Heather Krebsbach of USC Events had the opportunity to interview Steve Aoki at one of his shows during one of the stops of his Deadmeat Tour. Here is what he had to say about the tour, the new popularity of the EDM scene, and the release of his new album ‘Wonderland’.
USC: What is your favorite tour you have ever been on?
Steve Aoki: This is the first produced tour I’ve ever done. I’ve had my biggest show of my career on this tour, 7200 people in San Francisco. I’m just having an amazing time supporting my album, people are responding to my music and it’s a really good feeling ya know? Right now it’s my favorite. Of course I love touring around the world though.
USC: Where is your favorite place you’ve gone to outside of the United States?
Steve Aoki: That’s really tough to say because they’re all unique and really cool.
I love Tokyo, Jakarta, Cologne Germany, Milan Italy—Italy in general is really popular with this type of music. London, Sydney, Malta, and Sicily—that was amazing.
USC: How did you get teamed up with Datsik for the Deadmeat Tour?
Steve Aoki: We bro’d down on the Identity Festival Tour that happened across the U.S. this last summer in 2011 and we became good friends and I ended up signing him to Dim Mak. We decided to do this tour because we have two different followings and you know, it’d be good for us to do that. Plus, it’s an interesting time in the EDM world that you could do something like this–before you just never could.
USC: Why do you think the EDM scene has become so popular?
Steve Aoki: I think that all the scenes are blending and merging together. There are the scenes that are that are totally purist and of course, there are the core people of each sound that will stay pure. But for the most part, its just the same kids who love Datsik…They also love Avicii, and they like Boys Noize and Swedish House Mafia. I like where it’s going. It’s a new way of downloading and accessing music too; you know, you don’t have to buy it anymore. It’s all word of mouth first of all, everything is based on word of mouth. Word of mouth is the most important way to find out about music with this generation. And its so easy to access; like if you’ve never heard a Deadmau5 song its so easy to find it on Youtube.
USC: Do you think social media networks like Twitter, Facebook, and Beatport help advance the EDM scene?
Steve Aoki: I think Twitter helps when you’re educated with the music first. I could be wrong here, but a normal person would use Twitter to follow people they like because otherwise you would just text your friends anyways. So if I joined Twitter I would be like “Okay who do I like that I wanna hear about? I like Datsik, Bloody Beetroots… I wanna hear and see what they say”. That’s why you have to be somewhat educated for Twitter. Facebook is a little different, you have more time to see Youtube and things like that. Beatport is good, its all about dance music. I still think its still pretty male dominated as far as the consumer base, I firmly believe girls buy most of their music on iTunes. Its not a bad or good thing, I think that’s just what it is. I could be wrong. I think Beatport has really helped advanced music and helped bring it out. The whole thing is based around dance music and selling music like that.
USC: What do you think about the age of some of the producers in the EDM scene? How did they get so successful?
Steve Aoki: That’s the new generation; you don’t need the big studios anymore. You can learn how to produce in 6-12 months, I mean, it might not be good, or you might get lucky or you might just be a prodigy. Like for me, I was a song-writer first. When I was in high school I was already playing music. So back then if I were to transfer myself as a 16 year old into 2012 I can for sure see myself going to electronic music at that age instead of punk and hardcore which was more of my thing back then. I think its great. The more music the better and the good tunes will keep the evolution of music going. There are going to be a lot of bad ones but the good ones will keep the dance music around.
USC: What do you think about what the producers in the Regeneration Project did?
*The Regeneration Project is a film that documented five successful DJ’s as they combined their electronic sound with various genres of music such as classic rock, country, jazz, classical music, and R&B.*
Steve Aoki: I haven’t seen the documentary but I really like that Skrillex song.
USC: Would you ever do a collaboration like the producers did in that documentary?
Steve Aoki: I’d love to! I love doing collaborations.
USC: What genre do you think you would branch out into if you did that?
Steve Aoki: People ask me who I would most like to work with dead or alive and I always say Beethoven or Mozart because it would be such an interesting scenario to work with someone at that caliber and in that musical context and space. Something like that would be cool.
USC: How many shows do you have left on the tour?
Steve Aoki: Not that many. The Deadmeat Tour is almost over.
USC: Are you going to tour outside of the United States soon?
Steve Aoki: I never really stop touring, I’ve been touring 250—250+ shows a year since ’06-‘07. It just never ends for me. Doesn’t matter if it’s an album cycle or not. I was touring a lot before my album. That’s the thing with DJ-ing; bands tour off their albums where as DJs tour off their songs. And the songs will define your fan base and will be the reason why people come to your shows.
USC: Would you rather play at large festivals or at a smaller venue?
Steve Aoki: Honestly, I’d rather play festivals because the feeling is so crazy. Its so crazy playing in front of that many people. They’re not uninterested, they’re there to have a good time. And then sometimes you play at a night club where you do the opposite than playing a festival and maybe half the club is sitting at tables drinking bottles not listening to the music and more interested in going to an Aoki show and picking up chicks or something. I’d rather play for sweaty kids focused on the music to be honest with you.
USC: What are you doing after the Deadmeat Tour is over?
Steve Aoki: Playing the Woodies Awards, I’ve been nominated for some awards. Then I am going to do Nocturnal… Beyond Wonderland, we have a stage there. Then I play San Diego with Steve Angello at a big venue–6500 cap room. Then I do a show in Cabo, come back Mix Mag showcase, Dim Mak pool party, Ultra Music Festival. Then I leave to Europe for three weeks, come back and do two weeks of shows, then go back to Europe for two weeks, and the cycle continues. I’d like to go back to Asia and then back to Europe. I go to Europe every month.
USC: Is there anything you can’t live without when you’re on tour?
Steve Aoki: If I could have it my way I would do it all on bus tour. Because on a bus tour you can bring as much stuff as you want and as much stuff as you need. All I care about is having a bunch of Alkaline water, and I like a having massage therapist with me, I like having my merch people with me, I like having a lot of things with me. And when you’re flying around you really can’t do that–its expensive. On a bus tour everyone sleeps on the bus. I mean when you fly you have to pay for flights. That’s 24 flights for the 24 people on tour. It’s just a different kind of experience.
USC: For your Wonderland album, how did you get associated with the artists featured on your album? Did you have tracks in mind and thought they would be good for the part?
Steve Aoki: A lot of them were people that I knew. It was a personal album. Its not like I had managers reach out to Will.I.Am., LMFAO or Cudi, I know these people. I met Rivers a few years back and then I met Wynter through a friend of a friend. All of these people I’ve had a personal relationship with. I think on the next album I’ll be expanding out and trying some new stuff with people that I don’t know. This one is different though, I wanted it to be more hands on. Yes, I did write a lot of those songs for those singers. That’s why its very different, every song is unique to one another.
USC: Well I think we covered the basics. Thank you Steve, it was great meeting you and have a great show tonight! Thanks for your time.
Steve Aoki: Yeah thanks guys! Have a good one.