Lying horizontal is a luxury for Steve Aoki. The Grammy-nominated DJ and producer has a relentless global schedule that finds him spinning records in places like Shanghai and Oslo, along with ongoing residencies in Ibiza and Las Vegas. He also puts out albums, including the recent Neon Future Odyssey (which collects his previous Neon Future I and II releases), and runs the record label and clothing brand Dim Mak. Fueled by catnaps and meditation, Aoki has managed to grow his empire while staying connected to his fans.
“Being on the road. It’s easy to treat that life as a vacation. Since I’m the guy who makes the parties turn up, I have the image of, ‘Let’s have fun and have no rules.’ But it’s a job. You have to have a business plan on the road. That’s why I don’t drink or do drugs, and I work out on the regular. I have a clear head, which is incredibly important to be able to balance and manage so many businesses.”
“I have a tendency to be late. When I’m on the road, my tour manager is really good at getting me on time to places. My team at home is not that good at getting me on time to places. That’s one thing I’m battling. It’s a first-world problem.”
“I don’t require too much. I’ve done three-week tours when I survived on naps and never had a long sleep. That long sleep—I feel lucky when I get it. Having your head horizontal for a lengthy period of time is an incredibly gratifying experience that most people take for granted.”
“In an economics class in college, there were two things the professor said. One, most businesses don’t survive the first year. And two, who you hire is going to be the success or failure of your business. Luckily for me, I’ve met so many different people from so many different avenues that it’s helped me find a more colorful team and a team that’s going to be the most efficient.”
“Meditation is a key component in my daily cycle now. I went through a major physical change in my life in June when I had vocal-cord surgery. I used that time to reset and think about a different set of rules to be more efficient and productive.”