Steve Aoki: Not necessarily a hipster

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The last time inthemix spoke to Steve Aoki, the burning question was: Who the fuck is Steve Aoki? Less than a year down the track, there’s little confusion about just who the Dim Mak head-honcho is. As well as being the founder of one of the most prominent dance music labels around; he’s a DJ, producer, LA scenester and even a fashion designer. Now, with the release of his first full-length studio album Wonderland imminent, Steve Aoki is on the verge of adding another very-shiny notch to his belt. In the lead-up to the big release, we took a few moments out with the man to discuss why the dance industry is becoming self-sufficient, “fuckin’ hair gel” and not necessarily being a hipster.

Hi Steve. So your album is about to drop, what can we expect from it?
This album has a lot of different defining bits for me, personally. You know, I spent 3-4 years building this project so to me it’s not just an album; it’s a collection of work I’ve been working on for some time. And I’m just so happy it’s all out now, because I’ve been saving all these tracks. In the meantime, I've been putting out these club singles that kind of define me as an artist in one space, in the club world. So to put out these records as diverse as they are, and working with all these artists – vocalists, rappers, and making a funky record, a dubstep record, a progressive record, a hardcore/electro record – I really wanted to go across the spectrum of music that influenced me.

Yeah, because I was going to ask – even though you’ve been in the game for over ten years now, this is your first full studio album – why did you wait so long to put it out?
Well, in the beginning there was no deadlines for me, I didn’t really have a goal in mind. As a DJ, you don’t really need to put out an album to survive. You can tour off singles and people will still care about coming to see your live show or being excited by your music, if you put out a single that mixes things up a bit. So I thought I’d put out a couple of singles here and there on the sideline and saved them for this project, this album. And at the end of 2010 I was like “that’s it, I have come to a point where I need to finish this thing”, so every day that I was home in Los Angeles, because I was away a lot doing gigs, so every day I was home I would be working in the studio. I did like 100 days in the studio to finalise all these tracks and get them done, and here it is.

There’s lots of big name collabs on the album. Which was your favourite to record?
There was no real favourite, in all honesty, because they’re all unique and everyone I worked with was amazing. There are unique stories: like working with Redfoo from LMFAO, in the six hours that we worked together to do his vocals we talked music together the whole time, like music theory and just had a great time. He’s just fast; he’s intuitive, like with a song – an instrumental – he can write to it really quickly.

It seems as though the music scene in LA has quite a social aspect to it, I get the impression that a lot of people come to collaborate because they’re friends already. Was that true for you?
Yeah, it’s a very convenient place for me to have my studio and for me to get my album done. The album’s called Wonderland because I live on Wonderland Ave, and that’s where my studio is, so it is a really great place for music. Some people live here – like for example Travis Barker, will.i.am is here, Kid Cudi is here, Rivers Cuomo lives in LA. LMFAO is from LA, I’ve known those guys forever. And a lot of people come to LA, so it made things a lot easier.

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