To celebrate this season of giving, Skrillex has just released a beautiful new interpretation of “Stranger” featuring the vocal talents of Sam Dew and additional production by White Sea and sibling duo Tennyson. As a stark contrast to the artist’s bass-thumping “Red Lips (Remix)” banger released earlier this month, his latest rework is a lush soundscape that serves as an emotional portrayal of human relationships. Directed by Andrew Donoho, the new video features friends and family of Sonny Moore’s record label OWSLA, along with kids from a local school in Griffen, Georgia.
As part of OWSLA’s Nestivus holiday campaign, the song is now available as a free download here, or as an optional donation towards the Boys & Girls Club, Bridges for Music and Jhamtse Gatsa Children’s Community. As Skrillex tells us, “The whole purpose of this video – the reworking of the video and the intention behind it – was to give an opportunity for fans to donate to charity. And the idea is that, on Christmas Day, it creates a sort of collective opportunity for a lot of people to give.”
We recently caught up with Skrillex to learn more about why he decided to unveil the new remix on Christmas Day, as well as the creative process behind the track and the personal significance of the organizations that he has teamed up with on the project. Check out the full conversation below.
How was the video conceptually approached?
I approached Andrew Donoho, the director, because I knew he was really good at doing run-and-gun lifestyle videos. In a lot of his old videos he never even used actors, he likes to stay away from them. He’s really good at creating scenarios with real people, and that was the whole sentiment behind the video. I wanted real kids in real situations to sort of create something. Almost like documenting something that really happened and that’s how it felt, even though it was scripted in the sense that there was a video treatment. But everything was really natural.
The video shoot took place in Georgia. How did that go down?
That’s where Andrew’s from and it’s a lot easier to get away with a bunch of kids shooting fireworks at each other in Georgia than in LA.
What can you tell us about OWSLA’s Nestivus campaign?
We’ve been working with Bridges For Music for a few years now, which is a non-profit that originated in South Africa, and it was an opportunity to incentivize the subscribers at OWSLA IV – our subscription service through Drip.FM where we give special content out – and sort of educate them with what we’re doing with Bridges For Music. They’re building a school right now in South Africa, a music school in Langa township. Nestivus has been putting money towards that project through the month of December.
Fans can choose to donate to Boys & Girls Club, Bridges for Music and Jhamtse Gatsa Children’s Community. Why these organizations?
They all have to do with children, and that’s the sentiment behind the video. The original song was completely different, and once we shot the video I remixed the whole song because I felt like it could have been done differently. It was crazy too because I shot the video and a few weeks later my mom passed away, so a lot of the things that I was in production with kind of stopped and were very behind. it took a long time for me to get back on track and finish this video after that. Coming back to it, it felt irrelevant to just release the original song and figure out how we were going to do something special with it. So I made the new version and tried to build a better reason to put it out, inspired by the concept of the video. I thought, “fuck it, put it out Christmas Day.” People can all give a donation to all these charities that happen to do with children, and it all goes back to the idea of the video.
How are you spending Christmas?
I’m going to spend it with my dad and my sister on Christmas Day. Get some food and then hang out with a bunch of my friends in LA afterwards. Probably end up having a slumber party, who knows.
What was your favorite moment in 2015?
There’s too many great moments, that’s a really hard one. Closing Ultra was a pretty incredible moment. We had CL, Kiesza, Kai and Sam Dew from the Stranger video as well. Justin Bieber, P Diddy, all those people on the same stage. It was super epic and we threw it together last minute. That was pretty awesome. We had this really rad OWSLA Christmas pop-up this week at The Well in downtown LA which was a crazy idea me and my friends had. We executed it last minute and it was really successful and I felt like we did something new.
Where will you be on NYE?
I’ll be in Chicago, kicking it.
What’s your drive/goal/wish for 2016?
Become more focused on what artists OWSLA is working with, and being more than a record label and distributor. Focus more on becoming a creative group and a service provider of awesome content, taking music and building a story around it. Our studios will be finished next year, so we’re really getting down to business and not fucking around. We want to take these opportunities that I never had and give them to people who are hungry to create music.
What was the main idea behind doing this remix?
I guess I kind of explained it earlier. It was a video that almost didn’t see the light of day because my situation and the video being so delayed, and the song being older, so I was trying to figure out how we could salvage this and even out-do what the original intention was and make something special. Give something everyone can be a part of: giving for Christmas, or Hannukah, or Kwanzaa. Shout out to all the holidays.
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