Skrillex (yes, that Skrillex) released his highly anticipated remix of GTA’s track with Sam Bruno titled “Red Lips” on Monday.
It’s taken a little longer than expected for the full release of Skrillex’s remix of Red Lips because the adjoining music video took several months to complete from start to finish.
Now that the remix has finally been released, the best way to sum it up is that it sounds like “Recess” and looks like a combination of Alice in Wonderland, Poltergeist and Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas.
Pitchfork had the opportunity to sit down with Skrillex to talk about the music video, and some of the resulting quotes are as enlightening as they are motivational.
The video is streamable on Apple Music and you can pick up a copy on iTunes. But for now, enjoy the interview.
What exactly is going on in this video?
“I came up with it with Grant. The first thing that went through my head when I heard the song is that it starts out kind of pretty, but still dark. It feels almost schizophrenic. The way Sam Bruno, the vocalist, delivers the song, it feels like she’s afraid of something. The idea was, what if this girl was sitting here by herself, and when the key changes in the song, the sky just went black and these creatures come out from behind and it’s this nightmare she’s running from? It’s this girl in your head, and this is what she’s seeing.”
Why did you choose to work with Grant on this project?
“To be honest, I’ve worked with a lot of great directors, but I feel Grant is someone that I am able to communicate with. It’s strange—some directors are really talented but they can be so precious when it comes to letting you be a part of it. Grant and I mesh so well on a creative level that we just came up with the concepts together, all the treatment and all the art direction that I brought to him: movies like The Cell and The Neverending Story and old science fiction films. He was just so happy to work side-by-side together, where some other people would rather do their own thing. Obviously he’s never done a bad video and he really has an awesome vision and like I said he just let me be super creative in this process. Same with “Burial”, so that’s why I chose him.”
Why did it take six months to make?
“A lot of it was just treatment. Fantasy is so hard to do when it comes to making it look good compared to something that’s a documentary or hyper-realism. When you only have a certain amount of money, shit’s gonna look really corny. Going back and forth from the budget, what we had and pulling favors—there’s a lot in that process, and it comes with factoring in your resources.
It didn’t start out as a fantasy at first. It started out a little bit more like The Shining; a woman running from someone through a house. It kept morphing and morphing, and we kept sitting on it. I think that’s what makes it special. We didn’t have a deadline where we had to put it out in a week. Sometimes a song can take up to a year to write, and because I waited that year and waited to work on it that day, it came up that extra 50 percent. We treated it like it was just an art piece that we took our time doing, and it really felt right on the treatment. If we would’ve done it back then we would have settled for what we first had and it wouldn’t have been as spectacular.”
Traditionally, you don’t appear in your videos. Why is that?
Skrillex: When you hear the song, it’s so dramatic. In my head, it needed something as dramatic, and I think I would just distract from that in this case. Whenever I am in my videos, it’s rare. A lot of it is, they feel more live and hyper-realist, like I was saying before, rather than fantasy. People would just be like, “Oh, Skrillex is acting in this video,” and it wouldn’t work as well.
To me, the track is immediately identifiable as a Skrillex remix. At this point in your career, do you feel the pressure to push yourself in different directions?
Skrillex: It’s cool, because I’ve been working with Bieber and doing Jack Ü which departs from the roots of Skrillex for a little bit. The one thing that differentiates this, to me, is that a lot of my stuff has a lot of humor in it. My music had a lot, like “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites”, and stuff that was a little more satirical. But “Red Lips” is more honest and dramatic, and even over-dramatic, rather than having that sort of snottiness that some of my older music came from. If you go back and reference my productions that are, like, these traditional Skrillex sounds, it never had this seriousness before.
There are some predictions that EDM is on its way out, and yet you’re very optimistic about the future of computer music. How do you reconcile those views?
Skrillex: I totally see that sort of scene declining, because it’s in a bubble. But there are artists that are using computers in all genres—Kendrick Lamar’s music is electronic-made, and Taylor Swift is the same thing. There’s a lot of pop music, underground music, and music for films made with computers. In that sense, it’s not going to go away.
But as far as EDM goes—I’m talking about DJs—there’s been a wave right now and you can ride on it. But a platform is really arbitrary when it comes to an artist. An artist creates songs and timeless moments that are reflections that impact culture, and you can do that in any way—with guitars, ukelele, a computer. So, that will never die. It’s always the artist behind the computer, not the computer. You just told me yourself you can tell it’s a Skrillex remix, but there is a lot of music out there that you can play side by side and you can’t hear the personality—that has a timeline on it, for sure.
There will still be the big room house EDM songs, big hits—you’ll still have that here and there. But the copying to make a trend, that will always goes in cycles in all kinds of music. If I look at what I play, 99% of the sets that I play on aren’t EDM events. I haven’t played EDC since 2011. Normally, my sound fits a little bit better in mixed festivals.
There’s this famous EDM festival called Tomorrowland in Belgium that has gone on for ten years. It’s massive, with one hundred thousand people a day, and that’s the sound of Belgium. When you go into a normal fucking bar, they’re playing big room house, and they love that shit. And I played the main stage, and people don’t get my type of music there. You see what I’m saying? It’s also a cultural thing. It goes back to who’s pushing music in whatever genre. It always comes back to the individual and the attention in how you can connect with the music, you know?