At this year's Winter Music Conference in Miami, MTV News spoke to some of the biggest names in dance music and beyond. One name that we couldn't escape was West Coast electronic tycoon Steve Aoki.
To assign any one title to Steve Aoki is to do his talents a disservice. DJ, producer and record-label owner (Dim Mak) are but a few of the hats he somehow manages to wear all at once. And if you've heard him spin, Aoki doesn't miss a beat.
As mainstream artists are increasingly consulting underground icons of dance music for production advice, Aoki has a well-trodden path from the major labels to his doorstep, having remixed hit singles for Weezer, Kid Cudi, Robin Thicke, the Killers and beyond.
On the international scene, however, Aoki is a completely different phenomenon. His track "I'm in the House," which features Zuper Blahq (who is almost certainly the alter ego of Will.I.Am) has been making waves in the clubs and on the indie and dance singles charts abroad since it dropped in November of last year. This reboot of the chant-along sensibility of classic house (also revamped by David Guetta in "On the Dancefloor") may offer us a glimpse of Aoki's forthcoming LP.
"With my album I'm doing a couple of different tracks with some familiar voices," Aoki said. "Zuper Blahq, Kid Cudi, Lil Jon, Weezer, Black Star, Uffie, Sky Ferreira ... just mixing it up with some hip-hop vocals, rock vocals, house vocals. So yeah, it should be interesting."
Aoki's eclectic sensibility and his DIY spirit perhaps stem from his roots in — of all things — hardcore punk bands. And as more and more "bedroom producers" ascend to international stardom, the independent spirit seems to be the look of the moment.
"We're all doing it ourselves," Aoki offered. "We're making enough of a riot in our own world that more people are getting interested and want to get involved in what we're doing. And if it makes sense to do a collaboration with a familiar voice that everyone knows, then it can make sense on both sides. It can work on the underground and it can work in the commercial world."
When you're not showing off your moves at the club, stick with MTV News for Dance Music Week. We'll be catching up with your favorite dance-floor staples as well as introducing you to up-and-coming talent.