In 2014, Skrillex staged a high-octane comeback campaign, making it seem as though his brief hiatus from solo work the year before never happened. 2014 opened up with the release of Sonny’s long awaited debut full-length album, Recess, with tensions already high for what Jack Ü would soon offer at Ultra Music Festival in March. A remix EP, three countrywide tours, and a mini-documentary later, last year undoubtedly proved Skrillex’s most successful yet. With all this new material added to his catalog, it’s worth taking a look back at some of the juiciest Skrillex jams that never saw the light of day.
1. KYOTO FT. SIRAH (TRAP MIX)
Haunting piano key strokes introduce this unreleased hell-raiser as the tune winds and whirls into the build we all know. Rather than the iconic “Yo, Skrill drop it hard,” we get a quick vocal loop before a blitzing shoulder-shaker, trap-inspired rework. A quick shift in gears brings an ear-splitting change in tempo with the vicious sirens that “Kyoto” is known for. Written in honor of downtown Los Angeles’ Kyoto Grand hotel, the tune has been crowd-tested countless times, but with the original mix’s inherent versatility in a live setting, Skrill has opted to continue dropping it hard in multiple different ways without letting this edit out of his grasp.
2. BREAKN' A SWEAT (VIP)
The original cut was a crossover collaboration effort between Sonny and the remaining members of The Doors, featuring Ray Manzarek in a call-and-response showdown with Skrill just before the tune breaks. With the original mix being a cooperative split between the two parties’ evidently distinct additions, this VIP rework packs a lot more Skrillex to its punch. This VIP edit first surfaced around the time of Skrillex’s Mothership double-header at Red Rocks, shortly after Manzarek’s passing.
Perhaps the most widely known — yet altogether most elusive unreleased Skrillex track – is “Voltage.” It’s origin dates back to HARD Summer 2011, in downtown Los Angeles. At the time, it sounded as though Skrillex loaded “Cinema” onto a deck, uncharacteristically early on in the set. But then his voice piped through the microphone as he declared it time for new music. Blending one into another,it wasn’t long before “Voltage” had the entire crowd captivated. The track’s vocals are also rumored to be Sonny himself. While its playtime since then has been few and far between, the blistering dubstep track could have easily contented with “Cinema” as one of Sonny’s most celebrated weapons if it had ever made it out into the world.
4. TRUE GANGSTERS
Longtime Skrillex devotees will recognize this track from Sonny’s first Essential Mix (yes, there are two).The tune is one of Skrill’s standout tracks in his Live at Rockness set, just as his career was taking off. The track is teeth-grinding dubstep at its finest, working in aggressive sample cuts in between scorching bursts of laser flak. “True Gangsters’” lacerating frequency makes it a worthy festival weapon that had its share of live play but never surfaced as an official release.
5. HOTEL RIO
In the broad scope of unreleased, unofficial material that has slowly leaked over time onto the internet, “Hotel Rio” comes in as the list’s B-side selection. The tune is a mash-up of sorts, including two of Skrillex’s earliest hits, “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” and “My Name is Skrillex,” with slight modifications of course. A sample cropped from “Hey Sexy Lady” brings about a funky dutch-house break down with heavy electro inspirations. “Hotel Rio” still snarls and grumbles as it pieces together raw fragments of some of Skrill’s best.
6. ROCK N' ROLL (VIP)
“Rock N’ Roll” is quintessential Skrillex: it’s the stage-diving, crowd-surfing in-your-face dose of good old-fashioned rock and roll music but with a contemporary spin at the danceable 128-BPM range. This VIP edit of “Rock N’ Roll” packs in a lot more shuffle, trumping the original mix’s energy considerably. And a modified second break that alludes to a future Skrillex sound delivers the knockout hit. But if something is so good on its own, sometimes it is best left as it is.
7. I WISH YOU ALL THE LUCK IN THE WORLD
Rumored to have been a heartfelt request brought to Sonny by a friend early on in his career, “I Wish You All The Luck In The World” was made as a warm shoutout to a friend of a friend, David, who was recovering from a tough injury. Reflective of a very early Skrillex sound, the song dances around a playful electro-house melody that is carried by an uplifting personalized message to a fan in need.
8. AMPLIFIER FT. DIPLO
Now that Skrillex and Diplo have become two of the most dominant forces leading the American dance music scene, naturally a collaboration supergroup was in order. Of course, Jack Ü was born and the rest is history. But before Jack Ü stole the show and ran with it, “Amplifier” surfaced on the internet as the most underrated pre-Jack Ü material out there. The track stitches together Diplo’s affinity for dance hall-inspired moombahton with Skrill’s growling synth layers. Maybe this one was best left unreleased. The world might not have been ready three years ago.
9. BABY BOY
A thumping electro house number, “Baby Boy” ties together spastic vocal splices around an infectious, buzzing beat. The track hisses and rattles, designed to set crowds into frenzied motion. The tune, like a few others on this list predates OWSLA’s inception, and reflects a rave-inspired production style that was garnering popularity at the time.
Originally, “Puppy” was written and produced for a G-Star Raw denim commercial. The minute-long television spot doesn’t do the track justice, but since early 2013, longer versions have leaked online revealing one of Skrillex’s more explorative projects. “Puppy” is groovy yet aggressive, but unfortunately this highly underrated selection never made it past the denim advertisement.
(HONORABLE MENTION) 11. DOG BLOOD - JURASSIC
In 2013, Sonny took a year off of his solo work. Before his return to dominance at 2013’s edition of Hard Day of Dead, Skrill’s year was packed as he meticulously put together Recess, and tag-teamed the Dog Blood project with Boys Noize. The acid onslaught brought the best of Sonny and Alex in a dangerously aggressive, in-your-face way as they destroyed every venue they played between Chicago’s Lollapalooza and Tokyo. Dog Blood went silent as quickly as it came about, and a few cuts were unfortunately confined to a hard-drive somewhere, having yet to see the light of day. “Jurassic” is one of them as Skrillex and Boys Noize took fans through a nightmarish, Jurassic Park-inspired thrill ride.
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