SKRILLEX (Sonny Moore):

After moving from the rock and hardcore end of the spectrum, Sonny Moore signed to Big Beat Records, a division of the Warner Music Group, owned by Universal. He then moved to another label, setting up his own label called OWSLA. He performs under the pseudonym ‘Skrillex’. Critically acclaimed for his EP’s, ‘My Name Is Skrillex’ and ‘Bangarang’ of 2010 and 2011 respectively, he performs live regularly to sell-out crowds, in clubs, bars and large venues alike. He uses many different pieces of equipment when he is playing live so that he can mix between tracks, and make the overall running of his performance very smooth and clinical. An example of his live work can be found at the following URL: ( ).


For these live performances, Skrillex uses an Apple MacBook Pro to run his DAW of choice, Ableton Live 8.3. Many other electronic performers such as Deadmau5; Darren Styles and DJ Hixxy use the same software to run the production. Skrillex himself has given interviews in which he has stated his reasons for using Ableton Live, are that it accommodates his needs very well. He preloads his songs into Ableton, having made the tracks in Logic Pro before, and mixes between tracks as he goes. He has told interviewers that he uses the ‘Massive’ synth in Logic, to create his music.

There are critics who say that Skrillex simply ‘pushes buttons and turns knobs live’, I can’t say they are far wrong, as on the face of it that is all he does. But when you look further into his performance, you can see he actually is doing something important to his tracks. He uses an M-Audio Trigger Finger to control his MIDI cues on Ableton; it allows him to entertain his audience, which is something he clearly has no trouble with, whilst ensuring a smooth running performance.

To mix his performances, he has a series of MIDI assignable faders, and volume/pan knobs on his Pioneer DJM-700-K. This is a firm favourite between many electronic performers, because of its versatility and durability; the likes of David Guetta and Avicii use the same desk in some of their performances. Skrillex uses ‘Dr.Dre Studio Beats’ for personal monitoring of his sound. He does however only use these when he really needs to concentrate on his mix.For the rest of his performance, he just listens to the sound being played to the audience. He also uses a Pioneer DDJ-ERGO-K single deck live, so that he can switch between channels, replicate the well-known ‘record scratch’ sound, and can also slow down his track, without having to worry about changing tempos in Ableton. As an audio interface for his MacBook, he uses the built in soundcard, and runs his M-Audio Trigger Finger; DDJ-ERGO-K and DJM-700-K via a FireWire or USB cable, dependent on which piece of equipment he is connecting. For connecting the equipment he uses, he has an external USB adaptor, which gives him access to a few more USB inputs, around 4 normally. He also uses a Shure SM58 microphone, connected to his mixing desk via a XLR cable, to talk to his crowd during the performance, this is a favoured microphone by many DJ’s and producers live, because of it’s ease of use, and overall durability.


Like most of the electronic music community, he uses lights to enhance his show, sometimes creating a visual on a light board behind him, to give the crowd a better experience. Strobe lighting and smoke screens are put together in a clever and complicated design. Skrillex uses the same techniques as many other electronic performers in this respect. He seems to emulate Swedish House Mafia’s strategies in this sense, and does it very well to say the least. The crowds at his shows always seem to enjoy the time they are there, and he leaves a lasting impression on people who have gone to see him. He constantly sells out the venues he is performing at.


The evolution of live technology, and electronic music as a whole, means that it is easier for electronic artists to perform live. Equipment such as the Trigger Finger, and Kaoss pads make it easy for performers to trigger, and loop aspects of their performance, to ensure the smooth running presentation that an electronic performance requires.


Skrillex has collaborated with many major musicians on his releases like Ellie Goulding; Sirah and members of ‘The Doors’. They have all had a part in the production of Skrillex music of late. However live, Skrillex rarely, if ever, collaborates. He is by himself in his set, and has no live vocals or guitars to speak of.


Although electronic performers are hailed for their music both live and in the studio, it is quite easy to criticise their performances. Skrillex is an energetic live performer, and it would be a lie to say he doesn’t make his performances unforgettable, but he really does minimal amounts actually on the stage. He dances to his music, and uses his equipment as he should be, but he already has so much pre-mixed before he gets to the stage, he really doesn’t affect the sound past fading between and stopping tracks. After watching an ‘over the shoulder’ video of him performing, in 10 minutes of his performance, he touched his mixer twice and his Trigger Finger once. If that isn’t proof that he does a small amount of mixing on stage, then there is nothing that will prove it.

When looking into the equipment Skrillex uses there is little critique that can be made. He uses Ableton Live on a MacBook Pro, and uses state of the art Pioneer and M-Audio mixers and MIDI equipment. The evolution from loop tapes, and simple decks to the current equipment has helped electronic performers greatly. Skrillex really fits the place in time he is performing; he uses state of the art equipment, and lighting available to him. An overall review of his live performances and equipment would be that he performs well, and entertains the people who go to his shows. He has a very energetic performance, and whilst he doesn’t actually do all that much at his live shows, he does make music that is increasingly infectious. People have been influenced to directly take up DJ’ing and producing the same kind of music by Skrillex. Although on stage he isn’t very productive, his production skills have been picked up by thousands, and there are a number of people breaking onto the scene because of Skrillex’s and other people like Swedish House Mafia or Avicii’s influence.