Being a globetrotting DJ and producer doesn’t come without its hardships. Steve Aoki has revealed that his hyper-successful career has seen its fair share of obstacles, including holding back on raising a family, missed opportunities with Kanye, Drake and Eminem, suffering from tinnitus, and losing his best friend.
The 43-year-old has performed a whopping 250 shows per year for 15 years. That’s no easy feat, and it’s significantly impacted his personal life. “There’s a point where, in those moments of loneliness and sadness, I made a decision,” he explains on In Depth with Graham Bensinger.
“Instead of being at home and potentially having a family…I chose this life, and I’m on the road a lot, so whoever I end up dating or whoever becomes part of my life…It’s a specialised life. It’s only meant for a certain kind of person to be able to live like this…I definitely want to have kids…There’s no doubt about it. It’s going to happen”.
Thankfully, Aoki has fallen in love with his career, saying that there is “no greater high” than being on stage. “It is the absolute pinnacle. Drugs cannot reach the high that I am getting. I am completely sober. I don’t drink before shows. I don’t do any drugs. I let the moment and the real raw connection I’m having bring me to that level”.
The superstar DJ reflects on those moments and tears up at the thought of his friends that have passed. “When [those moments] are gone, they’re gone forever. So you better fucking…you better give 100 per cent…because after that moment has gone, it’s gone”.
Aoki’s career has undoubtedly rewarded him with unforgettable moments and opportunities. One opportunity that passed him by in the earlier parts of his journey was a remix of Eminem’s Forever, featuring Drake, Kanye and Lil’ Wayne.
He recalls how Kanye called him up to share some lyrics he was working on. He then later bumped into Drake, whose team sent him stems of an upcoming track. “It’s Drake, it’s Eminem, it’s Lil’ Wayne, and it’s Kanye West,” Aoki says. “I could remix the biggest voices of my career.”
“It never actually ever came out because it just wasn’t that good. Sad to say, but that’s life. I had the opportunity – it wasn’t good at the time. If they gave me the opportunity now, it’d be a different story.”
Bensinger asks Aoki about another affliction of his high-octane career – tinnitus. “The tinnitus in my left ear; now I have a little bit in my right. It’s just part of life”, Aoki explains. “I’ve learned to live with it.”
He may have had a turbulent career at times, but Aoki is keen to stick around for as long as possible. “My passion is in what’s in the future with brain technology… The angle is finding a way to live forever…My mom’s 78. I want to see her live to 120; I want to say, ‘Mom, you have another 50 more years left,’ you know?”.
Aoki is encouraging his entire family to cryogenically freeze their bodies via the Alcor Life Extension Foundation. He elaborates: “Alcor is a facility that deep freezes your body…If I’m so lucky to die in a hospital situation where they can move my whole body and quickly get my body – my brain most importantly – into this deep kelvin temperature, and…if there’s technology to actually bring you back, then I could come back.
“But it’s like, the sad thing is, I don’t want to come back and my whole family’s gone. That’s why I’m…asking my whole family, ‘let’s at least all do it together,’ you know?”
The full In Depth with Graham Bensinger interview airs this weekend in the US.