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Steve Aoki Predicts Cyborg Future, Explains His Many Superstar Collaborations

Richard Bord, Getty Images

Steve Aoki didn’t quite nail it with the doom-prophesying title of his new EP, ‘It’s the End of the World As We Know It’ (yes, like the R.E.M. song), but that’s OK. The three-song set tells the story of what’s to come, or what might be to come.

The 35-year-old DJ recently took a short retreat to do some serious thinking and writing for his next record, renting a cabin in Mammoth Lakes, Calif. Chatting with Diffuser.fm, he had some interesting things to say about the future — now that Dec. 21 did not, in fact, bring about the end of the world — and the slew of artists he’s collaborated with.

What are you doing in the mountains?

I rented a cabin up here to do some writing. I just want to be isolated and have no distractions. I wrote my last album, ‘Wonderland,’ in my house. I wanted to change the scenery and get some new inspiration. It’s working because I’ve written a lot, and I’m doing a collaborative project with a band … I can’t say who right now. Yeah, it’s top secret.

What differentiates ‘It’s the End of the World As We Know It’ from your previous releases?

It’s kind of a culmination of all the sporadic studio time throughout the year, just put together in this one EP. Title-wise, these tracks all connect together. ‘Omega’ is the final letter in the Greek alphabet. ‘Transcend’ is going beyond. ‘Singularity’ is a rebirth, the yin and yang.

Describe the theme at work with the whole end-of-the-world thing.

The current state of affairs with this has a lot to do with this futurist idea that we’ll be able to live forever by combining future technologies and biology together, basically becoming robots. I think that’s where we’re going. Now people are living toward an average age of 70. I think by the time I’m 70, people will be able to live until they’re 100.

Do you want to live to be 100?

Well, with the futurist technology, you can always look young and feel young. It’s like how you change old engine parts in an old car — you do that with your skin, with organs that have failed. People are already doing that. It’s slowly happening. You wouldn’t have heard of that 20 years ago.

You’ve worked with some big names — Lil Jon, Travis Barker, Kid Cudi, Rivers Cuomo, My Name is Kay … who has been the most memorable, and how do you go about setting up these collaborations?

‘Wonderland’ was more of a personal relationship; I didn’t really approach people I didn’t know that well. It was also my first album. It was hard to hit someone you don’t know and ask them to be on your album. Luckily, I live in L.A. I’ve built a relationship with Lil Jon, Chiddy Bang, Dan Sena … all those people. I love working with Travis Barker and My Name is Kay. We all have different histories. When we work well in a studio, like on ‘It’s the End of the World as We Know It,’ it’s like being in a band. You’re sharing ideas. It’s like a profession. With Dan, I’ve been playing music with him literally since I was a teenager. He’s musical. He can play guitar and bass. I’m really proud of that EP. ‘Wonderland’ took about two years to complete. I’m definitely not going to take that long with the next record. With my next album, my goal is to get this first project out by the end of the year.

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