For Steve Aoki, almost nothing is off limits.
The producer, DJ and founder of Dim Mak Records is known for his on stage shenanigans — like throwing large sheet cakes into his audiences and dousing the front rows with magnum bottles of pricey champagne. But he’s also set several random Guinness World Records for things like being the most traveled musician in one year, playing 161 shows in 41 countries in 2012. He also holds the record for the most people simultaneously holding and lighting glow sticks at the show at one time.
Back in 2013, he set a record for having the longest and loudest crowd cheer after having Kid Cudi come out to perform “Pursuit of Happiness” at a show at the Shrine Expo Hall in Los Angeles.
And he plans on bringing that same type of big energy back to the Shrine when he takes over on Friday, March 10.
DJ Steve Aoki will headline the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall in Los Angeles on March 10. (Photo by Mike Coppola, Getty Images for ASICS America)
DJ Steve Aoki will headline the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall in Los Angeles on March 10. (Photo by Emma McIntyre, Getty Images for SHEIN Together Fest 2021)
“I’ve had probably the most epic moments of artists coming out at the Shrine,” Aoki shares with a laugh during a recent phone interview. “There’s so many memories I’ve made through the years at that venue, and Los Angeles is where my career started. It was home for so long, so it’s always a big one for me. The last time I played there, Vin Diesel came out on stage to cake me. So you really never know what’s going to happen, and it’s always last minute and impromptu, but that makes it even better.”
After finishing a whopping 250 shows in 2022, with plans to do that same number or more this year, Aoki’s out on the road supporting his latest album, “HiROQUEST: GENESIS,” which dropped in September. It’s also the fastest-selling tour he’s done in his 16-year touring career, he reports. The record dives deep into Aoki’s angsty rock past, tapping into guitar and punk-driven melodies and it features acts like Taking Back Sunday, Sueco and Grandson.
Pulled together during the height of the COVID-19 shutdowns, it was a chance for the now 45-year-old DJ to get in touch with his roots, pick up a guitar and jam, forming what turned out to be a 25-track record. It’s not all punk either, as Aoki easily sways between pop, country and Latin reggaeton, mixed with his classic EDM style.
“I’m always going to be informed by my environment,” he said. “And usually, I’m just touring a lot and while touring, I just see what’s culturally relevant or what’s happening in my circle. But because I had to reset during the pandemic, it was just me picking up a guitar more often than I ever did and experimenting.”
“The affinity to find rock singers aligned when I started to go on that path and the highway started filling up with artists,” he continued. “I’m an A&R man at heart and an explorer by nature, so anything that will make me stop in my tracks is what I like to create with. So I was looking not only for the veterans, but the new generation that was doing something different. Working on the album just brought me back to being in a band again.”
Before Aoki became one of the highest-grossing EDM artists in the world, he was part of the hardcore and punk scenes in Orange County, which ultimately lead to the birth of his Los Angeles-based Dim Mak Records in 1996. The label first took flight by releasing records from alternative acts like Bloc Party, The Kills and MSTRKRFT. Dim Mak Tuesdays were also part of the early scene, where up-and-coming acts like Lady Gaga and friends Kid Cudi and Kanye West, would take the stage during these intimate events with a house party vibe.
More than ever, Aoki ensures that the next round of upcoming artists are cared for with Latin imprint of the record label, Dim Mak En Fuego. Since 2020, Aoki has enlisted Latin acts like AQUIHAYAQUIHAY, Andrekza Andreina, 2DEEP and La Favi to come on board.
Instead of the standard Dim Mak routine where new records are pumped out almost every week, Aoki’s more concerned about the overall progression of the artists themselves, he said.
“When you start to work with a certain sound or movement, you realize how much is out there, and that’s what exactly happened when I began to work in the Latin space,” Aoki said. “When I discovered some of these artists, I realized it’s not about having them as features on my songs, but rather that they needed their own platform. That was really the seed of how I grew Dim Make En Fuego. I knew I wanted to make this differently to scale their music to a global audience. I knew if we did it through Dim Mak, we wouldn’t have the same impact if we just started another label. There is such a healthy community that supports it, and I love watching them blossom and do their thing.”
As an explorer, Aoki plans to travel to the moon, too. He was selected among eight others to join a commercial space flight around the moon on Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starship spacecraft, set to take off later this year. Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa comprised the mission with all expenses paid for. Although Aoki can’t spill too much on the forthcoming mission, he’s focused on gratitude and living life to the fullest, in space or on Earth.
“It’s still a dream to me that it’s actually happening, but like most things in life, you don’t know if it’s going to happen until you’re actually in the starship,” he said with a chuckle. “I never take anything for granted. I always remind myself that this could end and anything can happen, so you have to give it all you’ve got. I get emotional when I think about it, but when I get into the actual modality of gratitude and being alive, anything is possible.”
Steve Aoki When: 9 p.m. Friday, March 10
Where: Shrine Expo Hall, 665 W. Jefferson Blvd., Los Angeles
Tickets: $39.50-$49.50 at axs.com.