We harp a lot about DJs who frequently play Vegas but live in LA instead. However, one has finally made the jump: Steve Aoki, who plays exclusively at Hakkasan and Wet Republic. And what’s more, the leaping, caking, crowd-rafting producer and Dim Mak label head actually moved here from LA.
“I love Vegas,” Aoki recently told the Weekly. “I didn’t know I would feel so comfortable about moving, because my heart is definitely in LA. A lot of my building blocks—kind of who I am kind of an artist—all came from being in LA. I thought making that move would be so difficult, but it’s actually been cool.”
Aoki, who has lived in Southern California most of his life, adds that he barely plays LA. With his residency bringing him to Vegas once or twice a month, it made more sense to shack up here. Furthermore, Aoki can record music here—he’s already found a studio he likes—and easily travel to LA should he need to work with other artists.
And that’s the real reason other DJs haven’t moved to Vegas, according to Aoki.
“You want to be close to the action, and in LA there’s always singers, artists, songwriters, collaborators and other producers,” he says. “It’s easy to get access to all that [there], which gives you more opportunity to work records.”
Aoki says the home he bought here is undergoing renovations, so he’s currently holed up in an apartment on the Strip. However, he’s already got his sights set on other parts of the city, including Downtown, where he sees a potential for more businesses that promote healthy living.
“I want to start creating a place and start building there,” says Aoki, who has already met with Tony Hsieh about the Downtown Project. “Living in LA, I’ve opened three restaurants, two of which [have] carefully selected foods. I’d love to get involved in businesses other than music in Las Vegas. I’m trying to be a sponge and take in and explore as many places as possible.”
If you’ve seen Aoki on your social media feeds lately, it’s likely for two reasons. For one, he recently announced the August 12 release of his Neon Future Part 1 album—the second part comes out in 2015—and a headlining gig at Madison Square Garden to be held four days later.
But he’s also been attacked on the Internet thanks to a viral video that pokes fun at him and fellow DJs Laidback Luke and Sander Van Doorn, all sharing a DJ booth in Miami and appearing to be minimally working the hardware. Critics have gone on to say that Luke and Aoki weren’t really DJing, but the latter says that’s not true—it’s a case of convenient editing.
“They probably filmed us the entire time, but they [picked a clip] in between a song, right before you do the actual mix,” Aoki says. “You don’t really mess with the knobs once you find the EQ is in the right place, or unless you put on certain effects on certain parts of a song. You don’t constantly twist through the entire mix. They caught us at that moment in between mixing songs, and we’re all standing there, and it’s a back-to-back set—and that’s another thing: People thought it was pre-recorded. I’ve never played a pre-recorded set in my life.”
He goes on to ardently defend Luke, as have other bloggers who say he’s a superior technical DJ. “Obviously the guy who made the video doesn’t know our backgrounds and he wants to poke fun,” Aoki says. “I think in the end, it’s funny, like a meme where funny sh*t is happening [to people]. But people take it way out of context.”