For years, the electronic dance music scene in America was somewhat of an underground movement. It peered over the Atlantic, seething at the success of its European cousin who was welcomed into the common zeitgeist with awesome ease. After many long nights on the pavement, the cold and benevolent electronic ambuscade ended, and one of the first to welcome it all was it’s biggest advocate, Steve Aoki.
“The great thing is, t’s a really interesting time right now, that radio and TV no longer dictate what people listen to,” says Aoki. “People are bypassing those means and going straight to YouTube, Facebook and Spotify. That’s how dance music is thriving, that’s how my music is living right now and it’s a completely viral market, so I’m just really happy.”
The LA native comes across as much more cognizant, almost lucid, compared to his achingly enigmatic on-stage persona. The sparkling Aoki brand is almost a quixotic foil to the earthly savvy of the man himself; he lives and breathes music, whether it be the passion for hardcore metal, punk (which fueled his teenage years) or the banging club records that elevated him into his current stratospheric celebrity.
“When I was 13 and was introduced to hardcore and punk, I realised that music just becomes your life. It’s not just something you listen to between destinations, it becomes your destination. Music is where I am all the time and when you love something so much, you don’t want to be away from it… you live for it, and it’s just what keeps you alive.”
Aoki has spent the better part of the last few years burning the midnight oil on his debut long player (excuse the Freudian slip) Wonderland. The long-awaited album is both surprisingly multifaceted and decidedly familiar, qualities, which have been convincing kids to fork out their precious pocket money in droves.
“I’ve somehow cracked the top ten in iTunes which I never thought in my wildest dreams I would do!” he laughs, “One of Australia’s finest producers right now, Tommy Trash has just done an insane remix for Ladi Dadi; it’s just epic!”
Before his commercial collaborations with Afrojack, Lil John and the Bloody Beetroots, most fans knew Aoki simply as the fashionable face of Dim Mak records, which signed then unknown artists Bloc Party, The Gossip and Datarock, paving the way for the crossover club revolution that swept the world in the mid nineties. Since its inception, Dim Mak has managed to stay both relevant and profitable, a rare dual commodity in the modern day music industry.
“In this ‘Ice Age’ for the music industry where a lot of labels have had to fold up, somehow we have been the dinosaur of that time. I think that comes from the fact that all of us at Dim Mak are just great fans of music; music is what drives our business and if we believe in it, then eventually there will be people who believe in us.”
Wonderland is out now.