Steve Aoki

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Steve Aoki


It’s the day after the superbowl when I reach Steve Aoki at his LA home. Traditionally it’s a crazy time of year in the States – full of patriotic fervour and partying.

It’s the day after the superbowl when I reach Steve Aoki at his LA home. Traditionally it’s a crazy time of year in the States – full of patriotic fervour and partying. And in fact, Aoki’s regular Sunday Dim Mak night held one such celebration. But for the 33 year old Aoki who as label owner of Dim Mak records, a DJ and producer has seen worldwide success, it was a fairly uneventful day. Instead of watching the football he went to buy a birthday present for his mum. "Monday is the best day of the week," confesses Aoki. "I get to chill at my house – in the daytime its meetings and at night I get some time in the studio. It’s a good time to recover from weekend shows!"

Aoki’s rise to be one of the headline acts at this year’s Future Music Festival is fascinating to look back on. As one of Rocky Aoki’s children, the founder of the Benihana restaurant chain, some might thing he was predestined to go into that business. "My father was really supportive of me. He passed away a couple of years ago but he was always receptive to my path in life. As an entrepreneur, he looked at life with this amazing curveball vision and let me do my thing. I never needed his approval and I didn’t want to get involved with his business but a lot of what he did rubbed off on me in a different way."

Aoki’s live shows have this amazing, almost rock band, energy. He’s often found jumping around in front of the decks or getting on the mic instead of staying behind them like most DJ. "I come from a different world. I was a rock guy before DJing – I always considered DJing this accident. I have been doing Dim Mak since 1996 but I didn’t start DJing until 2002. That was the same time that I moved to LA."

Since then, Aoki has promoted and released some massive acts on Dim Mak, include MSTRKRFT and Bloody Beetroots: "I put out Kills first record and in 2003 I signed Bloc Party in the US. At that time I was bringing the bands out to Cinespace in LA. I was DJing these indie parties bringing Kaiser Chiefs, MIA etc out – we were like the premier indie/alternative party and I was just the DJ."

Whilst he was attending college Aoki started to promote shows and play in bands. "As I became more of an artist and started producing music I started with what I knew. Between 1998 and 2002 I was doing band stuff, recording music and playing live. We had a kinship for punk and hard core bands. Then the DJ thing started to develop."

To Aoki, it comes down to entertaining the crowd: "We’ve all been in a crowd a million times, we want to be stimulated. Especially for me, I don’t do any drugs. I watched Deadmau5’s show from front of house recently. I was tranced out by light show and the whole thing. I got inspired by that. I always want to evolve my show to incorporate all kinds of different things. I’m still working on that. For Future it will be very raw Aoki kind of experience. There’s no crazy LEDs or light show!"

Maintaining inspiration after more than ten years running Dim Mak is a topic that Aoki gets enthusiastic about. "Nothing is more satisfying than finishing the projects. When you say that you’re finally finished it’s so satisfying! I think a lot of people get stuck but you have to get through it. Once you have your own satisfaction that’s the most important thing. It’s all an art form and if other people are happy with it that’s a bonus."

With a Dim Mak stage on the Future Music Festival tour and big releases planned for this year, including more Bloody Beetroots and Etienne De Crecy, Aoki is looking forward to another packed year. "It’s all about the process. Day to day that’s inspiring me not the end goal."

Steve Aoki [US] plays Future Music Festival with Dizzee Rascal [UK], Mark Ronson & The Business Intl [UK], The Presets [AUS] and more at the Flemington Racecourse on Sunday March 13.