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Deadmau5 Vs. Skrillex: Who Is The King Of EDM?

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Charley Gallay/Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images

Charley Gallay/Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images

They’re the two biggest players in the current Electronic Dance Music (EDM) bubble that just keeps getting bigger, with no signs of popping anytime soon. While Deadmau5 (the Canadian-born Joel Zimmerman) was part of the wave that paved the way for artists like Skrillex (Los Angeles native Sonny Moore)  to breakout with rock star status, both acts continue to race towards the future with a myriad of high-profile projects and marquee collaborations. Each is immediately identifiable, given Deadmau5’s signature mouse head logo and Skrillex’s trademark shaved-side haircut-and-glasses combo.

While it’s easy for the uninitiated to lump all electronic artists into one big bag of four-on-the-floor beats, the reality is that that are as many variations and subgenres within EDM as there are in rock, pop and hip-hop. Where Skrillex’s manic dubstep beat explosions recall the energy of hardcore and even heavy metal, the more sweeping, hands-in-the-air progressive house tracks of Deadmau5 ride on lush, handcrafted sounds and pumping bass lines. Both are well versed in how to fire up any crowd with the tension and release dynamics of a perfectly placed “drop” during a set (ask a raver).

All of which begs the question: Who is the current king of EDM? Pitting Skrillex and Deadmau5 in a head-to-head showdown of dance floor superiority, we’ve matched them in a series of categories to see which one emerges victorious.

Signature Tunes:

Deadmau5: Among the Mau5’s biggest tracks include “Ghosts N Stuff,” “Some Chords” and the slow-burning fan favorite “Strobe.”

Skrillex: “Bangarang,” “Rock n’ Roll Will Take You to the Mountain” and “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” (known for the “Yes! OMG!” sample) are just a few of his most popular songs.

Live Show:

Deadmau5: In concert, DM performs from a massive LED cube-like structure that constantly flashes eye-popping visual images matched to the music. There’s also the live interaction on the occasions when he brings out vocalist Sofi for the songs “Sofi Needs A  Ladder” and “One Trick Pony.” He’s also updated the Mau5head with LEDs to project a series of words and images across the front it.

Skrillex: Where a Skrillex show previously relied on his own manic energy behind the boards matched only by the enthusiasm of his audience, he’s upped the ante of his live production of late. Opening with a giant “countdown clock” that heralds the start of his show, Skrillex is now performing from a giant spacecraft made to look like an X-Wing Fighter from Star Wars that rises 50 feet above the audience.

Record Labels

Deadmau5: The Mau5trap label launched in 2009 with the single for Deadmau5/Kaskade collaboration “I Remember” and includes releases from Chris Lake, Noisea and ironically enough, Skrillex’s original Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites EP in 2010.

Skrillex: The bespectacled beat baron revved up his OWSLA imprint just last year in 2011 with this mission statement: “We’re not here to spam you with promotions, we’re here collectively to share our passions for music and art.” Artists with releases on OWSLA include Dillon Francis, Zedd and the label’s latest signing, French EDM outfit Birdy Nam Nam.

Cool Collaborations:

Deadmau5: Deadmau5 made two of his biggest tracks, “I Remember” and “Move for Me” with progressive house DJ Kaskade.  The long-time pal of Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee most recently teamed up with My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way to create “Professional Griefers,” the lead single from his upcoming sixth studio album, Album Title Goes Here (due September 25) which will also feature appearances from Imogen Heap, Cypress Hill and Wolfgang Gartner.

Skrillex: Skrillex has already connected with an enviable list of big-name collaborators, such as Damien Marley for the song “Make it Bun Dem” and Korn, whose most recent album, The Path of Totality, he helped produce. While he’s confirmed working on the upcoming Kaye West album, his biggest collaboration coup came with Skrillex was teamed with classic rock legend the Doors to produce “Breakin’ A Sweat” for the Re:Generation Music Project movie.

Grammy Count:

Deadmau5: He’s been nominated four times for the prestigious award, including Best Dance Recording and Best Dance/Electronica Album in 2012, but has yet to win his first Grammy.

Skrillex: As Skrillex, Sonny Moore racked an impressive five nominations in his first year of contention, including the prestigious Best New Artist nod. While that prize went to Bon Iver, he did snag victories in three other categories, besting Deadmau5 in Best Dance Recording, Best Dance/Electronica Album and Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical for his take on Benny Benassi’s “Cinema.”

Number of Twitter Followers:

Deadmau5: Given his nonstop communication with fans, Deadmau5 has well over a million followers, clocking in at 1,358,893 and counting.

Skrillex: In the popularity contest of this particular social network, Skrillex is the clear winner, steadily approaching two million followers with a scale-tipping 1,835,543 devotees hanging on his every tweet.

The Verdict:

Having reviewed the facts as well as the beats, trying to choose a winner has resulted in a heated office debate that ended with an impromptu wrestling match and minimal bloodshed, but still no clear-cut winner. So it’s now up to you to set the record straight. Which of these plugged-in mega-stars is the true king of EDM? The head-to-head poll is now open for battle! Once the dust and BPMs have settled and the people have spoken, we will crown the rightful heir – Deadmau5 or Skrillex – to the dance music throne.


–Scott T. Sterling, CBS Local

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