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What Is DJ Steve Aoki Actually Doing When He Is on Stage?

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This question originally appeared on Quora.
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Answer by Steve Aoki, DJ, Producer

Q: What is Steve Aoki actually doing when he is on stage?

A: For the most part, I know what my set is going to be going into a show, but it can change depending on the crowd. If you're going to be playing your music and it's unknown to the crowd, you have to keep it interesting in order for them to stay. It's just like when you hear someone give a speech and they just read off the cues with no feeling because they're so tense about it. That doesn't move you. You have to enjoy the music and have fun, or at least look like you're having a good time up there. If it's a hard thing for you to have a good time, I hate to say it but, maybe being a DJ isn't your calling. You have to be flexible and know that your plan may go off course.

There will always be variables that you can't control. When you have a technical foul up, the whole place thinks it's your fault, and you have to figure out how to recover from that bad joke you just told. The recovery is just as important as being flawless and it's hard. Imagine being on stage as a comedian and you say a really bad joke or offend someone and they're really pissed of at you. What do you do? You recover but that recovery may not be the next part of your script. You have to be one your toes up there.

Q: What information is essential to know before your first live gig as a DJ?

A: If you're going to do a live show, there has to be a balance of having fun, enjoying yourself, but also being prepared. If you're too prepared and too stressed about your preparation, all of a sudden you'll be too focused on your worries and then you looked stressed on stage and the crowd just won't, and can't, have fun. You're a reflection and/or representation of what the party should be. So, the music is a real connection with the crowd and you are the ambassador of that music. If you look like you're just not in a great place mentally, then the crowd probably can't vibe with you. They look at you as the conductor, so you better be on point. Stay balanced and don't overthink it.

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