By Alexandria Chong
Celebrating the release of his first ever full-length album, “Wonderland,” Steve Aoki has set off on his biggest tour yet, the “DEADMEAT Winter 2012 Tour.” Recently signing one of dubstep’s hottest new producers, Datsik, to his record label, Dim Mak Records, the two of them have been headlining the tour with openers such as Autoerotique, Dirty Phonics and Mustard Pimp. Taking a little time off from the busy tour, Steve spoke to Muse writer Alexandria Chong and answered a few questions about his new album, the tour and his hair.
Alexandria Chong.: Hey Steve, How’s everything going?
Steve Aoki: I’m great! I’m currently in North Carolina, prepping for a show tonight.
A.C: Sounds awesome! Wonderland is the first full-length album you wrote, produced, and distributed, could you tell me how that feels?
S.A.: It’s the biggest monumental moment in my career. I’m unleashing all of these songs that I’ve been holding inside for so many years. It’s the best feeling to give them to the public and get them out there. I truly believe in every single one of these songs so I’ve been pushing each of them in their own space, and I want people to cheek up on them.
A.C.: What were your inspirations for the new album?
S.A.: The album chronicled all of these past years. I’ve spent three years on this album and I was inspired by all the genres of music out there, from EDM to outside of EDM. The different vocals were a huge influence. For example the collab I did with The Exploited, “The Kids Will Have Their Say,” was a lot more punky and influenced by the Occupy Wall Street movement and the collab I did with Will.i.Am, “Dangerous,” was a little more harder. The dubstep collab I worked on with Kid Cudi and Travis Barker, “Cudi the Kid,” I wrote that in 2007. It was my take on the progressive change on house music.
A.C.: Which of the collaborations on this album was your favorite?
S.A.: The Kid Cudi and Travis Barker mix was my favorite because it took so long to line up and when it finally did, I was so happy. I rewrote and rewrote that song; I must have about five different versions on my studio computer, all with different riffs and bass touches.
A.C.:Any collaborations you didn’t get to do that you’d like to do in the future?
S.A.: I would definitely love to work with Chester from Linkin Park, he’s one of my favorite artists right now. Also, Aesop Rock.
A.C.:What’s it been like on the “DEADMEAT” tour?
S.A.: It’s been amazing. We’ve sold out a majority of our shows. We’ve got the bass following dupstup f**kin’ bass for Datsik and then we’ve got my following, and when you mix those together, it makes a really cool alliance. And then also getting all of the Dim Mak artists to open, you know, Mustard Pimp, Dirty Phonics, you get all these different sounds.
S.A.: Actually, what show am I doing around you?
A.C: I’m going to your show at the House of Blues in Boston on Thursday.
S.A.: Boston’s my f**kin’ favorite. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world. I am so excited, I love love love Boston. It’s an amazing crowd, the people are beautiful, and the energy is always high and positive. In Boston, you’ll experience a multi-dimensional show.
A.C.: Can you describe what one of the performances is like for anyone going to the tour soon?
S.A.: All I have to say is the music is the most important thing. I don’t want to tell you what to experience, you have to come to the show and experience the music for yourself. It is full blow entertainment. I selected all of the tracks I’m going to play. It’s a full blow Aoki tracklist. Each song has its own place in the set. I try to recreate a new experience on each song. And this is why I’m doing the bus tour, why I’m putting so much money into it. We’ve got two buses, a full merch team, a full team of technicians – the full deal. That’s also why I’m happy for Boston, it’s going to be a unique show, exclusive to this tour. Each tour I do I do a different DJ set with different visuals and different tracks.
A.C.: How has your music changed over the years?
S.A.: I’ve been influenced by all kinds of music, with all this diversity of sounds. I’ve been doing samples for the past couple of years but this album was truly about my songwriting and mixing all different sounds from dubstep to electro to punk to progressive to pop. I love all kinds of music: from hip-hop to Johnny Cash, Skrillex to Justice. It’s a new time and everything is blurry. Before EDM was fragmented, you were on one side or the other, either trance or techno and now you can be both at the same time.
A.C.: What is your favorite thing about creating music?
S.A.: My favorite thing has got to be when I am able to finish a song. Sometimes it comes really easy and other times it’s really difficult, it takes a f**kin’ long time. Most you can’t even finish and that’s the reality – I’ve got so many different ideas in my head, but then you only get to see the finished work.
A.C.: If you had to pick a favorite venue out of all the places you’ve performed in the world, which would it be?
S.A.: Dim Mak Studios in Los Angeles. It is where it all started, where we started throwing parties in 2003. It’s been a long ride. We’ve introduced so many new artists, a lot of them at Dim Mak parties including Diplo, A-Trak, Steve Angelo, even Lady Gaga. There’s so much history there and we’re still doing it every single week.
A.C.: What’s Dim Mak working on at the moment?
S.A.: We just signed Datsik, so were pretty excited about that. Bloody Beetroots’ second album is coming out soon via Ultra. My album just came out and I just finished the video for the vocal version of “Tornado”; it’s a f**kin’ sick video. We’ve got tons of sick music coming.
A.C.: Steve, is there anything else you’d like to tell the readers?
S.A.: I’ve got so much new content on my YouTube, subscribe to it, I put new tracks up there every Monday and Thursday if you’re interested in new remixes. Also, if you’re coming to my show, I take a huge group photo with you guys at the end of every show so come check that out!
A.C: Lastly, your hair is a huge signature for you, what’s a fun fact about it?
S.A.: I use hotel shampoo and conditioner and its just a mix of all this random sh*t I put in it. I’m very lazy-guyish about it and I cut it only once a year.
A.C: Thank you for your time and good luck with the rest of the tour!