Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Aug 21st
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Punk at Heart

music_SteveAokiOutcast turned electro musician, Steve Aoki, makes nonconformity cool
As a young boy growing up in Newport Beach, Steve Aoki stuck out like a sore thumb. He was too small to fit in with the jocks, he had a traditional Japanese home wherein no English was spoken, he loved rock music, and his father, a former Japanese Olympic wrestler and the founder of the Benihana restaurant chain, was an estranged figure living on the east coast.

“The status quo is very conservative, one-sided, with not much character,” Aoki says of Newport. “You’re either in, or you’re very out.”

When he couldn’t break into the athletic circle as a teenager, Aoki was welcomed with open arms into the punk community—a niche that the now-electro house musician credits as his inspiration in song and in life.

“The punk rock scene in Newport Beach was thriving—it’s very much like Revenge of the Nerds,” says Aoki, who began making music at 16. “Before I was introduced to electronica, I was a live rock guy, recording tracks in my bedroom; that became my life.”

Today, Aoki’s eclectic musical influences are ever-present in his rave-ready tracks—high energy techno remixes of songs by a myriad of artists from all genres including Drake, Robin Thicke, Bloc Party, Snoop Dogg and Duran Duran.

“It’s the same kind of musical ethos I grew up with,” says Aoki. “It’s the evolution of an ideology that started when I was 13—the punk spirit. As I became more educated, I was able to make it more sophisticated.”

A graduate of UC Santa Barbara—he has a B.A. in Women’s Studies and another in Sociology—Aoki has come a long way since producing underground concerts at the Santa Barbara Student Housing Cooperative in Isla Vista and churning out DIY records.

On average, Aoki says, he’s on tour 250 days of the year; he’s the head of Dim Mak record label, named after his childhood hero Bruce Lee; and this summer he’s releasing his second album and launching a full range fashion line, which he’s been prepping for years.

Asked how he feels to be one of the biggest names in dance music, Aoki says, “Tired. I was doing more touring earlier in my career, but I needed to bring myself back and create a more meaningful show for people.”

His stop by the Civic Auditorium tonight, is one of many on his nationwide tour to promote his upcoming album, a labor of love, which has taken three years to complete.

“It’s one of those projects that you think is never going to be finished—things are constantly evolving and changing over time,” laughs Aoki. “I did two tracks with Travis Barker and the rest are more non-rock with will.i.am, Kid Cudi, LMFAO and others.”

To the untrained ear, the untz-untz backbeat, turntable scratching and heavy reverb might scream “club record,” but he insists that his songs aren’t created for that purpose.

“It’s more about the art of writing a song,” says Aoki. “When I write a song, it has more steps, often with a singer in mind. When I write a club record like ‘Wake Up Call,’ I can sometimes do it in two hours—some of my album records took six months to make. I just want people to have fun.”

To expose the world to his self-proclaimed “loud, sometimes very noisy, sometimes aggressive” tracks, Aoki says he has relied on his punk roots.

“Punk is about figuring out how to do something yourself and being active in your community,” he says. “[That ideology] is why my label was able to survive through grassroots marketing, before viral was even a word. You can use the punk philosophy in all aspects of life.”


Steve Aoki plays at 8 p.m., Thursday, June 2, at the Civic Auditorium, 307 Church St., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $44.50. 420-5260. Can’t make it? See him perform at Identity, the first touring electronic-only music festival, on September 3 at Shoreline Amphitheatre.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Trending Now

Whether you live by the Vogue bible or choose to go into your day wearing what you slept in, odds are you wear clothes.

 

The Thought Form of Solution

It’s our last week of Leo before the sun enters Virgo (next Friday/Saturday). The planets this week make complex patterns and relationships (vibrational cadences and rhythms) with the outer planets, mainly Neptune—the planet that veils, obscures, protects and finally refines us. Neptune offers us entrance into a deeply spiritual sense of comfort and solace. Neptune is the personality ruler of Pisces (saviors of the world) and soul ruler of Cancer (world mother). “The fish goddesses who leapt from earth (Virgo) to water (Pisces) unitedly give birth to the Fish God (Christ, the Soul) who introduces the waters of life  (Neptune & Aquarius) into the ocean of substance (matter, mother bringing light to the world. Thus does Neptune work.” (Esoteric Astrology).

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Cultures Collide

No surprises, but lots to savor in foodie film ‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Foodie File: Kauboi

Japanese-Western themed unites sushi with whiskey and beefgrill

 

How should Santa Cruz develop downtown around the San Lorenzo River?

Santa Cruz | Artist/Show Promoter

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Have Mercy!

Looking for a frisky summer wine at a reasonable price? Look no further than Mercy Vineyards’ 2013 Sauvignon Blanc ($20). Richly textured “with an exotic flavor profile,” the wine reveals aromas of honeydew melon and honeysuckle, with anise appearing as a star attraction. Smidgeons of pineapple and honeycomb add a touch of sexiness to this well-balanced, easy-drinking wine, which pairs well with a variety of cuisine —especially ceviche, calamari and other not-too-heavy foods.