Interview: Diplo + Steve Aoki

It’s not everyday you get to see hip hop homeboy Diplo mixing it up with electro agent Steve Aoki. But dude, it totally happened on the tour of Dim Mak x Mad Decent (Steve’s x Diplo’s record labels) that saw them two trade hugs and kisses all across Asia’s decks. Oh yeah, t’was love, all right. signed right up for the love-in and got to pay witness to this budding bromance.

Okay, guys. Tell us your first impressions of each other.
Diplo: I don’t even remember! It was so long ago…
Steve Aoki: I just remember that remix he did for Bloc Party. It was so awesome and I used to play it during my sets. I just thought he was the best producer there was around.

And how did the joint tour happen?
Diplo: We’ve been meaning to tour for a while, but now just happened to be the perfect time, like the date was set and I was doing a 12″ for his label (‘Hey’ by Laidback Luke and Diplo), so it kind of fit the occasion.
Steve: I’ve played that track in every single set since it came out. I’ve never not played that song in a set before, to this day. I’ve played it consecutively for the last five or six months!
Diplo: I didn’t even like it when I produced it. It was a bit hard and scary, and I’m a bit more like … happy? But this is the hardest I’ve played ‘cos Steve is totally hardcore, so I’m trying to play a bit harder for fun.

Do Dim Mak and Mad Decent share a common ideology?
Diplo: I think so. We’re both super-indie, and we’re both producing really cutting edge music. We’re always trendsetting, like, Steve’s been signing bands that go on to become big for years and years! I hope I do the same thing with my label.

Anything useful you’ve learnt from each other?
Diplo: I’ve learned a lot from Steve, yeah. I mean, I’ve never been to Asia, not on a dedicated tour. And Steve really knows how to control a crowd and everything. I’ve learnt a lot just watching him do what he does.
Steve: And I’ve learned… um…
Diplo: Nothing?
Steve: No! (Laughs) I’m constantly excited by Diplo! Constantly! Like I was saying, he’s always been one of my favourite producers. And he’s developed MIA. and Santigold, two pioneering figures that came from the leftfield. That’s all part of Diplo’s development and sound. So touring with him has been a really big inspiration for me. And he’s also my good homie, so…
Aww!
Steve: We like to cuddle each other! (Laughs)
Diplo: I wish I had Steve’s hair…

It’s so nice how you’ve come together from separate places.

Diplo: Yeah! That’s the important thing: that we’ve all mixed together.
Steve: Like, I come from punk, I come from scream-my-head-off-touring-in-a-sh*tty-van-wearing-the-same-jeans-for-a-month-and-getting-paid-$60-a-show – that’s where I came from. And now, we manage to sell records by the thousands and that’s a big deal…
Diplo: I come from Florida and that’s just a sh*tty place! (Laughs)

And what’s next for you guys?
Diplo: We both have records that are coming out. I just had the Major Lazer record come out a few months ago and Steve’s got a single coming out next month (‘I’m In The House’).

So what’s the plan when you both DJ?
Diplo: I go first, then he goes on, and then we play together a little bit at the end.
Steve: Yeah!

And when you’re both on the decks, is it more a collaboration or competition?
Diplo: Definitely collaboration!
Steve: No, it’s a competition where I like, end up punching him! I’ll try to sucker punch him but he doesn’t know it yet! (Laughs)
Diplo: Yup, that’s when my set’s over! That’s when I know it’s time to pack it up!

Head over to www.dimmak.com and www.maddecent.com to check the boys out.

Text Min Chen
Image Eden Cai
Interview Courtesy of Zouk Singapore