Steven Hiroyuki Aoki
November 30, 1977 (age 39)
Dim Mak, Ultra Music, Spinnin', Ministry of Sound
He has collaborated with numerous producers and vocalists including will.i.am, Afrojack, LMFAO, Iggy Azalea, Lil Jon, and Laidback Luke, and is known for his remixes of artists like Kid Cudi.
Aoki was born in Miami, Florida, and grew up in Newport Beach, California. He graduated from Newport Harbor High School in 1995, where he was a player on the varsity badminton team. He is of Japanese descent, the third child of Rocky Aoki and Chizuru Kobayashi. His father was a former wrestler who also founded the restaurant chain Benihana. He has two older siblings, sister Kana (who is sometimes called by her middle name "Grace"), and brother Kevin (owner of Doraku Sushi restaurant). He also has three half-siblings, Kyle, Echo and Devon. As a child, Steve lived with his grandfather and grandmother, his mother, and his two older siblings.
Aoki attended the University of California, Santa Barbara and graduated with two B.A. degrees, one in feminist studies and the other in sociology. In college, he produced do-it-yourself records and ran underground concerts out of his Biko room in the Santa Barbara Student Housing Cooperative. As a concert venue, the apartment became known as The Pickle Patch. By his early 20s, Aoki had built his own record label, which he named Dim Mak – a reference to his childhood hero, Bruce Lee.
Aoki founded his own label, Dim Mak Records, in 1996. Aoki teamed up with Blake Miller of the LA based band Moving Units to produce remixes, under the moniker Weird Science.
In May 2006, Aoki became a board member for MC5 bassist Michael Davis' Music Is Revolution Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides music education support within public schools. Aoki's debut mix album, Pillowface and His Airplane Chronicles was released in January 2008.
He has remixed many artists and bands, including The Jackson 5, Drake, Kanye West, Eminem, Lil Wayne, Mike Posner, Girls Generation, All American Rejects, Refused, The Killers, Bassnectar, Lenny Kravitz, Bloc Party, Snoop Dogg, Robin Thicke, S.P.A., Kid Cudi, Fërnando Oviedo, Chester French, and Peaches. On November 10 2009, Aoki released a remix for Drake's song "Forever". The song features Drake, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, and Eminem. The track made it to the top of Hype Machine chart in December 2009.
Aoki gained huge support due to his relentless touring schedule. He is widely known for his acrobatic crowd surfing stunts, throwing cake at fans, spraying champagne bottles, and riding rafts on the dance floor. Performing an average of 250 shows a year, he has recently started touring with production via bus tours. In Spring 2012, his Deadmeat Tour saw Aoki headline more than 55 cities in 60 dates across the United States and Canada. Many artists Aoki collaborates with make appearances on tour with him. He has also played lesser-traveled regions – in 2009 he played a show in Beijing, China with Diplo at a night organised by promoters Split Works. In July 2012, Aoki was added to the Pollstar Top 100 North American Tours in their 2012 Mid Year Report. The list designated Aoki as the highest grossing dance artist in North America for the first half of the year.
In March 2010 Aoki released "I'm in the House", a collaboration with Zuper Blahq—alter-ego of The Black Eyed Peas singer will.i.am. The song charted at No. 29 in the UK Singles Chart in its first week of release, and later entered the UK Dance Chart and the UK Indie Chart, peaking within the top five in each chart. The song was featured on an Episode of MTV's Jersey Shore, as well as in the feature film Piranha and the trailer for Think Like A Man. Producer-songwriter Lucas Secon confirmed in a May 2010 interview with HitQuarters that he and Rivers Cuomo had recently worked with Aoki on a single.
Aoki's first solo album, Wonderland, was released January 2012 and features guest vocalists and musicians LMFAO, Kid Cudi, Kay, Travis Barker, will.i.am aka Zuper Blahq, Wynter Gordon, Rivers Cuomo, Lil Jon, Chiddy Bang, Lovefoxxx of CSS, Big John Duncan, and others. A remix album was released shortly after. On December 11, 2012, Aoki released his first EP, It's the End of the World As We Know It, which includes three songs. Aoki was nominated for Grammy Award for Best Dance/Electronica Album for Wonderland at the 2013 55th Annual Grammy Awards.
In 2013, Aoki finished in 6th place in the 2013 America's Best DJ competition-a vote and promotion to find out the country's most popular DJ conducted by DJ Times magazine and Pioneer DJ.
The first part of Aoki's two-part album, Neon Future I, was released on Dim Mak Records and Ultra Records on September 30, 2014. In the United States it peaked at #32 on the Billboard 200, #1 on Dance/Electronic Albums, and #4 on the Independent Albums chart. In Belgium, it reached #68 on the Ultratop 200 Albums chart.
In May 2015, the Aoki documentary I'll Sleep When I'm Dead was released in the United States. Filmed during the making of his Neon Future double album, the film delves into Aoki's family history, lifestyle, music, and business.
Neon Future II was released on May 12, 2015 through Dim Mak. Among other artists, the second Neon Future featured Snoop Lion and Rivers Cuomo. It peaked at No. 2 on the US Dance/Electronic Albums chart. In Belgium it reached No. 93 on the Ultratop 200 Albums chart.
Relationship with One Direction
Steve Aoki began publicly associating with Louis Tomlinson in July 2016. The two began regularly attending nightclubs and dance parties together, where Aoki would often DJ. In November, the pair travelled to Las Vegas together and rumours began to spread of a possible collaboration. On December 1, The Sun reported Tomlinson had previewed music produced by Aoki with Syco Music bosses, who approved of the material. On December 9, a formal statement was releases announcing the passing of Tomlinson's mother, Johannah Deakin. The statement noted that it was Deakin's dying wish for Louis to release his first single, Just Hold On, and perform it as tribute to her at the 2016 The X Factor (UK) grand finale. On December 10, Tomlinson and Aoki's song was released and hours later, they performed it live together at Wembley Arena, as part of the X Factor finale. After the performance, Simon Cowell noted Tomlinson's bravery and thanked Aoki for being a great friend to Louis. Aoki tweeted numerous messages of support to Louis, including: "Everyone send love and strength to Louis Tomlinson and his family. So so sorry my brother. We're all here for u". In response to Louis tweeting "@steveaoki, you have been such a rock and inspiration throughout this ! Pure talent and a real gent !", Aoki tweeted back: "U were the rock my brother. U are my inspiration. U have the biggest fucking heart and I'm so proud of u. Blew us all away for her." He also followed Louis's One Direction bandmates on social media, on December 11. Aoki promoted Just Hold On with Louis Tomlinson throughout January and February 2017, performing the track live on a number of US chat shows. On March 25 2017, Aoki and Tomlinson performed at the Ultra Festival together.
On working with Louis, Aoki stated: "I learned a lot! We created this song together from A to Z. It was not like, “I’m going to create everything, Louis puts the voice and we throw”. No. We did it together, with piano chords, testing melodies, changing the lyrics. It was a great collaborative experience. We wanted to make great music, with no strings attached. We worked freely, and learned a lot in the process."
- He is the founder of the Steve Aoki Charitable Fund, which raises money for global humanitarian relief organizations.
- On July 1, 2016, it was announced that Aoki would make an appearance as both a musical contributor and non-playable character in the video game Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2.
- He spoke about being a fan of One Direction in 2014, stating: "I’m a fan of ‘Story of My Life’ by One Direction. I like that song. You know, it’s important to be able to not know who the artists are sometimes and listen to music just to hear if you like it. That’s one of those songs where I’m like, ‘oh yeah, this song’s dope!’ and they’re like ‘oh, that’s by One Direction!’ ‘The boyband? Oh, damn! That’s dope, that’s cool, man.’ So like, that opened my whole mind up to loving boybands."