Steven Hiroyuki Aoki
(born November 30, 1977) is an American electro house musician, record producer, DJ, and music executive. In 2012, Pollstar designated Aoki as the highest grossing dance artist in North America from tours. He has collaborated with artists such as Iggy Azalea, Afrojack, LMFAO, Linkin Park, Will.i.am, Lil Jon, Blink-182, Laidback Luke, BTS, Louis Tomlinson, Rise Against, Vini Vici and Fall Out Boy and is known for his remixes of artists such as Kid Cudi. Aoki has released several Billboard-charting studio albums as well, notably Wonderland, which was nominated for Grammy Award for Best Dance/Electronica Album in 2013. He is the founder of the Steve Aoki Charitable Fund, which raises money for global humanitarian relief organizations.
Steven Hiroyuki Aoki was born in Miami, Florida, and grew up in Newport Beach, California. He graduated from Newport Harbor High School in 1995, where he was a player on the varsity badminton team. He is of Japanese descent, the third child of Rocky Aoki and Chizuru Kobayashi. His father was a former wrestler who also founded the restaurant chain Benihana. He has two older siblings, sister Kana (who is sometimes called by her middle name “Grace”), and brother Kevin (owner of Doraku Sushi restaurant). His half-sister is model and actress Devon Aoki.
Aoki attended the University of California, Santa Barbara and graduated with two B.A. degrees, one in feminist studies and the other in sociology. In college, he produced do-it-yourself records and ran underground concerts out of his Biko room in the Santa Barbara Student Housing Cooperative, which was located in Isla Vista, a section of residential land adjacent to UCSB. As a concert venue, the apartment became known as The Pickle Patch. Aoki was also involved in student activism at UCSB, being the founder of a Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist League chapter on campus. By his early 20s, Aoki had built his own record label, which he named Dim Mak – a reference to his childhood hero, Bruce Lee.
In March 2010 Aoki released “I’m in the House”, a collaboration with Zuper Blahq-alter-ego of The Black Eyed Peas singer will.i.am. The song charted at No. 29 in the UK Singles Chart in its first week of release, and later entered the UK Dance Chart and the UK Indie Chart, peaking within the top five in each chart. The song was featured on an Episode of MTV’s Jersey Shore, as well as in the feature film Piranha and the trailer for Think Like A Man. Producer-songwriter Lucas Secon confirmed in a May 2010 interview with HitQuarters that he and Rivers Cuomo had recently worked with Aoki on a single.
Aoki’s first solo album, Wonderland, was released January 2012 and features guest vocalists and musicians Lmfao, Kid Cudi, Kay, Travis Barker, will.i.am aka Zuper Blahq, Wynter Gordon, Rivers Cuomo, Lil Jon, Chiddy Bang, Lovefoxxx of CSS, Big John Duncan (former guitarist of the punk band The Exploited), and others. A remix album was released shortly after. On December 11, 2012, Aoki released his first EP, It’s the End of the World As We Know It, which includes three songs. Aoki was nominated for Grammy Award for Best Dance/Electronica Album for Wonderland at the 2013 55th Annual Grammy Awards.
On October 11, 2013, Aoki collaborated with Linkin Park on the song “A Light That Never Comes” that was included on the remix album, Recharged, 18 days later. Several remixes of the song were added on the January 2014 digital download EP A Light That Never Comes (Remixes). “A Light That Never Comes” was used in films such as Expendables 3. Aoki finished in 6th place in the 2013 America’s Best DJ competition-a vote and promotion to find out the country’s most popular DJ conducted by DJ Times magazine and Pioneer DJ.
In May 2015, it was announced that Relativity Productions had acquired the rights to distribute the documentary I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead in the United States. Filmed during the making of his Neon Future double album, the film is focused on Aoki and delves into his family history, lifestyle, music, and his business. It is co-produced by Matthew Weaver and David Gelb, who together had previously worked on the 2011 documentary Jiro Dreams Of Sushi. Among the executive producers are Ryan Kavanaugh and Tucker Tooley.
In February 2018, Aoki announced the release of his five-track EP titled 5OKI, the follow up to his 2016 EP 4OKI. The EP would feature him collaborating with other producers to produce a “cross-genre” track collective. “I’m really putting an emphasis on EDM and I’m putting an emphasis on cross-genre collaboration. For EDM itself I’m making a big statement of re-claiming it as something [that’s] really important to me – kinda like giving back to my community,” stated Aoki prior to the EP’s release. The tracks were released at a weekly interval over five weeks from 23 March to 20 April, with “Mayhem” featuring Quintino releasing on 23 March 2018, followed by “Pika Pika” with Loopers, “It’s Time” with Laidback Luke, “Anthem” with Hardwell, and concluding with “Moshi Moshi” with Vini Vici.
On May 18, 2018, Aoki released new single “Pretender” featuring AJR and rapper Lil Yachty. In June 2018, Aoki remixed Rita Ora’s hit single “Girls” featuring Charli XCX, Bebe Rexha and Cardi B. Later that month, alongside Italian DJ Marnik, they released their version of “Bella Ciao”, which garnered controversy. The new dance music version of the track was deemed inappropriate and insulting by many. On July 20, 2018, Aoki released new single “Lie To Me” featuring singer-songwriter Ira Wroldsen.
Aoki has won and been nominated for a number of industry awards, both in annual competitions and in magazine rankings. In 2007, he was named Best Party Rocker DJ by BPM Magazine, Best DJ of the Year by Paper Magazine, and Best Set of the Season at the Ibiza Awards. Several years later, in 2012, he was named #15 in the Top 100 DJs in DJ Magazine, and was named America’s #2 Best DJ. Also in 2012, he won an EDM Effect Woodie Award by MTVu, and the following year he was nominated for his first Grammy.
Aoki finished in 6th place in the 2013 America’s Best DJ competition conducted by DJ Times magazine, and finished in 8th place in 2013 & 2016 and 10th place in 2014, 2015 And 2017 for DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJs competition. In 2014, Aoki was awarded two Guinness World Records, one for the “longest crowd cheer”, and also for the “most amount of glow sticks for thirty seconds.” Aoki performed at the 2015 Ultra Music Festival in Miami Beach on May 21. He also earned the Guinness record for “most traveled musician in one year”, with 161 shows in 41 countries in 2014.
Since early in his career Aoki has been involved with various charities, and EDM.com named him No. 1 on their list of the eleven most charitable EDM producers. He is the founder of the Steve Aoki Charitable Fund, which raises money for global humanitarian relief organizations and medical research. Among the organization’s fund-raising methods are Aoki’s touring events, “memorabilia auctions”, and collaborations with other artists. In early 2015 he was named as Global Ambassador for the Best Buddies program, which is a non-profit devoted to young people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Also around that time MTV Latin America awarded Aoki the Chiuku Award for humanitarian work. He was presented with the award at the International Dance Music Awards.