Electronic dance musician helps drive culture with hip hop sounds
October 10, 2013
Grammy-nominated musician and record producer, songwriter, and founder of Dim Mak Records — his father should be proud that his hard work genes wore off on his son. The work ethic of a wild animal, it’s no wonder Steve Aoki is one of the most requested artist in the music industry.
No newbie to the music scene, the 35-year old entrepreneur founded Dim Mak in 1996. Since its creation, Dim Mak has evolved from a little-known hardcore band out of southern California to a movement looking to push the boundaries of music, through records, apparel and non stop touring.
While Aoki has claimed a plethora of fans over the years, acting as one of the front-runners helping push the Electronic Dance Music (EDM) world, his list of haters has also increased. Recently a satirical web publication deemed him as a “fake DJ” just looking to shake up the culture, going as far as quoting him on things he never said.
“I thought it was funny, because they actually quoted me saying shit I never said,” said Aoki in an exclusive phone interview with the Valencia Voice. “It was so absurd that I was laughing until people actually believed it.
“That’s when I was like: ‘You know what, the last thing I want to do is confuse my fans, because at the end of the day I am where I am because of my fans. It’s because of them I’m doing what I’m doing.’ If they didn’t give a fuck about my music or never came out to my shows, I guess I would have decided a long time ago it’s time to move on.”
Coming off what he credits as the biggest year of his career — Aoki put the “Tour Forever” mantra to full force performing in more than 350 stops on the Deadmeat Tour, released an album, and was nominated for a Grammy — he looks to only make this year better.
While he has no plans to release his second studio album, “Neon Future,” until the spring of 2014, he does plan to continue putting out music and continue touring.
It may be safe to say that Aoki does not stop working and may in fact be a vampire. Instead of taking the potential few days he had off from shows to rest following his performance at electronic music festival TomorrowWorld, he spent them on late night studio sessions leading all the way up to night before his “Aiokofy Tour” started.
“I’m really proud of what my work ethic has grown to be. I got a good discipline that I learned from my father, who trained me like a fucking animal.”
While many artist have trouble making and putting out music on the go, Aoki has managed to fit it in his tour schedule.
“At the end of the day it’s all about discipline, because you have the time as long as you make use of it and manage it properly.”
For a long period of time, Aoki could not produce records while he was on the road. Throughout the years he has evolved and credits a good part of that success to his peers. Rapper Kendrick Lamar being one in specific.
“Kendrick’s work ethic really inspired me. His bus was a studio, so whenever I went there to jam out he was working hard. Dude has the best work ethic I’ve seen in a while from an artist.”
Aoki and Kendrick spent three weeks together touring different colleges across the U.S., where he was able to soak up some of those influences. During this time, Aoki got to experience some of the best moments of his career, as he witnessed two different cultures and communities come together for one event to create a positive vibe and have the time of their life.
Rather than just letting those memories fade away at the conclusion of that tour, Aoki began searching for another hip-hop artist that could help provide that natural organic bridge and supply that same spark if not greater on the “Aokify America Tour.”
After doing some research and thinking of artist he already was a fan of, he turned to Atlanta rapper Waka Flocka Flame.
“The thing about this tour is, I want to make it the most live tour possible. When I was looking at other artist, I checked out his YouTube videos and dude is fucking nuts,” says Aoki.
“The guy is not just an incredible rapper, with a great catalog of songs and an amazing following, he is also a great performer on stage. He’s always interacting with the audience and jumping around; and some what reminds me of myself to be honest. When I see him going crazy, I’m like ‘that’s the guy I want to be touring with.’”
A good fit in deed. Aside from touring together, Waka will also be one of the many featured artist on “Neon Future.” Others artist expected make guest appearances on the album are Machine Gun Kelly, Mac Miller, Linkin Park, and Will.i.am.
As of now Kendrick and Aoki have not had the time to hook up for a studio session but don’t rule out a potential song from two, as they have collaborated on some ideas.
“We definitely talked about it and hopefully there could be a time that happens in the future. You never know.”
While Kendrick is not set appear on “Neon Future,” other California rapper Snoop Dogg does bless the album with both singing and rapping verses.
“One of the best parts of working with him on a track is that you get to hear both Snoop Dogg and Snoop Lion in one song. You get to hear him rapping and you get to hear him singing, and it’s a very rare occurrence.”
Aoki makes his way to Central Florida beginning Saturday Oct. 19, where he will play the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. The following day he will take the Firestone Live stage in Orlando.
“Florida is one of the best places in America for dance music. It’s like a hotbed for the type of music I do, so take that back it’s one of the best places in the world.
“America is bubbling with energy and enthusiasm and growth, and interest of what we’re doing with the music. Florida is prime real estate for EDM.