How Skrillex Influenced The Weeknd’s “Dawn FM” Album

In the music industry, there's seemingly only a few degrees of separation between Skrillex and any given hit.

One such track on The Weeknd's new Dawn FM album stands as a prime example. The story of how Bruce Johnston of The Beach Boys came to be involved with the project is something of a butterfly effect—with Skrillex playing a pivotal role. 

Johnston, now 79, tells the Los Angeles Times that he was out surfing at Zuma Beach and decided to stop in at the nearby Shangri-La Studios afterwards. There, the legendary musician met Skrillex, who was working with multi-Platinum producer Rex Kudo and renowned guitarist Heavy Mellow at the time.

Johnston explains that Skrillex and the artists in his orbit at Shangri-La have an unrelenting work ethic, likening them to "the Wrecking Crew in the 21st century."

"They can write, sing, play, produce," Johnston said. "They pool the music and then offer it around, and for the artists it’s like trying on clothes before you customize it."

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Johnston says a subsequent session with Kudo and Christian Love, son of fellow Beach Boys member Mike Love, yielded a jam that eventually made its way onto The Weeknd's radar. The track ultimately found a home on Dawn FM as "Here We Go… Again" (with Tyler, The Creator) six months after Johnston, who is credited as a writer and producer, says he'd heard secondhand that The Weeknd was interested in the demo.

Interestingly, Johnston says he continues to stop into the studio where Skrillex regularly grinds away, and says his visits have resulted in hours worth of accumulated, unreleased music.