Even at the age of 40, the party never stops for Steve Aoki.
Not that he's complaining. It's his job to travel the world so he can throw cakes at people's faces while dropping beats for thousands of screaming fans every night—it's not a bad gig. And despite routinely playing more than 300 shows a year, the DJ and producer hasn't lost any enthusiasm for his craft, so don't expect him to slow down any time soon.
Aoki, the son of wrestling legend and Benihana founder Rocky Aoki, is back on the road in 2018 in support of his recently released fourth studio album "Kolony." Ahead of his trips to Philadelphia, New York and the Boston area later this month, the Grammy-nominated star explains to Metro why he continues to stay so passionate about his energetic live shows.
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"You think about how many tours I’ve done and how many shows I’ve done. What is the motivating factor? It's the music, man," Aoki says. "It’s the connection, making sure there’s a strong connection with me and my fans, new and old. If I’m able to make music that’s consistently having that relevant connection with them, then that’s really the best feeling."
Aoki is especially excited about his latest tour, as rising hip-hop star Desiigner is joining him for the cross country trips. The rapper also worked with Aoki on a remix of the international hit "Mic Drop" by K-pop group BTS.
Throughout his career, Aoki has made a habit of working with some of the best names in the industry, regardless of what genre they're known for. He's previously collaborated with the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Linkin Park, while his new album features a slew of big names, including T-Pain, Migos, Gucci Mane and Lil' Yachty. Aoki tells Metro that he's currently working on a track with Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine that he can't wait to show fans.
Although he's primarily known as an electro house DJ, Aoki enjoys the challenge of pushing the genre's boundaries by dipping his toes into other types of music.
"I’m always trying to rebuild the wheel and reinvent and transform and evolve the sound," Aoki says. "You want to be enough in the forefront where you’re changing the game for yourself and also being part of pushing the entire culture forward."
"It’s a constant challenge and it’s exciting," he adds. "If you can nail it and if you can really speak that future language that people want to be a part of, that’s really the best feeling."
Besides surrounding himself with music's biggest stars, Aoki generally just likes to hang out with people who are as "energized and driven" as he is, which is how he struck up a friendship with Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. The duo got to party together in South Beach last year, and Aoki admits that he loved every minute that he got to spend with Gronk.
"He’s so full of life. He’s just got so much energy. Like that dude is almost like me, but a football player," Aoki says. "I’m so energized and driven with all the things that I do and I really look in other people to have that same kind of energy and drive. I definitely feel that in Gronk."
As one of the world's highest-paid DJs, Aoki has accomplished quite a bit over the past two decades. And while he hopes for more big collaborations in the future and would love a major gig like a Super Bowl halftime performance—with the Patriots playing, of course—he's just grateful for all the opportunities he's already been given and plans to take things day by day, party by party.
"I never thought I’d be even here, to be honest with you, so you just never know where you’re going to go in your life," Aoki says. "When the opportunity comes, you got to take it and then you got to do the best that you can with it."
Steve Aoki plays the Philmore in Philadelphia Feb. 11, Upstate Concert Hall in New York Feb. 14 and The Palladium in Worcester Feb. 15. Tickets are available at steveaoki.com. Fans can also win free tickets, plus a meet and greet with Aoki, by entering at steveaoki.is/4n4.