Feature in New Times Broward-Palm Beach
Ultra Music Festival
Part One: Steve Aoki on Breaking Down the Barriers of EDM
By Mark Pratt Mon., Mar. 19 2012 at 8:37 AM
Steve Aoki speaks with the wired enthusiasm that can be attained only by being a relentlessly touring global DJ, acclaimed producer, owner of Dim Mak Records, and part of an organic nexus of artists including Diplo, Skrillex, and A-Trak, who are the current figureheads of the U.S. electronic dance music revolution. We catch him as he is about to leave California to hit up Miami Music Week for multiple label showcases at Mansion and Dream and a high-profile appearance at Ultra.
“It’s probably the most happening time in Miami. I’ve been doing Dim Mak events there for a long time, since at least 2006, so it’s really important for all the other artists to get together and play something like this. So many people come out to this thing, and it’s just getting bigger and bigger, and the EDM community itself is obviously just blowing up.”
This year heralds the arrival of separate track collaborations with Tiesto and Diplo, due out in 2012, yet he has already had a fruitful year. In January, his guest-laden debut studio album Wonderland made its debut at number 54 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart. “It was beyond my expectation — it did really well — and the way I’ve planned this out, I’m going to be shooting music videos for every single song on the album,” he says.
It’s a sonically eclectic experience, drawing on a myriad of influences and experiences. Aoki seems to adopt the position as musical producer, tastemaker and conductor; every track features guest collaborators ranging from established big-hitters such Rivers Cuomo, will.i.am, Travis Barker, and Lil Jon to recent dance-pop artists LMFAO and Wynter Gordon and even contributions from ’80s hardcore legends Die Kreuzen and the Exploited.
“What I wanted to do with this album is to have a spectrum of different kinds of music and bring them into my world. Even with punk and hardcore, I wanted to do one song with a guitarist from The Exploited and have that element in there too, since that represented a big part of my upbringing – where my base and musical roots are. That track was really important for me to do and doing a pop song with LMFAO — I love pop music as well as dance music or hip-hop or whatever.”
In many ways he seems to relish the artistic freedom that the current musical zeitgeist now allows and even celebrates. This is a guy brought up on straight edge hardcore, used to promote DIY punk shows in his front room and now finds himself sharing stages with the likes of David Guetta and Fedde Le Grand while remixing everyone from Drake, The Killers, and Michael Jackson.
“What’s so exciting about the state of EDM now is that you can do that. Three or four years, there was such major, major walls that were dividing all these different genres of music. There was no way artists would ever really work three or four years ago from different genres because the community wouldn’t allow it, they wouldn’t accept that music, they wouldn’t accept these kinds of collaborations. A lot of people are bridging from one world to another and it is being accepted.”
Steve Aoki will be performing at Ultra Music Festival on March 25 at Bayfront Park, 301 North Biscayne Boulevard, Miami.
Dim Mak Miami with Steve Aoki, Datsik, Joachim Garraud, Felix Cartal, Nervo, and others. Tuesday, March 20. Mansion, 1235 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. The party starts at 10 p.m. and tickets cost $40 plus fees via wantickets.com. Ages 21 and up. Call 305-695-8411 or visit mansionmiami.com.
Dim Mak Miami Music Week Pool Party with Sidney Samson, R3hab, Joachim Garraud, Felix Cartal, and others. Saturday, March 24. Dream South Beach Hotel, 1111 Collins Ave., Miami. The party starts at noon. Ages 21 and up. Call 305-673-4747 or visit dreamsouthbeach.com.