Steve Aoki - The 'It' Guy
He’s one of the most photographed people on the internet and probably the most name-checked man on the international party circuit. But when you’re responsible for launching Bloc Party in the united states, throwing massive celebrity bashes and you dabble in fashion design, you’re going to be noticed. 3D’s Carlisle Rogers speaks with the hippest of the hip, Steve Aoki, bringing in 2009 in Sydney.
“I know you think you’re the queen of the underground…”
– Dead Flowers, Rolling Stones
The epicentre of Los Angeles’ burgeoning collection of seemingly disconnected cool happenings, Steve Aoki is the queen of the underground. Last year Steve dropped his debut LP, a compilation that defined Steve’s orbit at the time, called Pillowface and his Airplane Chronicles. A rambling collection of songs, a cappella vocals and productions that attempts to redefine what a mixtape really was, Steve says that much of that music is still relevant. “To me it was just a window into the whole electro/hip hop community that has been merging for the last year and a half, people like Santogold, Kid Sister, Mickey Avalon and Spank Rock. It had a bunch of great vocalists that are important now, relevant now, and have been for the last year and a half. And all the other artists like MSTRKRFT and Justice. It’s not about educating people about the newest underground group, it’s more like, ‘here’s what is going on with American hip hop and European electro.’ I still play some of those old songs, even though they are so old.”
Steve says that a fully original album is still on the cards, but not anytime soon. There are a million other things to get through first, like running his clothing label, Dim Mak, touring incessantly and producing other people. “I just finished my first single over the summer and we’re getting the vocals done by Romanthony. That’s called Dead Meat. I have three other projects coming out. I spent some time with the Bloody Beetroots in Italy, in this tiny little city there called Grappa. We’re going to try to release an album together. We put out two songs already, and we’re going to do a whole Dim Mack European tour in January. On the off days we’re going to be living in the studio putting this album together. It’s going to be a live rock band with a live rock-sounding record. We’re already doing some dance productions too.
“I’m doing a lot of projects because they aren’t so long-sided. They are something where I can just go in and start working. I can’t live in the studio for two months because I’m working so much. I may not be able to finish and album, but a single or EP is easier.”
Steve says playing Australia last year was one of the high points of his career thus far, which is saying something for a guy that’s been everywhere and practically owns Los Angeles. “The last tour I did ran through my birthday, in late November. It was so much fun. I always tell people how much I love Australia because of that tour. Melbourne was great. I was in Sydney for a week hanging out with the Ksubi guys and Pav from Modular. I have a lot of friends down there, so it’s fun to come down. It’s a completely different world there – it’s summer there when it’s cold up here. You go down there when it’s cold and you just want to hang out at Bondi Beach all day long.
“This year Dim Mak is working with Ksubi on our ranges, including doing a range of Dim Mak sunglasses alongside the Ksubi designs. I love all kinds of sunglasses. I like the old vintage Alpinas. Those are my favourite, the Alpinas and Carreras. I’m into Ray Bans as well, the early ’80s Frogskins and the Wayfarers. There are so many different kinds of glasses that I like. We threw them all in a hat and George, who is the mastermind behind Ksubi sunglasses, helped out. Ksubi sunglasses are my favourite glasses now. They have all these nerdy frames now that are cool.”
WHO: Steve Aoki
WHAT: Plays Harbour Party at Luna Park / Ministry of Sound NYD ’09 at The Mean Fiddler
WHEN: Wednesday 31 December / Thursday 1 January
MORE: harbourparty.com / ministryofsound.com.au