Steve Aoki

DJ Steve Aoki: New alter ego, new sound in the works

American DJ Steve Aoki will play music from his newly released Neon Future IV album at Marquee Singapore's first anniversary party next Friday. Dutch DJ Nicky Romero, who performed at Marquee Singapore last year, has been using the time off the road
American DJ Steve Aoki will play music from his newly released Neon Future IV album at Marquee Singapore's first anniversary party next Friday. PHOTO: REUTERS

As one of the most recognisable faces in the electronic dance music world, American DJ Steve Aoki, 42, is known as much for his irrepressible on-stage energy and antics as he is for his crowd-pleasing tracks.

Speaking to The Straits Times from his home in Las Vegas, it seems that not even a global lockdown can keep the man down.

He talks about playing during popular online game Fortnite's Party Royale last weekend, working on an alter ego and what he will play at Marquee Singapore's first anniversary party next Friday.

What have you been getting up to under lockdown?

A lot of shows, a lot of livestream DJ sets - it's actually been quite busy. But I like a busy schedule. I don't like to go through a day without having it packed.

For me, sitting around on a couch watching television hurts my soul. I need to be productive, get in the studio and work on something. And I enjoy being at home.

Are you getting any downtime at all?

Downtime for me is having a lot of self-care routines that I've picked up along the way but never did consistently, one of which is breathwork (rhythmic breathing techniques).

Breathwork has been incredible and I do it at sunset every day. It's almost like induced meditation.

I also just got my cold plunge tub, so I just started cold plunging.

Do you think you might keep this up even after lockdown is over?

With anything, as long as you do it for 21 days, your brain starts rewiring to create a positive habit that you end up wanting to do.

How much do you miss going out on tour and playing for crowds in real life?

I miss it tremendously. I've always had the motto that "the road is my home" and I've toured 250 days consecutively for the last 15 years and never below that.

But I have to be realistic because if I dwell on that, I'll make myself miserable - so I'm just waiting it out.

I think it's going to be different and it's never going to be back to what it was. I'll have to accept that.

But I just can't wait for what it looks like and I hope it has the energy there was from before.

Speaking of energy, how do you hype yourself up for gigs now with only a virtual crowd?

The Fortnite set was very exciting... Fortnite is culture now and to be participating in something like that and playing in that realm even with no one in front of me, I knew it was going to reach a lot of people.

I'm going to be doing more of these virtual live sets whenever I can - it's what the new normal is now.

Why is it important for you to play Marquee Singapore's first anniversary gig?

(Tao Group Hospitality co-founders) Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss are good friends of mine, and I love Singapore and the fan base and I'm doing this for the fans.

You put out your Neon Future IV album last month but since you have had so much downtime, have you been working on anything new?

Absolutely. I'm working on a new alter ego, artist name and new sound. I'm not going to say more about that now, because I'd rather have the music be the key to unlocking that door.

What do you hope people will take away from partying with you from the comfort of their own homes?

The DJ set is going to be all about Neon Future IV, so I'll be playing a lot of new remixes and unreleased music in the set. I'll play some of my classic records, but the album has 27 songs to choose from.

Plus I have a remix album coming out very soon which is packed with big names and a lot of different sounds from electronic music.

It's going to be the new Steve Aoki 2020 sound.

Anjali Raguraman

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 14, 2020, with the headline DJ Steve Aoki: New alter ego, new sound in the works. Subscribe