In the decades he’s been making music, Steve Aoki has proven himself to not only be one of the most innovative producers in the electronic space, but one of the most productive. He creates so much music, most of his biggest fans can’t keep up...and that’s only one thing he does! The multi-talented Aoki also creates clothing, owns a record label, and he now has a new podcast that sees him diving into his love of Japanese culture, exploring that world and sharing it with the world.
We spoke with the globetrotting DJ, asking him about how he manages to do more than three people combined (at least that’s how it seems) and what new tunes he has coming up.
You're always working! How do you find time for everything you do?
Steve Aoki: Well, it seems like there is no time, but for some reason, you can always find time. Especially when you love what you're talking about, what you're sharing, what you're doing. You always find time. You’ve got to weigh things out in your head and out in front of you. And you have to time manage your life in a way like, "Okay, this is something I want to do because I love doing it. And this is something I don't want to do, so we're not going to do it today." And it's all about having that discipline and looking forward, and having the foresight and being able to put the things that are important in your life in front of you. And for me, talking about Japan and having that kind of focus, it's a big deal.
That's why I spend countless hours in the studio. I could get off a long flight and come back to my house, and I'll get right back in the studio and I'll start working on music. It's because I absolutely love it, you know?
I mean, you ask the same question about kids that play Fortnite, right? How do these kids stay up all night playing Fortnite?
Don't know how they do it.
Aoki: I mean, think about it. These kids, it's not a chore for them; they're not practicing, they're not rehearsing. They're doing it because they love playing the game. Now imagine if they did that with an instrument becoming a master at a craft. Look at it in that same way. It's the same kind of thing. I think you can't look at things as, "Oh, God, I have to spend an hour learning this language because it sucks." You have to want to do it to really change your mindset. And all these different things that are chores, they're not chores anymore, and you can actually accomplish quite a lot.
The list of people you've worked with is too long to even think about, and it contains names from every genre. Is there anyone else that you would love to record with?
Aoki: I mean, the list is so wide and varied, and I love working with cultures and sounds that are just far, far reaching from mine. That's the great thing about being a DJ that gets to travel around the world, is that as I travel around the world, I keep my ears perked and I keep my feelers out there. I want to know about what's going on.
I was just down in Brazil, and I climbed aboard Anitta's float as she sang to millions of people in the street. I was just blown away. You have this incredible voice, an incredible pop icon in Brazil that speaks for the Brazilian people. They all, the entire country, is absolutely in love with her. Those are the moments where I'm like, "Holy cow. This is incredible." I would love to work with artists that have that kind of pulse on an entire culture. So there's so many artists out there, but because I spoke about Anitta, she would definitely be one on the list of future collaborations I would love to do.
It's only a matter of time before she explodes properly in the rest of the world.
Aoki: Yeah. The thing is, you just sense it with people. And she has it. She has a charisma, the personality. She has an incredible way to connect with people. And her voice is stunning. She's got so much. And she's such a kind, down-to-earth person. So on that level, you want her to win too. You want her to reach the stars.
So what's up next for Steve Aoki?
Aoki: What's up next? Well, we just dropped the big Monsta X collab, “Play It Cool,” which I'm very, very proud of. The music video is going to blow people's minds out of the water. It's an incredible video that you would expect from these young talented guys. I have a new song with a Brazilian DJ named Alok dropping soon. It's a club song, because as much as I love doing the pop crossover records, I also have to feed my community, the songs that work for my sets and are true to electronic dance world. So we have a really great club record that we are dropping, and we're on the road to Neon Future IV already. Monsta X, the “Play it Cool” record is part of that road. And a lot of exciting collaborations. I just dropped my song with Dagny, “Hit Your Heart,” and my song with Alan Walker [“Are You Lonely”]. So there will be more collabs dropping, sprinkling all the... what do you call it when you drop crumbs to the house?
Like a trail of breadcrumbs?
Aoki: Trail of breadcrumbs, yeah. Drop a trail of breadcrumbs to the thickly dense forest of music, and I hope people can follow me to the gingerbread house, Neon Future IV.
Amazing. Excited to hear it, although still listening to Neon Future III. Not over that yet.
Aoki: Yeah, we just dropped a music video for my song with Blink-182, which was really cool too. Neon Future III is as relevant as it can be in my world.
Photo Credit: Steve Aoki