The TONY guide to brostep

Get up to speed on the newest trend in aggro electronica.


Skrillex Photograph: Bruno Postigo

American dance music has found an unlikely champion in Sonny Moore, a hyperactive, floppy-haired Los Angeles producer who once fronted the screamo band From First to Last and now records electronic music under the name Skrillex. Moore brings his scenester sensibilities to the Skrillex name, incorporating the aggressive, maximalist tendencies present in FFtL and repackaging the U.K.'s dubstep sound in a way that makes sense to American fans. His music—and that of his legions of peers—has earned the label "brostep," a snarky jab at its masculine streak. But what is brostep exactly? How is it different from just plain old dubstep? In light of Moore's upcoming New York dates, we hereby present the TONY guide to brostep.

  Dubstep   Brostep

Notable practitioners James Blake, Mount Kimbie, Burial, Jamie xx, SBTRKT, Zomby Skrillex, Rusko, Flux Pavilion, 12th Planet, Kill the Noise

Musical signifiers Ethereal samples punctuated by sporadic bass stabs, held together by a 140bpm dance beat. Ultracaffeinated beats punctuated by bass "drops" that more or less sound like someone yelling the word wow.

A typical song sounds like... Soft tears running down a heartbroken robot's face. A steamroller running over the sad robot that likes dubstep.

Desired reactions Quiet contemplation, some pretty intense head-nodding if you're really into it. Slam-dancing, mosh pits, fighting everyone within a six-foot radius of you.

Finest moment Mount Kimbie, "Before I Move Off" Skrillex, "Rock n' Roll (Will Take You to the Mountain)"

Preferable listening environment Somewhere it won't be weird if you weep. Where the bros are. Probably a rave. Here, take this powder! It's awesome!

Crossover success stories Rap superstar Drake remixed SBTRKT's "Wildfire." Skrillex helped produce Korn's new album.

Explanatory quote "What is Jamie xx doing? That's my favorite guy to work with." —Drake to Stereogum "Certain producers—who I can't even be bothered naming—have definitely hit upon a sort of fratboy market where there's this machoism being reflected in the sounds and the way the music makes you feel. And to me, that is a million miles away from where dubstep started."—James Blake to The Boston Phoenix

It's the 2012 equivalent of... Circa-1997 drum 'n' bass. Circa-2007 screamo.

Skrillex plays Roseland Ballroom Fri 3 and Terminal 5 Sat 4.

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