Steve Aoki

  • Electronic Dance Music DJ and songwriter born in 1977 in Miami Florida.
  • Aoki double majored in college at University of California Santa Barbara, balancing academics with a love of music and student activism. While in school, he got involved in the hardcore punk rock scene by writing for a small magazine. As such, he would receive demos from artists who were interested in getting exposure. He started running underground concerts around campus. By 1996 he formed his own record label, Dim Mak Records. He started to produce albums for the hardcore bands that he liked. After graduation, he had to decide between graduate school or running his record label full time. He chose the latter.
  • His record company hosted parties at bars in Los Angeles, and more bands and fans learned about him. By 2001. the label got national recognition when it released an EP by punk band Pretty Girls Make Graves, and the following year, the release of the debut album by The Kills increased its exposure. The label expanded to indie rock artists in 2003. In 2004, a friend suggested that he start to DJ at clubs, since Aoki owned over 15 thousand records. He began to play at clubs, focusing on hip-hop, rock and electronic music. His reputation continued to grow.
  • In 2007, he released his first DJ mixtape, Pillowface and His Airplane Chronicles. It was a mix from 16 EDM and rock artists – it debuted at #8 on the Dance/Electronic Albums chart. He began to tour as a DJ, gaining a large following primarily from college students. By 2009, he was playing shows internationally. In March 2010, he released his first single, a collaboration with Zuper Blahq (the alter-ego of will.i.am) – I’m In the House. It charted in Europe, reaching #1 on the UK Indie chart and #3 on the UK Dance chart. He began to make EDM remixes of music from many high profile artists, including Drake, Michael Jackson and Lenny Kravitz. His first entry on DJ Magazine’s list of the top DJs was in 2011, where he was ranked at #42.
  • He released his debut studio album in 2012. Wonderland. It contained 16 EDM tracks, each with a guest vocalist. It peaked at #59 on the Billboard 200 and at #6 on the Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart. The album received a Grammy nomination for Best Dance/Electronica Album. Later that year, he released a remix version of the album, and in December he released an EP of three new EDM singles. His ranking on the list of top DJs shot up to #15 that year.
  • In 2013, Aoki released his first single to chart on the Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart – a collaboration with EDM producers Chris Lake and Tujamo named Boneless. It reached #17 on the chart. It was his first of over 25 songs that would chart between 2013 and 2020. He reached the top 10 during this period with A Light That Never Comes (featuring Linkin Park), a vocal version of Boneless (featuring Kid Ink), Just Hold On (featuring Louis Tomlinson), All Night (featuring Lauren Jauregui) and Waste It On Me (featuring BTS).
  • Aoki released five studio albums and four EPs between 2014 and 2021. Two of them topped the Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart. He cracked the top 10 of the Top DJ list in 2013, and he hovered between #7 and #11 on the list for the next eight years. In 2015, a documentary on his life in the EDM world premiered on Netflix – I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead received a Grammy nomination for Best Music Film. In 2019, he published a memoir titled Blue: The Color of Noise. The book covers the highs and lows of his life.
  • I’ve always liked EDM music, and the film I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead really showed the awesomeness of his high energy performances at music festivals. The shows are absolute spectacles of laser lights and tens of thousands of people – I guess I’m too old to attend in person. Forbes called him the world’s hardest-working DJ in 2013, playing 300 shows a year and still managing his record company. Here’s a video of Aoki with Delia at a festival in Italy performing The Last Bella Ciao in 2021 – it is a good way to see how big these live EDM productions are.

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