Walking into the Netflix offices in Beverly Hills a few weeks ago, awaiting the start of Steve Aoki’s new documentary I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, I really didn’t know what to expect. Yeah, I know Steve Aoki – millions of people do. But aside from his on-stage antics, his success as owner and founder of Dim Mak Records, and throwing cakes, I really didn’t know much about the man himself. Throughout the 80-minute film, I was exposed to sides of the Asian-American DJ, producer, businessman, philanthropist, son, brother, and whatever other adjective you have for him that I had never seen before.
Steve Aoki is the son of Rocky Aoki, the infamous founder of Japanese-style restaurant Benihana. A lot of the film focuses on Steve’s relationship with his father, or at times, lack thereof. Though even without constant contact with his father, who was a bit of a daredevil himself and always somewhere in the world doing something daring, Rocky’s work ethic was ingrained within his son.
The film also features interviews with Steve’s brother and half-sister, Kevin and Devon, as well as his mother and various people on his professional team including manager Matt Colon. From how the film frames things, every single person in Steve’s life has had some kind of impact on him as a person. Whether significant or insignificant, memorable or fleeting, his friends are his family and his family is everything.
There’s a moment in the beginning of the film that sort of embodies the namesake of the documentary. His manager is describing a moment in time during which Steve had appointment after appointment, and Steve called angrily and asked, “When do I sleep?”
That’s what it’s like to be an entrepreneur at Steve Aoki’s level – he’s not just a DJ or producer or label owner, he’s a business owner who wears many different hats, and that often leaves him little time to himself. Still, it doesn’t seem like he minds very much. Based on the title of the documentary alone, you can tell Steve is in it for the long run.
You can watch the full video on Netflix now.