Skrillex goes for broke on tour
Skrillex, aka: Sonny Moore. (Handout)
Skrillex is letting fans take him for a ride.
As he prepares to rail across the country with his Full Flex Express Tour — an homage to the famed 1970 Canadian train tour by Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, The Band and others — the globetrotting DJ already believes it's going to end as the original did: In the red.
And he couldn't care less.
"I'm making no money on this tour," claims Skrillex — born Sonny Moore — in an exclusive national interview. "I'm losing money to do it. I'm doing it because it's just a fun thing to do.
"I saw the Festival Express movie, and there was also the (Railroad Revival Tour with Edward Sharpe, Mumford & Sons and others) last year.
Both of those inspired us to do something similar. And if you want to do that — if you want the right artists and the right vibe and the right time and the right experience, this is what it takes. And this is what it costs.
"But it's not about money. You've got to look at the bigger picture.
It's about doing something fun and creating something that's cool and giving people something to look forward to and making people happy. I can make money in other ways. I can fly around with a backpack and make so much money."
Especially now. In the past six months, Moore has gone from electronic dance music cult hero to bona fide star. He was up for five Grammys (including Best New Artist) this year and won three in the Dance and Remix categories. He has remixed everyone from Lady Gaga to Rob Zombie and Korn. His distinctive mug — characterized by his half-shaved noggin and oversize glasses — has graced the cover of Rolling Stone.
His girlfriend is British singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding. Not bad for a 24-year-old ex-punk singer who was broke and homeless a couple of years ago — and who still hasn't released a proper album.
Clearly, the fiercely independent Moore dances to his own beat. And during a typically hectic day in Vienna — "I'm doing this film stuff and sending a ton of emails and I just got out of the shower and rushed down to the car and now I'm on the phone with you" — he explained himself. Here's what you need to know about his philosophy, his music and the Full Flex Express, which hits six cities this month with a cast of like-minded electronic dance music stars including Pretty Lights, Diplo, Grimes, Hundred Waters, KOAN Sound & Tokimonsta.
1 | Since the Grammys, life has changed — and stayed the same.
"There's stuff that feels the same, you know. And stuff that seems a bit different. I guess the main thing I've noticed is the vastness of who and where this reaches out to now; the amount of people that know about it now. So you have a lot of different influences and opinions and things coming at you from all different directions. But I just try to do the same things I've always done — make music and work really hard. I don't sleep much more than a couple of hours a night. There's a ton of stuff I want to do. And it takes a lot of work to do it. And I like to work hard."
2 | He wants the Full Flex Express to be a trip for everyone.
"I don't think there's ever been anything like this before, what we're doing with the festival and the site and the actual lineup. I think the experience is going to be crazy. The first few artists will be playing on big art cars that have Funktion One (sound) rigs on them.
They'll be going back and forth in one area. Then around sundown, we're going to light torches and open a second area. It's just going to be this whole linear experience. The whole idea is to move from place to place during the festival. And I handpicked the lineup so you always have the vibe you want to get to the next level, and the next level.”
3 | Getting there will be half the fun.
"We have a studio car. And we're all musicians. So we're just going to be jamming and listening to music, getting to know one another, connecting and building the community of the Full Flex Express. That was part of the Festival Express. And I like the idea of that. When you build strong relationships and community with other artists, it can really open up other doors. it will be a lot of fun at the end of the day. I wish we had a bigger train. That's next year. If we do well, we can get a bigger train, and expand and do stuff. But for now we're punk-rocking it, you know.”
4 | It's all about connections.
"I just want to build a music community. That's the one thing that really gets me up in the morning. You have so much going on with the music business and industry that compromises what art is. I just love the integrity of people getting together because they want to get together — without this bottom line and without trying to be as big as you can be just for the sake of it, or trying to monopolize everything. That's what destroys art and destroys movements. But it doesn't have to be that way. I want to get together with independent artists, with people that are free thinkers and forward thinkers, people that can raise their own flags and declare their own independence but still keep community. That's what I want to do.
That's my whole goal.”
5 | He feels no pressure to release an album.
"I've released almost 40 tracks in the last two years. The normal consumer might think an album is protocol. But for most of my fans, they just go online and get songs. And they have a lot of material they can sit on for a while. So asking me about an an album is kind of like asking a painter that's been doing smaller paintings if he should do a bigger painting. It has to be the right painting and you have to be ready to do it. I would like to do an album, for sure. But I don't want to do anything just for the sake of doing it.”
6 | He's still basically homeless.
"My Grammys are actually at my manager's house because I don't have a place yet. It's funny; at the end of this year, I will have literally been living in hotels for two years. But by the end of the summer, I'll be getting into my first place and I'll be able to put them somewhere. And I'm going to take some time off of the road. I'm really looking forward to it. I really wanna have my own place and make music in a studio and try new things. That's why it's not discouraging at the moment, the fact that I'm working so hard and not sleeping. It's all going toward something.”
Skrillex's Full Flex Express Tour
Featuring Pretty Lights, Diplo, Grimes, KOAN Sound & Tokimonsta.
July 13 | Toronto | Fort York
July 14 | Ottawa | Blues Fest
July 15 | Montreal | Parc Jean Drapeau
July 18 | Winnipeg | Shaw Park
July 20 | Edmonton | Kinsmen Park
July 22 | Vancouver | PNE Coliseum