Exclusive Interview: Steve Aoki Talks Collaborations, Dim Mak And The Future Of Dance Music


There aren’t too many DJs out there that are as iconic as Steve Aoki. The 38 year-old artist is one of the most well-recognized producers in dance music and has had many, many chart-topping studio albums and tracks, which have helped cement his status as one of EDM’s most influential and exciting producers.

Despite having reached almost legendary status in the industry, Aoki is showing no signs of slowing down. With two parts of his Neon Future album trilogy already released, and a third one in the works, you can expect a lot more new material from him in the coming months.

A few weeks back during Miami Music Week, we were lucky enough to catch up with Steve for an exclusive interview during the Dim Mak press day. We spoke about his frequent collaborations with other artists, what the future holds in store for the dance music scene, how he finds his energy and more.

Check it out below, and enjoy!

For someone who’s been in the industry as long as you have, and for someone who’s so energetic up on stage and always throwing a wild party, how do you not burn out?

Steve Aoki: It’s a good question. This week I’m on the verge of burning out though. At the moment, I’m actually sick. My throat kills. I’ve been doing 2 shows a day, and usually I have limitless energy. I’ve done like 5 countries in 4 days, over in Europe in the past. I’ve done 300 shows in a year, too. This week has been tough though. Right after my shows I’ve been going to sleep, like immediately after.

Have you ever had to cancel a show because you were too tired?

Steve Aoki: I’ve never canceled a show for being too tired. I would only cancel if I was in the hospital and wasn’t able to leave. I usually just soldier through stuff. One time, actually, I was in the hospital, left to go play a show, and then came back to the hospital. I got really sick in Indonesia, ended up in the hospital, left briefly to play my set and then returned.

It’s tough sometimes, but once you get into a routine or cycle, your body just gets used to it. I’m always moving and on the go, so I’m used to it. I nap a lot, as well, which really helps me. I find it more effective than coffee or Red Bull.

You’re known for putting on great live shows and really getting the audience’s energy levels up. What do you think is the key then to building the perfect setlist, to have people dancing and engaged the whole way through?

Steve Aoki: The set has to fit with the crowd. You can’t force a sound on people, you need to be flexible.

Like this week, I’ve been playing a lot of varied sets. The first one was the DJ Mag party, and I didn’t know if it would be a cocktail lounge type thing or a full on rager, so I prepared two different sets, and then I also had a whole other folder of tracks that I could veer off into if I wanted.

And then with the Dim Mak party at Nikki Beach, that’s obviously a more specialized set with a lot of Aoki music plus a ton of Dim Mak music. I brought up a lot of artists as well to play their stuff, and it was all new music that I’d listened to maybe once.

There was also the Ultra Music party which was more house-y. The house sets actually don’t have a sequence, I’m just vibing. I usually don’t even know the first song I’m going to play. In that set I only played three Aoki records, and they were all new tracks. I didn’t drop any of my classics.

Every set is different, it really just depends. If it’s a new crowd, I’d rather have them hear something like “I Love It When You Cry” rather than “Pursuit of Happiness.” Don’t get me wrong, that’s a great song, especially to end with, but they’re probably heard it so much already whereas they may not know some of my newer stuff.