Steve Aoki: Production is an ‘endless, tireless skill set’

EDM star and Dim Mak Label head Steve Aoki has told Audio Media International that production is “an endless, tireless skill set,” when asked for his advice for aspiring producers in the cover feature of the most recent issue of Audio Media International.

“It’s something you have to love or else you will just get burnt out," he added. "It’s so meticulous. Practice makes perfect. You have to put in the time to get to where you want to go and you can’t beat yourself up if you’re not getting there either.”

The best way to get into electronic production and to hone your craft as a producer is by making as many of your own remixes as you can, suggests Aoki.

“You can remix anything that’s out there nowadays,” he said. “When I first started electronic production, I started with remixes. Before I even made my first original song I had probably remixed 40 or 50 songs and you know, it was like training wheels.

“You have the stems and you can learn your sound design, you can learn your drums. Build your sample library up, get as many different kicks and drum sounds and build your sample tank up. That way you can go to that and reference styles that you really like.”

Aoki explains that designing your own sounds should come much later and that using samples shouldn’t be looked down on.

“You can build out a song with just samples. A lot of producers do that, just with existing samples. Plenty of big A-list producers do that. Maybe some people think that’s a bad thing to do, because you are not designing from scratch, but I mean, use your samples to help your creative outlet.”

True to the DIY ethics that have fueled much of Aoki’s career, he’s also an advocate for teaching yourself production techniques using videos online.

“YouTube tutorials are really good and really crucial,” he argued. “If you are stuck on something or want to learn how a certain sound is designed or how you want to try and emulate a sound, it’s up there on YouTube.

“Once you get to that place where you have a good sensibility of the tools in front of you on whatever DAW you are working with, then it’s about harnessing your own interests in music and bringing that to life."

Read the full Aoki feature in this month’s magazine, which features a cover photo of his incredible Neon Future Cave studio by photographer Caesar Sebastian.