So there I was the other week dragged to a club by family and friends, feeling entirely old and out-of-place, when I found myself holding converse in a quiet corner with none other than Dave Skrill himself, singer, scratcher and multi-instrumentalist from the band Skrillex! I thought I’d share some of our conversation with you all.
Obviously, massive international pop stars are pretty rare round our way except during the X Factor auditions. Bearing this in mind I opened gently with one of my customary speculative softballs: “So, are you actually that guy out of Skrillex or do you just cosplay as him?”
“Nah mate, it’s definitely me,” he said, adjusting his snooker player spectacles, “Ask me anything!”
Well, my knowledge of the music of Dave Skrill And The Skrillettes is seriously limited. I once clicked on what I thought was a chiptune Bowie cover album on YouTube but played through my PC’s internal speakers turned out to be some decent enough but unremarkable glitch tunes. Anyhow, through cultural osmosis and the longevity of dead trends I do know one fact about our mutual friend.
“Is that right that your favourite Aphex Twin track is ‘Flim‘?” I asked him.
“Yeah,” he said, as he stirred what looked like spaghetti in a tall glass, “It’s pretty obscure, you probably haven’t heard of it.”
“I did have to Google,” I admitted, eyeing his clear beverage with clear concern, “Luckily it wasn’t one of those unpronouncable ones with a bunch of untypable Unicode symbols. B-side to ‘Come To Daddy’, yeah? Knew it once I heard it.”
“Really?” he said, sounding more surprised than sarcastic. With that I warmed to him and my subject. Chatting with stadium-stars is easier than with real people, I thought.
“Do you have any other favourite tunes?”
He fished a long strand of spaghetti out of his glass, threaded it practicedly through the gauge in the ear of the person sat next to him, leaned in and snorted the end hard.
I shook my head.
“I love that one by Nirvana, ‘Aneurysm‘?” he said.
“From Incesticide, yeah, I love that too. It’s really cool!” I exclaimed, transported back to my youth.
“Nah mate,” said the Skrillmeister, still sounding disconcertingly more Estuary English than I’d imagined him, “It’s on the ‘…Teen Spirit’ CD.”
I nodded “That’s the other version, isn’t it? Also released on the Aussie import Hoarmoaning, which collected Nevermind‘s B-sides. I only know because someone I knew had that, she proper loved it. Is grunge your thing then?”
“Not really,” he said, pinching the bridge of his nose as if in momentary pain, “I do know all about it though. I love ‘Kickstand’ by Soundgarden. That’s my favourite.”
“All of Superunknown‘s great, isn’t it?” I agreed, “You always forget how good it is until you go back to it.”
He looked at me strangely. “Kickstand‘s really a live song, you should hear the version on…”
“…the ‘Black Hole Sun’ single?” I guessed.
He beamed at me, all teeth and metal, like Ned’s Atomic Dusty Bin, “Yeah! You really know your stuff too.”
“I… guess I do,” I replied.
The conversation having reached a lull, Dave Skrill produced a battered Nick Hornby novel from I-know-not-where, tore out several pages and proceeded to roll some sort of cigarette with it.
“Just so long as it’s not Trainspotting, eh?” I said, glad of a way back into the conversation, “Or, um, I dunno, Prozac Nation?”
“I only smoke stuff from the ’90s,” he said slightly apologetically.
“Oh,” I said.
“What about other music from back then?” I asked him, “I always say Papa Roach‘s one redeeming feature is that they liked Faith No More.”
“Eff-Enn-Emm are awesome,” said The Skrillshot, “Really diverse, agressive sound. I’m blown away by that song of theirs: Bee-Eee, Eyy-Gee-Gee….”
He stopped, lost in thought for a second. Unable to help myself I stepped in.
“Came out as a double-A side with ‘I’m Easy’. If I didn’t know better I’d think you’d been at my old record collection.”
He leaned in confidentially, his eyes slightly glazed.
“The only time I’m easy is…”
“When you’re ‘Skrilled By Death’?” I said, never one to miss a cue.
He shook his head twice. Once in negation; once as though grasping for clarity.
“No, man, Sunday morning.”
He leaned back.
“Faith No More do do a good line in covers,” I said, “‘War Pigs’, obviously. Then there’s that Bee Gees one, ‘I Started A Joke’.”
“Actually, their other singles are a bit mainstream for me,” he said, skrilling me softly.
“I’d forgotten it was re-released as a single,” I said, kicking myself, “It was just the B-side of ‘Digging The Grave’ or something originally. I’m getting as bad as you.”
He looked at me quizzically, “Sorry?”
“Umm, doesn’t matter. Did you know it was a Bee Gees cover?”.
I took a deep breath. “I can do this,” I thought. “They’re pretty obscure, you probably haven’t heard of them.”
He gave me a look that spoke volumes. “Can you grab me something from behind the bar?” he asked, “Just say it’s for me, they’ll know.”
“Yeah sure,” I said, despite feeling a little uncertain by this point. I made my way out of our quiet cubby-hole through the untz-untz-untz. A little shouting and some hand gestures procured me a large something from the black-clad, surprisingly-unpierced person behind the bar. I wove back through the crowd, now dancing to sirens, breakbeats and brutal banjo.
I sat back down and handed what appeared to be a large jar of pickled gherkins to Half-Shaved Dave.
“Other side, love,” she said, “I’m one of them cosplayers! The Skriller by me is the Skriller with you.”
“Sorry, easy mistake,” I said, handing them to the right person.
My Skrillex took the lid off the gherkins, poured something into them and sloshed the mixture round before taking a large swig.
“Should you be drinking that? I always thought you were straight-edge for some reason,” I said.
“F*ck you, I won’t do what you tell me!” he laughed.
“Rage Against The Machine‘s big hit,” I couldn’t help noting.
“Casuals just recognise the ‘Eff you’ bit”, he said, oblivious to my sarcasm, “A lot of people don’t realise it’s called ‘Killing In The Name Of’.”
“Tom and Zach for two,” I nodded sagely.
The music in the club went dramatically silent.
“Have they finished already?”
“Nah, just waiting for the drop.”
“I’m half expecting Davina to announce who’s been evicted from Big Brother,” I said, looking round at the dancefloor where everyone was frozen in place, “Are you sure something hasn’t gone wrong?”
“It’s fine, it’ll be back in a minute, you just don’t get it.”
I started counting, but only got to five before there was a sound like a scratched record and the throbbing bass was back.
The Lady Skrillex next to us leapt up, headed for the dancefloor, “Come on, die young!” she shouted.
I gazed out at the diabolical swarming mass of sweaty Hieronymus Goths, wondering how I got here.
“I think maybe I did,” I said.
I turned my attention back to Dave Skrill as he took one last hit off his gherkins.
“Don’t you listen to any electronic/dance/industrial type stuff from, er, back-in-the-day?” I said, hating myself as the phrase escaped my lips.
He swallowed and nodded.
“I’ve got this super-rare Electronica compilation, with The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers and Future Sound Of London on it. The back of the CD is black, so it must be ultra limited edition or something. My favourite is the first track, eight minutes of all these high pitched noises and stuff, you’ve gotta have the right set-up though, I’ve blown so many speakers trying to listen to it loud.”
“Yeah, that’s it!”
“What about Nine Inch Nails?” I asked, morbidly fascinated by this point.
“I really dig ‘Memorabilia’, off Closer To God.”
“Makes sense,” I couldn’t contain myself any longer, “You know half this stuff isn’t actually that obscure, right? I mean, I probably thought it was too, when I was your age. Most of these ended up on the album re-releases for people who didn’t hear it on the B-side of the band’s biggest single anyway.”
“Wait… have you been taking the mickey this whole time?” he said sounding like I’d made him hurt.
“Sorry, I thought we both were,” I said, “Especially when you made a Camberwell Carrot out of High Fidelity.”
S-Express looked at the Apple WATCH tattooed on the inside of his wrist.
“It’s probably time for you to get going, I’m up to DJ in a minute anyway,” he said.
“Well,” I said, getting up to leave, “I can’t honestly say I understand you, your subbacultcha or your music any better than I did before, but I’m glad we got a chance to do this.”
“Love you, Dad!” probably-not-Skrillex called after me.
“I know,” I sighed.
This piece is entirely fiction. Skrillex doesn’t do any of the things attributed above to his doppelganger except like ‘Flim’.