Album the bridge for seductive spin
ORLD-RENOWNED DJ and producer Steve Aoki says he wanted to demonstrate all his different styles of production on his new album, Wonderland.
It may not be accurate to call Aoki the face of the new electronic-music movement in the US, but he is one of the few DJs in the country who is instantly identifiable as the bespectacled Skrillex or the masked, grinning caricature known as deadmau5.
Perhaps that’s why Aoki, founder of influential electronic music label Dim Mak, has become one of the country’s top touring DJs, spinning for tens of thousands of fans at massive festivals and on TV at the mtvU Woodie Awards. With his glossy synthesisers and seductive electro beats, Aoki, 34, bridges the gap between top 40 pop and indie-club cred.
His first proper album, Wonderland, features collaborations with LMFAO, Kid Cudi and Weezer singer Rivers Cuomo. Ahead of his upcoming Australian tour, Aoki chats about the state of dance music. A lot of DJs aren’t releasing albums – they’re just doing singles, remixes, mixtapes. . . Why was it important to you to release an album?
I come from a world of rock ’n’ roll, where albums defined artists. It wasn’t the EP that defined you, it was the album. It wasn’t a particular song. Like Weezer’s Pinkerton album is what’s defining of Weezer to me, not El Scorcho. Or Propagandhi’s Less Talk, More Rock – that entire album was the centrepiece of the punk time in my life. Or Gorilla Biscuits’ Start Today or the Prodigy’s first album. I’m still in that space. I want to put out an album that’s defining of my sound in 2012. I agree with you – it’s the singles that define DJs. And some of the top 10 DJs in the world don’t release albums at all – Afrojack, Laidback Luke, Avicii. They don’t have albums, but they’re considered literally the top DJs in US DJ Steve Aoki embraces a fan during his set at last month’s Sunset Strip Music Festival in West Hollywood, California What’s the biggest difference you’ve noticed between DJing live now and in, say, 2009?
In America, it’s just blown-up. And it’s not just the amount of people. It’s the energy. The excitement. The enthusiasm. The passion. All of that is just incredible. You play a festival show – say, Ultra – and you can see 50,000 people in front of you, if you’re playing the main stage. But not only do you see that many people, you see at least half of them jumping in unison. It’s incredible to be able to have that kind of energy and connection with the audience. the world and they have every right, because these songs are global hits that transcend culture and language. Was it easy to find collaborators for this album?
It’s not easy, man. It’s one thing to talk to someone about doing a record and it’s another thing to actually do the record. This album, I was able to get it all done because I took it upon myself to reach out to all the different artists. All of them, I know on a personal basis. It’s like, I can’t reach out to, like, Garth Brooks, you know what I mean? I have to know someone that respects and likes my music. How do you know Brooks doesn’t like your music?
Yeah, I mean, who knows? But I know will.i.am personally; he’s been coming to Dim Mak parties in LA for years, supporting dance music. We already did a record together, so working with him was very natural and organic. I’ve known Kanye (West) forever. I’ve known Travis Barker for a long time. These are people that I look to as my party partners in crime. I hit up these people because I know them personally, they know where I’m coming from, what my take on the dance world is.
Steve Aoki plays The Met, in Brisbane, on October 11.