Relentless Beats

Review: Netflix’s ‘I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead’ Sheds an Unseen Light on the Life and Legacy of Steve Aoki

Everyone is only human. We all fight for a goal we have set within our life, whether that is to be happy, to be successful, to be famous, or to mean something to somebody. As a public figure, it can be difficult to escape from the pressure of living up to a certain expectation, and it is easy to fall into the facade of perfection. Justin Krook and Netflix‘s latest film, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, illustrates this perfectly through the life of EDM megastar, Steve Aoki.

For Steve Aoki it was a little bit of everything listed above, but one more so than all the rest: to earn his father’s approval. As Rocky Aoki was out making a name for himself separate from his ex-wife and children, his son, Steve, made it his mission to prove his worth. With insight from Aoki’s brother, mother, sister, manager, and friends within the industry, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead paints a beautiful parallel between Aoki, his father, and their indistinguishable drive to relentlessly top their own accomplishments.

Steve Aoki: I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead | August 19 | Netflix

Rocky Aoki was a non-stop force of pure recreational and professional adrenaline. This was a man who put success before everything, even family. The backlash of this persona resonated through his familial ties, but with no one more so than Steve. As Steve prepares for his massive show at Madison Square Garden, he discusses what it means for his career, but stresses that the impact that it will have on his father’s perception of him is what means the most. As he is brought to tears by the thought of his father’s pride in his son, we realize that Aoki’s public image is in fact a facade.

Playing over 300 shows a year, traveling from Europe to America and back to Europe again in a weekend, Steve Aoki, like his father, never stops. The most fervent aspect of I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead is it’s ability to allow us to see an unadulterated side of a human being who comes off as an indestructible superstar. But more so, this film builds an argument and an understanding of why Steve Aoki is who he is. Steve doesn’t stop because his father didn’t stop; he pushes himself to his limits because his father pushed himself to the limits; he made something out of nothing because his father made something out of nothing.

Just as his father’s career culminated into the massive success of Benihana and a trans-Pacific trip via hot-air balloon, the film wraps up with Aoki’s largest accomplishment to date. Following a missed opportunity with his Madison Square Garden show, Steve plays a free show in the streets of downtown LA, LAoki, in celebration of his album release and to give back to those who got him to where he is now. Playing the cherry to a career that heralded a two-decade old label, a massive culture night in Los Angeles, many irreplaceable relationships, and some timeless tunes, LAoki is only the first of toppings with many more sprinkles, nuts, and sweet sauces to add to his delectable career.

And although Rocky passed away shortly beforehand, Steve knows that despite the troubled past, his father would be proud to say: “That’s my son.”

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead is now available to view on Netflix! Catch Steve Aoki on one of his 300 stops when he makes an appearance at Talking Stick Resort for the Dim Mak 20th Anniversary Party.

Connect with Steve Aoki: Website | Twitter | YouTube | Facebook | SoundCloud

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