Steve Aoki on Recent EDM Show Deaths: "We Don't Want That Stain on This Music Culture."
For starters, EDM is huge these days. It's everywhere -- in Top 40 radio, in background music, in commercials. And its artists are drawing bigger crowds to their shows than ever before. But the EDM scene is also facing some struggles of late. As its popularity grows, so too does word of the dangers surrounding live displays of the genre.
Earlier this month, we caught up with Aoki -- a guy who can safely be called the hipster DJ of the universe -- and spoke with him about the festival, the current state of EDM and more. To his credit, he was rather candid about it all -- the genre's increased popularity, its drug associations, the ways in which technology has made EDM music easier to create and so on.
Read our Q&A with him in full after the jump. Oh, and keep your eyes peeled for another Q&A with DJ and producer Kaskade coming later today.
You're a little bit into the festival at this point. How's it going?
A lot of fun. For me, I get to debut my live show. It's something I've been planning for four or five months, and I've finally unveiled it to the crowd now. It's a whole new production for me. It requires a rig, a truck following the bus. It requires a lot of work.
When I interviewed Kaskade, he said the dress rehearsal he had for Identity was the first one he's ever done for a show. Is it the same for you?
Yeah, I checked out Ryan at the dress rehearsal, and his set is amazing. He has like two buses. We're both kind of like, "It's a lot of work, it's a lot of stress, it's a lot of money, it's a lot of time, it's a lot of labor." But in the end, because we can travel by bus, we can actually bring production.
Is it the first tour you've done by bus?
I did a bus tour in '07 with a friend of mine, Danny Masterson. We did like a Laverne & Shirley fun DJ tour, and we got sponsors to pay for the bus. But this is officially my first bus tour.
What, specifically, was your involvement in putting this festival together?
We got involved with doing a Dim Mak stage. There's three stages for this event. We teamed up with the Identity people and put the stage together and I mean, it's, like, revolving. So some artists are changing, but for the most part it's myself, DJ Shadow, Nero, Datsik and Holy Ghost!, which is a band on DFA. So it's a pretty cool stage.
I mean, yeah, anyone who dies at any festival, it's a tragedy. It's horrible to hear when anyone dies. But I have to say when you put that many people together you never know what to expect. And it's so hard to control something of that range. Let's say you go to a soccer game, and it's like how many tens of thousands of people there? It's unfortunate when someone gets trampled on or does something like that. In any case, these things happens, and it's really shitty that it affects the electronic community. People are coming for the music, and there's going to be some fucking idiots that are going to come here and sell drugs and do drugs, and that's something that I'm not promoting for sure. And I think most of us, we don't want that, we don't want that stain on this music culture, we want to keep it thriving and positive and growing. And, even for myself, I don't even drink, I don't even do any drugs, and that's not something that I really care to publicly share often. For me, this music is my life. It's what I really want to do.