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Poll 2022: Steve Aoki
Steve Aoki

DJ style: “Global multi-genre.”

Best known for: “HiROQUEST.”

Fave tune of 2022: “‘Stars Don’t Shine’ Steve Aoki feat. Global Dan.”

Rising star DJ/producer of 2022: “Max Styler.”

Steve Aoki does it all. Whether penning novels, opening pizza shops or producing mindful music for NFTs, the cake-throwing producer, DJ and entrepreneur is constantly racking up new accomplishments in life, and IPs in his repertoire. Last year it was Kura Kura Pa — the anime-themed yakitori joint he helms alongside his brother Kevin at Resorts World Las Vegas. In 2022, however, the chart-topping titan is focused on another kind of handheld obsession. 

“I’ve been building the world of HiROQUEST, its characters and story and the musical narrative,” Aoki tells DJ Mag, hinting at his newest LP which ties in directly with MetaZoo, a tradable card game (TCG) for which he is a co-founder.

Aoki and a team of illustrators sat together to create a swathe of colourful new cards for the booming MetaZoo universe, which have since come to life via ‘HiROQUEST: Genesis’, the musical half of the multi-tier concept. The genre-blending album arrived on September 16th and features collaborations with emo legends like Taking Back Sunday, as well as rising stars like Global Dan, Goody Grace and Grandson. The “first-of-its-kind” project is composed of more than 20 tracks which weave through sounds as varied as pop-punk strummers, rap-laced cuts and EDM bangers, and through each “melodia” listeners become immersed in the tale of a future ruled by cryptids. At its core, it’s a gritty, rock-leaning collection that harks back to Aoki’s roots and the early years he spent fronting hardcore bands before launching his now iconic Dim Mak imprint back in 1996.

When Aoki isn’t linking the card game metaverse to party-rocking grooves, he’s known to perform upwards of 200 shows a year. In 2022, a handful of those took shape on the Vegas strip at acclaimed clubs like Hakkasan and Wet Republic, where Aoki’s remained a tried and true attraction since the early days of the North American EDM boom. Festivals and high-profile tours aside, he somehow inevitably manages to find time to meditate and pursue philanthropic endeavours through the Aoki Foundation, which funds research primarily in the areas of anti-ageing and brain science. Clearly, they’re cooking up some kind of magic behind the scenes, as Steve shows no signs of slowing down, or slipping from the upper ranks of the Top 100 either.

What’s the best DJ set you’ve seen this year? 

“Timmy Trumpet.”

Name one great festival you played for the first time this year… 

“Deichbrand Festival.”

What’s the longest DJ set you’ve ever played? 

“14 hours.”

What’s one piece of studio hardware you wish you owned? 

“I’m grateful that I have everything that I need.”

What’s the last tune you bought? 

“Steppenwolf ‘Born To Be Wild’.”

What’s the next big sound? 

“Happy hardcore.”