Steve Aoki Reveals Adjustments to Virtual DJ Sets: 'This Is the New Normal, Unfortunately' (Exclusive)

With the whole world is adjusting to a new normal, the coronavirus pandemic is not just putting millions of lives at risk and shutting down the global economy, but it’s bringing the live music industry to a grinding halt — something renowned DJ, Steve Aoki understands all too well. Oftentimes performing for thousands of crowds on a regular basis, it might seem easy for some to assume it would be difficult to tackle a virtual set amid quarantine and self-isolation, but the Californian is looking at the glass half full as he tells in an exclusive.

Amid the pandemic sending scores of DJs and performers to social media and messaging services to perform or spin tracks, Aoki is gearing up for a virtual prom party — something he never imagined doing in his illustrious career. While he is helping inject a vibrant dose of much-needed togetherness, Aoki admits not performing in front of a live crowd adds a new level of nerves for the 15-year veteran. "I mean, you get used to it, I've already done a couple of DJ sets," he revealed to PopCulture, explaining his experiences thus far with Fortnite and the popular Tomorrowland, touted one of the most influential festivals for DJs.

"I know there are millions of people playing and watching my set, even though I'm standing in front of a green screen in my living room," he said. "I know that this is really happening, and so it does get a little bit nerve wracking because I am deejaying live. I'm not doing a premixed set." He further added how since there's added pressure, he goes into the proverbial "professional" zone by being mindful of how many people are tuning in. "I got to be on my A game and so I've adjusted in that space."

The 42-year-old says one of the biggest challenges for him during the ongoing global crisis has been the adjustment of living to the new way of life. At the time coronavirus was deemed a national emergency and worldwide pandemic, Aoki was on tour and had to pull off the road. He tells PopCulture that he initially believed it would be only one show that was canceled and would return to it the next day. But as he quickly realized with the world, it was anything but the span of a day.

"I think the challenge for me was really the transition. I think for a lot of people, it's like, 'Wait, what's going on? Is this real?' [...] I didn't know the extent of how bad this was going to be. [...] I miss the stage. I miss playing in front of people." After 15 years of touring 250 days out of the year, this was a hard thing to adjust to for the music executive and entertainer. Although this may be true for him, he did stress how "you can't complain about it [as] it's just life," adding how one must also "take it for what it is and make the most out of it."

Ensuring he is keeping busy to make the most of his day and creative talents, Aoki is getting ready for a huge event amid social distancing practices with the "Sweetest Prom Ever," a virtual prom party for teenagers aged 17 to 20. Partnering with both Chips Ahoy! and Sour Patch Kids to give them a night to remember, Aoki admits that while "this is the new normal, unfortunately," he was "excited to jump aboard" for the collaboration before recalling the last prom party he ever attended, which was more than some 20 years ago at Newport Harbor High School in California.


Sympathizing with the teens today, Aoki expresses his compassion for their lost experience, especially as he envisions prom being groups of friends in one room, celebrating a milestone together. But now they have to do it essentially with technology — something is seemingly unprecedented, but definitely doable. "I can only imagine what these kids are doing because they can't really do that," he said. "They probably have to do that virtually." In his mind, Aoki says he will picture a normal set-up with students in front of him enjoying the night, even though he'll be inside his own home amid stay-at-home orders, while others enjoy the experience from the comfort of their own.

One-thousand teens between the age of 17 to 20 will have a chance to win this virtual party with the DJ by entering at Sweepstakes end May 16, and the virtual prom party will be hosted on May 23 at 9 p.m. ET. Stay tuned to for the very latest with your favorite stars, coronavirus news and more!