Spyonvegas.com Spies on Steve Aoki
Agent 21 Spotlight: Put My Record On – Part 1
Music is an art and the artist is the DJ. Each DJ interprets music and makes it their own. In Las Vegas, resident DJs make the nightlife. They read the crowd, play their sound and keep the party going all night long. Did you know there are over 100 resident DJs in Las Vegas? How do you know what sound each one brings? How do you know where they play? How do you know they’re good? Well… I am here to help you with that. I am letting you know their sound, background, small insight of who they are, and where to experience them.
Over the course of the next five days, I am featuring 43 Las Vegas resident DJs leading up to my event at The Bank Nightclub, this Friday, April 29 with DJ Karma. Details of the event will be included daily along with a teaser of which DJs will be featured the next day. I am extremely grateful to each DJ that took the time to be a part my feature and am proud to present this spotlight to you.
Today’s DJ line-up: Steve Aoki, E-Man, Freddy B, Girl 6, Mighty Mi, Jace One, Finesse, and Karma
SA: Born in Miami, grew up in Newport Beach, went to school in Santa Barabara, now in Los Angeles.
A21: Describe your sound.
SA: Produced dance music. My album is very different than what I have out now, “Turbulence,” “Wake Up Call,” Travis Barker for his album Mystic, new noise remix, warped, all very aggressive dance music, edgy dance music. My new album, coming out is more song based, writing with singers and vocalists and structure differently than dance. It’s structured around the typical song, different take to my production also diverse where I am at as a producer.
A21: Who were your influences?
SA: I was more of a rock guy. My roots are core punk music. My influences are punk bands, Minor Threat, Ozzy, Born Against… I was in punk bands myself. I’ve been in a studio recording live music since I was 16. I have been involved in production for over 15 years.
A21: Is there any specific you would like to work with?
SA: Yeah, there are tons of people of I would love to do music with. You know, across the board all different singers and songwriters. In my album I have Kid Cudi, Travis Barker, will.i.am, Black Starr, Wynter Gordon, Chiddy Bang, RedFoo from LMFAO, a bunch of different artists.
A21: What was your first gig?
SA: In 2002, I DJ’ed at a club called Three Clubs in Hollywood on Santa Monica Blvd and Vine. My friend was a bartender and told me “come in and DJ Steve cause I know you have a crazy record collection.” Which I do have a huge of collection of punk and hard core records. So I went in with my records and he taught me how to spin records in three minutes. It wasn’t beat matching, it was like, “okay, left turn table, put the need down, press play.” When the song ends, push the fader over, press the button, and the needle starts there.
I was a radio DJ so I had a record player. So for me to play with two record players back then was like amazing. I had record players not turn tables, I didn’t know what to call them. I was playing punk records in a bar to a bunch of people sitting down drinking beer, they were just confused.
A21: You have a double bachelor’s in Women’s Studies and Sociology, why those majors?
SA: I’m not to say that I’m not that frame of mind now a day because it’s still a part of me. In college, I was very radical and politified about taking action from the education of what I was learning. Either through rallies, students protest, or bands, I was always in very political bands, vocal and senior of the bands. Honestly, women’s studies department was the most radical department in school. My fourth year I wasn’t hanging out with students, I was hanging out with the teachers, graduate and more politically active students.
I took school very seriously. I actually got accepted to two PhD programs after I graduated, but I didn’t take that route. I was in school, my goals were to stay in school, become a professor and write books that influence people and do research. I still have lot sympathy towards the movement.
A21: If you weren’t a DJ, what you would be doing?
SA: Back in 2002 is when I got my PhD acceptance and had to make a decision that was going to change the rest of my life. Either stay in school, or take the other route because once I started in this world there was no turning back, so mind as well dive in deep.
I was also heavily involved in my label. I started developing my label in ’96. I was already 6 years in with the label and put out records that did really well. I was in bands, I was doing music. That music world I was involved in was a non-money making decision. There was no money-making in the career decision I decided to jump into. But also with academics there is no money, professors make shit. It’s really two different decisions that were acts of love. I didn’t think I would make any money in either one.
But my drive, my passion, made me stick with my label. And the new artist I signed at the time, The Kills from England were amazing duo rock group. I wasn’t a DJ then or know what a DJ was or DJ names. I was a rock guy. In 2002, we put out The Kills, 2003, I signed Bloc Party from England, 2005, did a deal with Vice Atlantic and sold 350,000 albums. Now 2011, we have over 200 records on the label, full time employees, involved as a business through many genres. The last four years been putting out mainly dance music, bloody deep roots, master crafts and artists in that caliber, my own productions, but still put out rock and hip hop and other kinds of left of field music.
A21: Favorite Spot to Spin?
SA: One spot would be America because it’s my own home field, but other than that Asia and Australia. I love Australia; my fan base there is really amazing. In Asia, my fans there are amazing but Asia is like Europe, where you fly a couple of hours and you are different country, language and culture and as an artist it’s amazing to see.
A21: Favorite Spot to party in Vegas?
SA: I’m going to have to say Surrender and XS; those are my resident DJ spots. I just signed a deal with XS and my first gig was amazing. The whole crowd was up for it. The XS crew gave the Dim Mak experience for Vegas apparent -Dim Mak Mondays floatable baseball bats, t-shirts and hats, crushing on the promo.
Surrender is awesome. I love the crew there to death. Sean Christie, Shecky Green, Wayne Crane, Pauly, they are all my homies. I love them. It would be hard for me to leave because of them. I love the club. I am involved in developing that club and music; directing since day one. We have an amazing line-up of DJs in the club. It’s great to see a nightclub take a risk as to take me on for Vegas. I’m not a commercial house DJ. I’m not going to play the hits and the big records that everyone hears. I’m going to do my thing, but they hired me and signed me on because they saw something special in that. I always thought it was a risk. They took a risk on me and it worked. You bet on the weird looking horse and pray and if its win, you win a lot of money.
A21: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
SA: Um… five years where I see myself is where I will not be. Every time I’ve imagined myself in a position I have imagined five years before, I’m a different completely place. So I just stop thinking that.
A21: Any advice for aspiring DJs?
SA: Always just be you. Be you and the best you can be. Don’t try to be other people and have fun. That’s it. Be yourself and have fun.
A21: Where can fans download or buy your music?
SA: Most of my music is on iTunes and Beatport. I have a radio series on XM on the Electric Area (channel 80) every Saturday at 9 p.m. You can hear new mixes there and my music. I’m always updating my Facebook Fan Page with new songs, video, and when I change my socks. (On Twitter) I do a lot of college updates so I will try to get to the city early enough (when touring). I’ll get to the college campus and I’ll do live tweeting on the campus like, “Yo, at noon I’ll be at the campus bell tower and bunch of kids will show up.” Then tweet “1:00 me and 25 kids are going be in the science lab” and we ambush the lab. It’s a great time.
A21: I really enjoyed interviewing and talking with Steve. His character is completely genuine, respectful, and very intelligent. If you have not been able to see one of his sets, I recommend experiencing it for yourself.
Read the whole feature here.