It’s hard not to have a good time with Steve Aoki. In between working on his string of electronic club bangers and his cake-throwing show antics, Aoki, 36, simply wants to fulfill a nonstop mission to spread smiles among his fans. SheKnows got on the phone with the EDM mastermind on Wednesday and spoke to the DJ about his just-released sophomore album Neon Future (Part 1), how he plans to show off a new side of himself and the one time he majored in women’s studies during college.
Before getting into his music, SheKnows had to know his secret to his nonstop lifestyle. It’s even earned him the Guinness title as the most-traveled musician in one year with 161 shows in 41 different countries. After a brief chuckle, he says, “I think it’s just a matter of adaptation… When you stop and go, that’s even harder. I’d rather just be on the go and then figure out how to adapt the life that I need to be able to achieve the things that I’m doing.”
It’s that consistent work schedule that has helped him create his new album Neon Future (Part 1), which reads like a Top 40 programmer’s wet dream. It boasts collaborations with will.i.am, Bonnie McKee and Fallout Boy. Even though it includes a glorious array of guests, some reviewers claimed the set fell short of expectations with only 10 tracks. Aoki derailed the criticism with one very good explanation.
“I wrote all the songs on at the same time. I had over 20 songs,” he explains. “It just doesn’t make sense to do an 18-song album. It’s better to split it up and give each song its own life, so you don’t have to compete so much.”
Neon Future (Part 2) will surely be a treat for Aoki fans with another batch of collaborations, including Linkin Park and Nervo. However, it’s the collaboration with Walk Off the Earth that Aoki says might be the game-changer. “It’s going to show another side of my music that people will not expect at all,” he says.
Before his days in front of EDM thresholds like Tomorrowland and Electronic Daisy Carnival, Aoki was just your average college student majoring in women’s studies. One of the department’s only two males, to be specific. “I was like ‘F*** it. I might be one of the only two guys in this whole department, but I’m going to do it,'” he recalls. As for his take on the current surge in feminist discussion, Aoki says: “Whenever I see anyone that stands up and really takes a lot of criticism for something like that, it means a lot to me.”
Aside from his genuine interest in his professor’s teachings, Aoki’s mom, Chizuru Kobayashi, might have also played a strong role in his reasons for wanting feminist teachings in college. Asked what his mom thinks of his hectic DJ lifestyle, he says, “I think she’s really proud. In the very beginning, there was all these things. I was just like any other unknown DJ trying to make something out of nothing.”