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Everett Phelps & Zach Yanowitz

Walk into any club on any given night these days and you’rebound to hear the thumping, robotic sound of an electronic beat.The genre has exploded into a global phenomenon during the past fewyears, headed by DJs armed with beat boxes and laptops. One ofthese DJs is Los Angeles native and multitasking guru Steve Aoki,the founder of Dim Mak Records. Aoki, who recently released hisfirst full-length album Wonderland, is on a nationwide touralongside recent Dim Mak signee Datsik. The tour, which spans 45cities, lasts until the end of June and hits The Sugar Mill in NewOrleans on Saturday, Feb. 4.

Known for wildly entertaining live shows, Aoki often performsstunts including dousing the audience in champagne or indulging inwhat he calls “whiteraver rafting,” the act of crowd surfing on topof an inflatable raft. The Arcade got a chance to talk to Aokiabout the meteoric rise of dubstep, collaborations with otherartists and how he sees the future of music.

When we caught Aoki he was, as usual, busy as hell. The firstthing he told us was how badly he needed to eat, so he answered ourquestions between bites of food. Aoki is a guy whose personaltrademark is doing too many things at once. The son of Benihanafounder Rocky Aoki, Steve started Dim Mak Records when he was 20years old, naming the label after his passion for Bruce Lee movies.Since then, he’s toured the world and has turned Dim Mak into anindustry mainstay, releasing music by such groups as The BloodyBeetroots, MSTRKRFT, Armand Van Helden and The Kills.

His first studio album, Wonderland, was released on Jan. 10. Therecord is a departure from Aoki’s traditional electro-house sound,featuring a distinct dubstep influence. This shift has allowed theproducer to play with different genres ranging from trance tohip-hop, and, fittingly, the album features collaborations thatinclude Kid Cudi, Chiddy Bang, Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker andWeezer frontman Rivers Cuomo.

“Working with guys like Rivers and Cudi take me outside of myown box,” Aoki said.

This genre-blending can be heard in Aoki’s newer material, whichhas rapidly shifted to include elements of funk, punk and hardcore.The DJ and producer wants to “push and evolve music” as new soundsbegin to develop, always looking for something to appeal to wideraudiences.

“Dubstep works because of its compatibility with any other typeof music,” Aoki said. “You name it. It’s all about that massivebass drop.”

As new artists release easily accessible music on the Internet,other musicians must be able to adapt and uncover new combinationsof beats and tempos, challenging music as a whole. Aoki hopes tofind that new sound, and the recent Dim Mak signing of Canadiandubstep artist Datsik is testament to this evolution.

“Certain artists can cross over into the world without any radioor TV coverage, no media influence,” Aoki said, citing wompmasterSkrillex and French electro-house duo Justice as having createdglobal, genre-redefining sounds that can appeal to fans of anymusical style.

“The future is a blurring of the lines.”

 

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