Love him or hate him, Steve Aoki is absolutely one of the most visible faces of EDM. Some of us on the team including yours truly have been guilty of dismissing him as just a gimmicky DJ who spends more time on cake-throwing than the music he makes. Steve’s recent sit down with Larry King gave a whole new glimpse into the man behind the inflatable raft and we have to admit he has a depth we were completely unaware of. While his on-stage performance appears gimmicky what he has to say off-stage has gained the respect of a big majority of our team.
What struck us about the interview with Larry King was how candid the whole thing was. Larry appeared to be coming from a place of honest curiosity about the world of EDM rather than trying to get subtle jabs in about the scene. Steve Aoki responded by answering the questions in a manner that came about as authentic.
[divider]Of Drugs and Dance Music[/divider]
It’s no secret that EDM DJs rake in a large amount of criticism for the drug use that tends to coincide with their events. Larry asked if this criticism was deserved, and rather than shy away from the subject Steve Aoki fully acknowledged that drugs are present at both EDM shows and other types of festival. Our respect for him skyrocketed when he took it a step further and advocated for harm-reduction rather than an all out ban, unlike other DJs who take a head in the sand approach.
“If you think about it At every major gathering there’s some form of drug use, it’s just unfortunate that EDM or dance music at large gets the spotlight…It’s important there’s education, awareness. There needs to be more awareness of what it means, what can happen… people don’t realize you can die, you can overdose.”
[divider]The Finer Points of Caking[/divider]
Like many of us, Larry King wanted to get to the bottom of where all the cake throwing and rafting came about. It’s no secret that Steve Aoki is a crowd-pleaser, and it turns out the cakes are a way to engage the crowd in a unique way that they won’t get from another DJ. First came the raft, at Coachella 2007. The crowd and Steve had an absolute blast, so two years later he was racking his brain and came across cake throwing as a way to up the ante. Recently he’s also been part of the Life in Color shows and the omnipresent paint that they entail. Larry King was fascinated by all of this, and while the line of questioning was rapid it didn’t come across as interrogative whatsoever. We have suspicions now that Larry might find his way to an Aoki show soon to get first hand experience, especially since he is so fascinated by the cake.
It’s also no secret that Steve Aoki’s father is the famed Rocky Aoki, founder of the Benihana restaurant chain. What came across as a surprise to us was the revelation that while Steve grew up in the wealthy area of Newport Beach, CA he was definitely not pampered or coddled. Steve was definitely a minority in his area, and as a result he faced a lot of discrimination for not looking and acting like the rest of the kids in his area.
“When you grow up and you grow up with racism of any sort you find whatever other alienated kids are left over and you form your own group and that’s basically what happened.”
We were shocked to hear that while his father became very wealthy Aoki and his siblings didn’t have bottomless allowances. It was quite the opposite, Aoki says he father “never, not once” helped him financially. This isn’t to be misinterpreted to say his father was a cold-hearted man, rather he wanted his kids to be able to find their own way out of situations instead of always expecting someone to buy them out of it. That wisdom was understood by Steve, he now wants to raise his children the same way so that they too are able to understand how to support themselves and grow as people. This is a lesson that unfortunately not every adult has to learn.
At the end of it all, we have to humbly admit that we had a little bit of a wrong perception of the kind of man Steve Aoki is. Sure his onstage hijinks will still be the same, but we’ll be able to enjoy his sets a little more knowing that there is so much more to just throwing cakes behind the man on stage. We look forward to seeing what else Aoki has to offer, and now we are itching even more to get the chance to talk to him ourselves. Check out the full conversation below and let us know what you think
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