Steve Aoki Talks Production Skills, Badminton and Tacos
Electro house musician Steve Aoki is much more than your run-of-the-mill remixer. Besides running the influential Dim Mak record label, Aoki also owns two restaurants, works with artists as diverse as Duran Duran and Drake, has a clothing line, invented his own brand of headphones and plays more than 250 shows a year. And Aoki's music is a mish-mash of old-school punk and contemporary electronica, all played to accompany a pounding, dancehall pulse.
Speaking from St. Louis in anticipation of tonight's show at the Palladium Ballroom, Aoki spoke about his remixing skills as well as his rapidly expanding business empire.
Do you think audiences in our area have a good understanding of your music?
I love to come to Texas and I love Dallas. You guys have a real history of good music. I also love going to Austin and being a part of SXSW. That's one of the best places in the world for a band to break. One of my most memorable shows was in Austin. In Dallas, I've played the Lizard Lounge. It was an amazing show. The crowd knows my music. They are just aware. I don't know what it is, what you guys are drinking or eating. I don't have the answer.
It's probably something meat-related.
Yes, it must be steaks. I need some steaks.
You're a musician, a producer and you own a record label. If you could only do one thing, what would that be?
I have to say producer because that is my calling right now. I love helping developing artists. That has always been an interest of mine.
How long has it been since you've used the Kid Millionaire moniker?
I stuck with my real name back in 2005. In the very beginning it was Steve Aoki Kid Millionaire and that was just too long. Kid Millionaire comes from an Andre 3000 lyric. I was in my early 20s then.
In high school, you were a great badminton player. Do you still play?
No, I don't. I would probably lose to just about anyone today. But I was decent back in the day. I could hit that birdie pretty hard.
Do badminton players get women?
Absolutely not. It wasn't one of the team sports that brought out the ladies.
In college, you majored in Sociology and Women's Studies. Did that course of study affect your ideas about music?
It didn't affect how I make music. But it did have an impact on my life in general. I immersed myself in theory. It helped me keep my head on straight. A bigger influence on me musically was punk, my hardcore roots. It helped me bring an edge to everything, to make things darker and more unique.
Being from Southern California, you must have been exposed to a lot of great punk and hardcore, stuff like Black Flag and Fear.
I was more into the hardcore side of it, like Gorilla Biscuits and Unbroken. Hardcore was more a part of my world. I liked the old straight-edge bands like Minor Threat. These were bands that were around when I was a teenager. Those were the bands that most influenced me.
Your dad, Rocky Aoki, was an Olympic wrestler. Did he win any medals?
I'm not sure what he won, but he was definitely notable. He held his own. I'm not sure what he won, but he was very good at it.
Your father founded Benihana and that became a landmark restaurant for Japanese cuisine.
Yes, he was certainly a positive role model, especially for Asians. He was always business first.
You've become renowned for your remixes of songs by Michael Jackson, Drake and Snoop Dog. Do you get to meet these people?
Sometimes, but not all of the time. I've never met Snoop Dog. I've met Drake and I know Kanye. I've never met Lil Wayne. Luckily, I've met people through making an album. On Wonderland, I got to meet Lil Jon and Travis Barker.
How many dates do you play a year?
On average, about 250. On this current tour, I am trying to do 55 shows in 60 days. That really translates into 63 shows because I play aftershow parties.
How do you maintain your energy level?
I don't drink any energy drinks. I just stick with green tea.
You run your own label, have a clothing line and even co-own a Korean restaurant. What don't you do?
I like having a busy life. I like staying occupied. As long as I go 100 percent in what I do, I am happy.
What's the best dish at your Korean restaurant?
Shin tacos, those things are amazing. I just opened up a new restaurant as well. Food is a big element of life.
Steve Aoki performs with DATSIK tonight, February 3, at the Palladium Ballroom.