them. They speak for themself.
Skrillex, Fred again.., Flowdan - Rumble
You hear that?
That’s Skrillex, Fred again.. and Four Tet selling out three unannounced London shows with ease through their Instagram stories as the most anticipated release of 2022 ‘Rumble’ finally dropped on 4th January 2023.
Now if you think the shows were booked on the day, you are very naive. This is the live music industry. Everything is planned months in advance. Fans have no idea. That’s why they react as they do. That’s how this shit works. Just because the venues were booked in advance, does not take anything away from the way these three artists executed this.
So what did they do? How did all of this happen?
It all started with Skrillex joining Fred again and Four Tet in London, the day or the day after they announced Rumble would drop on January 4th.
They jammed on a piano and a CDJ while experimenting with Flowdan’s vocals live on Instagram. All three of them shared short clips to their IG stories. Skrillex and Fred vented their frustration that “they wished they had a venue to play in”. Four Tet played along as the videographer of the group.
The next day a venue in Camden was announced while Fred was sound checking. All it took was for them to say: “We’ve got a venue”. It sold out in minutes while Skrillex was still asleep jet-lagged. After the first one, the internet went crazy when they announced they would be doing it again the following night (Friday) at Brixton Academy.
The second event sold out in minutes as fans of all three artists on TikTok, Instagram, Twitter and Discord did their marketing for them. The third show (Saturday) followed, selling out again. Flowdan joined them live to perform ‘Rumble’.
While all this was happening, Rumble’s streams were scaling dramatically. Rumble is only 2 minutes and 26 seconds long. Within three days, it had over SIX million streams. Skrillex even had time to do a guest mix on BBC Radio 1 pushing Rumble further into the mainstream.
My personal highlight from this campaign is this video from jungle OG David ‘RamJam’ Rodigan gushing over its production on Instagram. 😮💨💦
To be fair to him, he’s a little old for TikTok.
Now, this campaign didn’t start in January. It started all the way back in July when Fred again.. premiered ‘Rumble’ on Boiler Room. Skrillex shared a clip on his Instagram. TikTok went crazyyyyy. The England football team even used Rumble as the soundtrack of a TikTok on the morning of their first game in the 2022 World Cup.
You know it’s elite marketing when friends are texting me telling me that I need to write about it on The Blueprint 😉
What did Skrillex do next?
Most artists would wait to drop new music, right? Not Skrillex. Skrillex dropped another song on January 8th. That’s right. January 8th. Four days after Rumble. ‘Way Back’ featuring Trippie Red and Pink Pantheress was dropped in all three of the four-hour b2b sets. Skrillex had a prime audience to drop it to. He used ‘Way Back’ as the soundtrack to the after-movie of the last few days in London. The caption of the after-movie was the lyric from the song. Gold moment layered on top of the gold moment.
More singles followed…You would think maybe Skrillex and the labels at OWSLA and Atlantic Records would let these tracks breathe. Nah, Skrillex followed up ‘Way Back’ with ‘Leave Me Like This’ 10 days later on January 18th. ‘Real Spring’ dropped on January 26th. ‘Xena’ on February 2nd.
That’s five singles in five weeks…
When you have an audience the size of Skrillex (11 million on IG, 22 million on YouTube and half a mil on TikTok) you can do whatever you want. His fans are so on board with his return they want new music on tap. Tracks from his new album “Quest For Fire” have over 50 million streams on Spotify from single releases and it’s not even out in full yet.
But he’s not done there. This week is release week. To build even more hype, Skrillex dropped a live stream of unreleased tracks from a basement on his YouTube channel on Monday and a new single ‘Don’t Get Too Close‘ last night.
Now we need to talk about this live stream.
It’s recorded in a basement. It starts off looking very low-budget. A few seconds in, the lights drop. Skrillex is bouncing around the basement to Rumble. The stream is only 25 minutes long. It’s high-energy and engaging. I’ve watched it three times and I’m blown away by the camera work, the lighting and the track ‘Leave Me Like This’ at 16 minutes. OH MY GOD, what an anthem! (If you didn’t get the ‘Scary monsters and nice Sprites’ reference, you can leave 😉)
See you next week.
Andrew at Socially Sound 🧢