Welcome to the 83rd episode of 5 Questions with Dan Schawbel. As your host, my goal is to curate the best advice from the world’s smartest and most interesting people by asking them just 5 questions.
This episodes guest:
My guest today is DJ, record producer, and music executive, Steve Aoki. Born in Miami, Florida, Steve is the son of Rocky Aoki, the legendary owner of the Japanese restaurant chain Benihana. During college at the University of California, Santa Barbara, he produced do-it-yourself records and ran underground concerts and eventually launched his own record label called Dim Mak back in 1996. Steve’s label released music from a variety of electro house artists like Felix Cartal and Bloc Party while remixing songs from a variety of artists like Kanye West, Eminem, and Drake. He rose to international fame for his surfing stunts, cake throwing, champagne spraying, and riding rafts during his hundreds of performances each year. Steve’s first solo album, Wonderland, was nominated for a Grammy in 2013, which is the same year he was ranked in the top ten best DJ’s in America. Since then, he’s released four other hit albums, Neon Future I, II, III, and IV, launched his own comic book titled “Neon Future” and his memoir titled “Blue”. I first interviewed Steve eight years ago for a series I wrote for Forbes called “The World’s Greatest DJ’s” and out of everyone I interviewed, he was the most authentic and vulnerable. That’s why I was excited to catch up with him again for this podcast episode.
The 5 questions I ask in this episode:
- Steve, we are constantly told to “follow our passion” and you’ve not only found your passion but turned it into a thriving career. What do you recommend to others who have either not found their passion or haven’t been able to monetize it?
- As someone who has toured the world many times over you’ve witnessed how your music has impacted different cultures. Now that you’re in isolation in your home, how have you reflected on your life journey and what will you do differently when your life gets back to normal?
- This month marks the two-year anniversary of Avicii’s death, one of the most celebrated DJ’s ever that I interviewed and you collaborated with. How did his passing affect you personally and made you think about the life you want to live and the legacy you want to leave behind?
- When you first started your label you were signing big acts, while simultaneously losing money. What steps did you take to become profitable again and how did this time in your career prepare you for the future?
- What is your best piece of career advice?
Follow Steve’s journey: