Watch it Wednesday: Steve Aoki, Nicky Romero, & Kiiara – ‘Be Somebody’
October 17, 2018
October 17, 2018
Two-time Grammy-nominated producer/DJ Steve Aoki today stands as one of the most successful American cross-genre artists, solidified via his numerous releases, multiple awards, billions of music and video streams and innovative cross-platform projects.
At the core of it all, Aoki is a visionary, a road he’s traveled since the humble beginnings of Dim Mak Records, the trendsetting record label, events/lifestyle company and apparel line he founded in 1996. For over two decades, Dim Mak Records has remained one of the leading independent record labels in modern music, having served as the launch pad for global acts like The Chainsmokers, Bloc Party, The Bloody Beetroots, The Gossip and The Kills, among many others. In 2014, Dim Mak unveiled its 500th release, followed by its 20-year anniversary in 2016. Today, the label counts more than 1,000 official releases from the biggest acts and most buzzing newcomers across EDM, indie rock, hip-hop and beyond.
That same enterprising mentality now drives Aoki’s ambitious Neon Future series (released via Ultra Music/Dim Mak), an ongoing thread of connected semi-concept albums that delve into Aoki’s deep interest in futurism through technology and explores timely themes of singularity, biotechnology, electronic immortality and the symbiotic relationship between man and machine. Officially launched in 2014 with the inaugural installment, Neon Future I (certified gold by the RIAA), followed by Neon Future II (2015), the series features high-profile collaborations with artists from across multiple genres including will.i.am, Linkin Park, Snoop Dogg, Fall Out Boy and others, as well as leading figures in pop culture and technology including Google’s Director of Engineering Ray Kurzweil, theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate Kip Thorne and director/producer J.J. Abrams. Originally conceived as a futuristic concept series, Neon Future is Aoki’s most pop-driven creative output to date. An innovative multiplatform approach, the Neon Future series fully encompasses all of Aoki’s multimedia properties, from his music, videos and social media all the way through the albums’ artwork, which depict Aoki in various stages of his physical transformation from man to machine.
“Neon Future focuses on where we are going with our technology, our society, our humanity, our culture — essentially, an idyllic utopian vision of the future,” Aoki says. “I started seeing the concept of science fiction becoming science fact. I wanted to explore all that in my music with a scientific conversation, so I created the idea of Neon Future. This is my version of having this conversation with the world.”
The Neon Future series now enters its final chapters with Neon Future III and Neon Future IV, scheduled for release November 2018 and Spring 2019, respectively, on Ultra Music/Dim Mak. The two concluding albums include confirmed collaborations with Blink-182, via their long-awaited collaboration “Why Are We So Broken”; Mike Posner, on the introspective “A Lover and a Memory”; and EDM star Nicky Romero on “Be Somebody,” featuring Kiiara.
Aoki is renowned for his adventurous attitude toward genre-defying collaborations, which has seen him join forces with A-listers like Migos and Daddy Yankee, among many others, as well as rising up-and-comers alike. In 2016, Aoki enlisted One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson for the global hit “Just Hold On,” which they performed together on the series finale of The X Factor in the UK. Debuting at #1 in more than 40 countries, the track has since gone gold or platinum in 18 countries. Elsewhere, he’s collaborated with rap star Desiigner on his remix of the BTS track “MIC Drop,” which became the highest-charting song by a K-pop group in US history and the first to go gold, as well as Fifth Harmony’s Lauren Jauregui for his track “All Night,” which hit #1 on the iTunes dance chart. In 2018, Aoki released the Spanish-language track “Azukita,” featuring an all-star cast of Latin pop legends: Daddy Yankee, Play-N-Skillz, and Elvis Crespo, all of whom joined him for a live performance on the main stage of Ultra Music Festival.
As a solo artist, Aoki boasts a lauded discography that also includes: Wonderland (2012), his debut solo album, which garnered him his first-ever Grammy nomination for Best Dance/Electronica Album; Neon Future I (2014) and Neon Future II (2015); and his most recent album, Steve Aoki Presents Kolony (2017). Debuting at #1 on the iTunes Dance Albums charts, Kolony sees Aoki fully crossing into the hip-hop realm via collaborations with top rap and R&B acts including Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Yachty, Migos, 2 Chainz, Gucci Mane, iLoveMakonnen, T Pain and more. Collectively, Aoki’s music has amassed 1.5 billion streams on Spotify, with an additional 2 billion music streams on YouTube.
In addition to multiple EPs, singles, and remixes, Aoki’s 2016 Netflix Originals documentary film I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead captures his career to date and chronicles his family upbringing, personal life and long-winding career from a scrappy entrepreneur to mainstage superstar. Premiering to a sold-out audience at Tribeca Film Festival, the film garnered Aoki’s second Grammy nomination in 2016 for Best Music Film and has been globally released in more than 190 countries.
Recognized by Forbes as one of the top 5 World’s Highest-Paid DJs of 2018 and the World’s Hardest-Working DJ, Aoki is “one of the most in-demand entertainers in the world” (Billboard), counting over 250 tour dates per year and officially holding the Guinness World Record as the “Most Traveled Musician in a Single Calendar Year” (2012). In addition to multiple headlining tours, he’s performed at nearly every top festival around the world including Coachella, Ultra Music Festival, Lollapalooza, Fuji Rock Festival, Tomorrowland, Electric Daisy Carnival and more. He’s also remained a leading figure in DJ Mag’s coveted Top 100 DJs annual poll, ranking in the Top 10 consecutively over the last five years.
Beyond music, Aoki is also a fashion designer/entrepreneur and philanthropist. In addition to collaborations with major fashion and lifestyle brands like Converse and Bathing Ape, Aoki debuted his very own Dim Mak Collection streetwear line in 2016, which he later presented at New York Fashion Week in 2017. He is also a global ambassador for several international brands including ASICS and Diesel. In 2012, he founded THE AOKI FOUNDATION, which primarily supports organizations in the brain science and research areas and has donated over $500,000 to date.
—John Ochoa, July 2018
Neon Future III (November 2018) and Neon Future IV (April 2019)
from Steve Aoki are scheduled for release on Ultra Records/Dim Mak Records