Steve Aoki has been on top of the game since the formation of his label Dim Mak back in 1996. Always a forerunner in electronic dance music, Aoki has been one of the most influential DJs in the genre. He’s not scared to stray from the path and work with different artists or unique sounds. On his new mixtape Kolony, a rap-feature heavy project, Steve has gotten some of the biggest names to take some verses. However, one of his most successful tracks was the recent “Mic Drop” remix he did for K-pop sensations, BTS, which also features New York rapper Desiigner, whom is currently on the road with the DJ for the “Kolony” tour, which includes a stop in Houston on Friday, March 2. Ahead of his show, FPH spoke with Aoki about the next big wave of music, what it’s like working with Korean superstars and big rappers, and what life as a Grammy-nominated musician is like.
Free Press Houston: On your interview with Larry King the two of you discussed looking towards the future. Whenever I ask the rock bands this question, they tend to give the same, monotonous response, but do you see the music you play being the one to survive longer than the others, especially considering your case, that it’s essentially the “music of the future”?
Steve Aoki: The future of music. I can tell you more about predictions of the general future. The future of music is much more complicated. I think the future of the general civilization is easier to identify. It’s tough to dissect. I’d say the future is — okay, if music is all about tapping into your emotions, that’s basically what music is. You tap into your emotions and it makes you feel something and it makes you want to experience it, so you go to a live show or watch videos of your favorite artist. It’s all about access to your feelings, right? It’s about making it easier, more convenient. So whatever way that music can tap into your feelings and your emotions, that’s what the future of music is going to be. That’s what we’re going to be heading towards. Electronic music is that. It’s one step further because it is a very experiential culture.
FPH: One of your biggest tracks on Spotify is a remix from a Kpop band. The genre has been around for a good minute, but is that going to be the next big thing at least here in the US, K-pop? How did that collab with BTS happen?
SA: Well I also love to work with international artists. That’s really much more my thing, to reach out to someone from, say, Korea, or Brazil. I want to work with artists from all over the world. It was a new way to make music together. BTS was interested in working with me, and I was interested in working with them. We vibed out and had a really great time and then met with the production team. Then we dropped the remix. And yeah, the world really loved it. We got feedback from not just one particular chart, but really from all camps. The Korean BTS fans love it, the American fans love it, you know? Spotify views were through the roof, YouTube views were insane. The live shows are already going very well. So it’s great when you can tap into that and be able to project it out to the world.
FPH: You’re hitting the road with Desiigner Kolony who has had a plethora of rap features; how did he end up being selected to go on tour with?
SA: We knocked it out of the park with the Mic Drop remix, but he wasn’t on Kolony. We vibed real good when we linked up. The energy — he’s so lit. On stage he has so much energy. All of those other guys are great. I would love to tour with any of the artists on the album, but they’re all busy doing their own thing. The timing worked out with Desiigner. It just made sense with the timing, and we recently dropped the Mic Drop remix.
FPH: You’re two-time Grammy nominated. Did you attend/watch it this year? Any thoughts on the winners? Or perhaps who you thought should’ve one?
SA: You know, I didn’t really watch it. I know Bruno Mars won something and people were shook up about. But I’m the person that never really follows up with it.
FPH: Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon tweeted, though I’m paraphrasing, that the award is for the music industry, but that music is for everyone. So do you agree, does the Grammy really mean something outside of industry appraise?
SA: No. No, when you say it that concretely, it doesn’t matter. My ticket sales were the same. It’s basically like you’re being honored for something. It’s, like, the first people would say: Steve Aoki, Grammy-nominated. That might come out in those moments in a speech or something, but besides that, it doesn’t matter much. It’s very music industry oriented. But it’s great to be on the list, on a personal level. It’s a very big deal personally, but it doesn’t change the game for me.
Steve Aoki performs in Houston this Friday, March 2 at Revention Music Center. Tickets for the show are available here.