STEVE AOKI with MIKEY APPLES and RORY THEM FINEST at Gypsy Co-op (817 Queen West), Friday (April 21). $10. www.myspace.com/random_play. Rating: NNNNN
Several days into a marathon game of phone tag with Steve Aoki, it's starts to set in just how busy he is.
Not only is he DJing pretty much every night as Kid Millionaire, but he's also running the prolific and influential indie label Dim Mak (American home to Bloc Party, the Kills, Ben Lee and the Panthers among others), remixing (as half of Weird Science) and working on a post 9/11 documentary. He appears alongside P Diddy in a Pepsi commercial, and recently helped design a laptop bag specifically for DJs.
He genuinely seems to want to do this interview, but every time we connect he's either about to get on a plane, boarding a train, at a party or in the middle of a DJ set. He apologizes profusely, but the insane pace of his life is an unstoppable force. You'd think that with so many projects on the go, he might want to cut back on the DJ gigs a bit; after all, he can't be the only indie scenester DJ in Hollywood.
"For me, running the label and DJing are complementary. They're synergistic. I mean, it's all about music, right?" says Aoki. "I wouldn't be doing it as much if I didn't know that the people running the label could keep it running. Besides, I end up doing more work when I'm in a hotel room and completely isolated."
This is easy to believe, since he always seems to be doing five things at once, even in cab rides between gigs. He's currently ramping up to push Montreal's Pony Up! on the world at large, with a full-length scheduled for May on Dim Mak.
"Ben Lee actually brought them to me. He's a massive, massive fan of the band. He was so enthusiastic that I thought he should be part of it as well, so we started up the Ten Fingers label together and put out an EP with them a little while ago."
"Do it yourself, with your friends" is a recurring theme with Aoki. It pops up not only in his sub-label with Lee, but also in the upcoming Dim Mak Collection, a Japan-inspired line of high-end T-shirts and hoodies designed by his friends (most them musicians) and him. Like so many of his projects, the fact that Aoki didn't really know what he was doing didn't keep him from diving into it headlong and somehow making it work.