Social media pages these days are just like farts: insufferable unless they’re your own. A decade ago, though, it was a different story – a more innocent story. The only troll you knew was Grendel, the self-awareness that our carefully filtered Instagram images of almond croissants are now seeped in didn’t exist because we were all pre-pubescent and lame, and there was only one platform to overshare on: MySpace dot com.
Launching on the cusp of an era when members of My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, and Brand New were worshipped with a fervour traditionally reserved for boybands and the cast of Harry Potter, MySpace was the most immediate and direct form of artist-to-fan interaction you could get. In 2004, nobody had a fucking clue what they were doing online. Everything seemed like a good idea simply because it was a new one: run every single selfie through Photoshop and up the contrast to the point where your face looks like a spoon with eyes and a lip ring? Essential. Spend hours customising a profile where the lyrics from Tell All Your Friends waterfall down the screen and the cursor is a broken heart? Obviously. Leave a comment on Pete Wentz’s page informing him precisely which common interests you share and why they are reasons to date? No question. And the best thing about it all was that this is exactly what famous people did too. We were all in it together, complicit in our needless questionnaire bulletins, poor fashion decisions, and blatant chirpsing.Earlier this year, we revisited Ke$ha’s MySpace profile from 2008, and what we found was a veritable time capsule of a simpler, better existence online. From the ‘About Me’ to the comments, it contained more affirmations than DJ Khaled’s Snapchat, all packaged haphazardly in a customised page decorated with clip art dollar signs. But 2008 was a strange time for MySpace. People had already started migrating to Facebook, deleting their photos out of embarrassment, and shedding the hair extentions that came as a prerequisite to having an account in the first place. Record labels began to see the site as open season for potential new signings, and artist pages were gradually taken over by a third party. Suddenly, normal people couldn’t schmooze their way into their favourite band’s Top 8 anymore. What was the point?
MySpace has always been defined by TMI, but during its real peak, somewhere around 2005, it was a more negative kind of openness. The confidence found on Ke$ha’s page in 2008 would have been totally alien in the landscape of the mid-00s, which was mostly dominated by shaky self-esteem and bio's full of post-breakup revenge lyrics in Lucinda Handwriting font. Today, we look at the underside of the brutally honest coin that was MySpace through the prism of one of the era's few icons who not only endured, but broke free: Skrillex.Initially entering public consciousness as Sonny Moore, lead vocalist of From First To Last between 2004 and 2006, his relationship with the social media days of yore is a complicated one. Sonny Moore was the prince of MySpace. He practically invented the top-down selfie. I mean, the band’s debut album was called Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has a Bodycount (a quote reappropriated from the film Heathers), for fucks sake, and “Note To Self” was the unofficial anthem for heartbroken youth on a dial-up connection. For years, From First To Last’s MySpace page self-described their music as sounding like “the inside of a prosthetic leg”.Emo, in its early-to-mid noughties incarnation, has been, in my humble opinion, unfairly maligned by critics and mocked by pretty much everyone else. Sonny Moore has gotten a lot of flack over the years simply for being the posterboy for a very specific and relatively short lived teen generation (he was just 16 when he joined From First To Last) that everyone outside of unanimously deemed an embarrassment. Screamo, snakebite piercings, bleach blonde streaks in jet-black hair: this was our youth, our legacy, and – before he came to represent a very different form of youth culture as Skrillex – Sonny Moore was the archetypal face of it.
After From First To Last’s second album Heroine was released in 2006, Sonny left the band. He underwent multiple surgeries to repair the damage inevitably done to his vocal cords, and evolved into the Skrillex we all know and for some reason struggle to accept as incredibly talented today.
Despite being of high school age at the time, Sonny Moore became a very public name, very quickly, which may account for the fact that the archives of his digital history are so fragmented. Only traces of it still remain, with many of the images of his fuchsia eyeshadow-wearing “sex hair” days wiped from the original pages, even if they will live on forever in our collective memory (and Google images). Even his MySpace background has disappeared, which is either because it was a temporary profile he couldn’t be arsed with, or the cheap hosting site we all used to build them went bust. But there is still a banquet of nostalgia to feast upon. What we have here is a profile that exists in the creative limbo of 2006: the gap between leaving From First To Last, and launching Skrillex as an official project.
HIS ABOUT ME
There cannot be a single one among us who does not relate to this. At one time or another, we have all been 18-year-old Skrillex’s ‘About Me’ section. In just five simple sentences, he captures the true struggle of dealing with fame and puberty simultaneously – as if one wasn’t turbulent enough on its own. Here is Sonny Moore, shaking off the shit people have been talking on him for the last two years, sort of, and saying: "Hey. Shut up, jerks!" At least, that’s the surface of it. It definitely sits atop a mountain of injury. And that’s the thing, really: whether it's being homeschooled due to bullying, singing “note to self I miss you terribly”, or dropping the filthiest of all bass, Sonny Moore has always been misunderstood. Even today, one of the most frequently asked questions about him online is: “What is the meaning of Skrillex?” Say what you want about him, but if that’s not evidence of an interesting artist, I don’t know what is.
I wish those blog links on his old Myspace still worked, but alas, we’ll never know what ‘faeog’ stands for, or what questions and answers he had to offer on Richard D. James’ fifth studio album Drukqs. Not even a Google search for “supermundane incandescence” can shed light on what that is, although it is an interest page on Facebook with one solitary like. Sonny, is that you?
HIS GENERAL INTERESTS
I never thought I’d see “quests”, the Atkins diet, and a picture of a sloth billed next to each other as general interests, but then I had also never seen Skrillex’ early days MySpace page before. Given that his entire musical career has been about forging noises hitherto unexperienced by human ears – working on Harmony Korine’s trash masterpiece Spring Breakers one minute and a Diplo collaboration the next – the fact that his preferred conversational topics are equally obscure and unforthcoming in any explanation probably makes a lot of sense.
I should point out that this page column went down quite a fair distance, and that image of Belle from Beauty and the Beast is just one of many Disney princesses that feature. Others include Snow White taking a bite out of a poisoned apple and Sleeping Beauty surrounded by thorns. I can only assume this is meta-commentary on how women are portrayed in the majority of emo lyrics.
HIS MUSICAL INTERESTS
This list is so dense I can practically hear the dial-up connection struggling to process it all. The lack of punctuation sort of portrays it as a Where’s Wally? for “those who know” – like, you can pick out Crass, A Tribe Called Quest, Skrillex himself, and lots of other obvious ones, but if anyone knows whether “4 Goon Gumpas Logon Rock Witch Cliffs Grass Rhubarb Trolls” is one band or several bands I’d be delighted to know. Also, shout out to the final sentence, showing a Skrillex slowly discovering trance; the proto form of the hands in the air electronic music he would come to personfiy.
After the drop, we have Ali G filed under television, Watership Down under books, and under heroes there is just a very large and intense photograph of Aphex Twin’s face.
So here’s an interesting thing about MySpace and its surrounding music culture: because of the prevalence of male-dominated bands with large female fanbases, boys were equal recipients of appearance-based abuse back then. Contrast that with Ke$ha’s comments section – which paints a picture of a beautiful world in which the only people who bothered to interact with you online were those checking in to say that you’re peng and your music makes them happy – and you have quite an interesting shift of online behaviour in the space of about two years. Obviously, the Sonny stans come out in his defence, but based on this and his ‘About Me’ section it seems like the kid couldn’t even push his fringe out of his eye without being hit with an insult, which, considering he is responsible for making music that has aged better than most of us as people, makes me sad.
Another interesting thing about MySpace is that people somehow had even less of a filter than they do now, and would take it upon themselves to inform global celebrities of their own album sales data, when they last logged in, and random interests-based information that might lead to a snog.
Caution! Extremely peak moment in emo history below. For those who aren’t in the know, this comment is a reference to Sonny and Sean Friday (who used to drum in Dead Sara / Sonny and the Blood Monkeys but is now SOMEHOW known only as Demi Moore’s new boyfriend) covering Saosin’s objectively perfect “Seven Years”.
From Sonny: prince of MySpace, to Skrillex: prince of "drop that bass" face, Moore has battled through infinite shade since the dawn of social media and come out on top time and time again. Everything that we're interested in, that we think we are, that we someday hope to be, Sonny Moore has always been that multiplied by infinity. In 2004, he surveyed the emotional music landscape and produced "Emily". In 2006, he abandoned his band, MySpace culture, and seemingly stopped caring about it all way before the rest of us, leaving only snippets of information and pictures of sloths in his wake. Then, he caught the wave of ear-assaulting music just before it broke and became one of the world's biggest DJs, picking up several Grammys along the way for his troubles – looking and behaving, might I add, pretty much exactly the same as he always has.Thank god for Sonny Moore: man, myth, cross-generational icon we didn’t know we needed until he came along and did everything the most.Emma spent 2004 listening to Morrissey in her car and is on Twitter.