Skrillex is playing one of PAN’s parties at Berghain. Has the club sold out, or does the artist have more street cred than many recognize?
When news broke of Skrillex‘s Friday, October 27 booking at techno mecca Berghain for one of PAN Records‘ nights at the club, the worldwide underground groaned in unison. Skrillex? At Berghain?! Just the thought of it evoked images of *shudders* something that would probably end up on Instagram.
PAN is a label that famously specializes in experimental music with a range wider than one might expect to hear at Berghain. Sharing the stage with Skrillex (real name Sonny Moore) that night are Amnesia Scanner, Crystallmess, and Tsusing. Meanwhile, artists like Objekt, Yves Tumor, and label boss Bill Kouligas will play in the upstairs Panorama Bar. It’s an eclectic bunch indeed — but is including Moore a step too far towards the mainstream?
No, I would argue. Moore may have collaborated with artists like Kaskade, Diplo, and even Justin Bieber at various points throughout his career, but he still has more underground cred in his little finger than most artists ever will. Let me explain.
Moore is only associated with commercial dance music because so many artists ended up copycatting him when his star rose at the onset of the EDM boom. When he released his debut 2010 EP, My Name Is Skrillex, on Mau5trap, nothing else sounded like it. From the treacherous bass growls of “WEEKENDS!!!” to the complextro sensory overload of “Fucking Die 2,” he set new standards for sound design that influenced an entire generation of music producers.
This impact was swift, and it fostered an unsavory perception about Moore among legacy dance music tastemakers. “From my point of view, I was just experimenting and doing my thing, but then from the outside, people were like, ‘What is this crazy commercial thing?‘” Moore recounted in a 2019 interview with Dazed. “I was like, ‘Whoa, what? This is commercial?’ There was this big perception that I had this major machine behind me, pushing it to the masses. It was a major shock to me, seeing the response.”
Moore rode that wave right up to a level of success that most artists can’t even imagine. Over a decade, eight GRAMMY Awards, and countless A-list collabs later, however, he’s proven himself capable of continuing to push creative boundaries.
Last year, Moore released two albums back to back: Quest For Fire and Don’t Get Too Close. Together, they capture the complex duality that defines his body of work. The former broke new ground with novel pairings of elements common to genres like techno, house, drum and bass, breakbeat and UK garage. The latter communicated loudly and clearly that he still eschewed the pretense all too common to the underground, It mostly consisted of roughly three-minute collabs seemingly purpose built for TikTok.
So no, PAN has not sullied the sterling reputation of Berghain by booking Skrillex for its October 27th club night. Not among anyone whose opinion matters, at least. Real recognizes real, and I would venture a guess that Moore will share music that those lucky enough to find themselves on the dancefloor didn’t know they needed to hear.