Tomorrowland is known for creating one-of-a-kind immersive experiences, constantly pushing the boundaries of live event production and culture. With the announcement of Tomorrowland Around the World, the festival's first virtual concert, expectations and anticipation are at an all-time high.
Ahead of Aoki's Tomorrowland Around The World performance, EDM.com spoke to the Dim Mak Records founder about his thoughts on Tomorrowland's debut in the digital concert space, his take on virtual events post COVID-19, and his new Latin music label Dim Mak En Fuego.
EDM.com: Your live shows are known for being high energy and engaging. How is preparing for a virtual show different from a live performance?
Steve Aoki: It's definitely less stressful. But at the same time, it's Tomorrowland, you always know the broadcast has more eyeballs than ever so I still get nervous. It's just so different, you know? You can't go on the mic like you usually do, say "put your hands up" or 'make some noise', so now you have to put your head in that space. When we were recording, they displayed a huge digital crowd and a couple of guys in the room came and danced to hype me up, but of course, it isn't the same.
EDM.com: Does Tomorrowland have anything special planned for their first virtual event?
Steve Aoki: The new digital experience is like nothing you've ever seen. They set the bar so high and continue to innovate with live music. It's amazing, even Katy Perry has a set at Tomorrowland this year. For the Fornite show, we did a green screen stream from my place, but with Tomorrowland, they built a huge stage and they'll be bringing you into a magical playground. When they showed us the renderings of what it will look like, I was blown away. Tomorrowland is where technology and magic meet.
EDM.com: With everyone doing virtual performances these days, how do you plan on setting yourself apart from the other performers?
Steve Aoki: For me, it all comes down to the music. Tomorrowland is the middle of the year so I see it as a perfect place to share your sound of that year. I'll be dropping Steve Aoki 2020. I mean you gotta play your hits, but you gotta have a solid mix of your new music too. I've got a new single called 'Imagine' with Frank Walker and I brought the singer on the track, AJ Mitchell, to perform it live too.
EDM.com: So no virtual caking for this show?
Steve Aoki: No, not this time (laughs). Although I did do a virtual set recently, and they had fans Zoom call in and when I dropped my song 'Cake Face', the fans started caking themselves. It was pretty funny.
EDM.com: You recently announced a Latin music imprint from your label, Dim Mak En Fuego. What made you want to focus on Latin music? What can we expect in 2020?
Steve Aoki: We've been talking about it for over a year. I've already been doing collabs with Latin artists, and I absolutely love the music. I actually have a large Latin fan base, 50% of my audience is Spanish speaking, and I have a strong connection and relationship with Central and South America and Spain. What's crazy about it is that it doesn't need radio or the help of these large institutions. It's a global community and dominates on its own on all platforms. The fans are so passionate and the community is so strong, it reminds me a lot of the EDM community.
EDM.com: What can we expect from Dim Mak En Fuego in 2020?
Steve Aoki: As far as artists, I'm really excited about this group from Monterrey that we just signed called AQUIHAYAQUIHAY. They have a DIY mentality about production, art, music videos, everything, it reminds me of myself in the beginning. They're creatively self-managed and figuring out their own music and sound. Working with them has been incredibly inspiring.
EDM.com: What are your views on livestreamed performances post COVID?
Steve Aoki: I think now we're set up to see them more often, just like with anything once you do it once people start to expect it. That said, nothing will ever replace IRL, there's nothing like it. But then again, everyone is on their phones so it's going to continue to exist. People want something to tune into and be a part of when they can't be there IRL. I don't think it's going anywhere, and only going to get better with time.