Steve Aoki has something special planned for his Soundstorm performance in Riyadh on Sunday.
The American EDM star plans to debut a number of new tracks featuring vocals from Saudi artists in his set at the mammoth four-day music festival. The move is only right, he said on Tuesday during Soundstorm’s precursor industry event, the XP Music Conference, as it matches the moment.
He recalls as a career highlight taking the decks on the main stage at the inaugural 2019 event – previously known as MDL Beast. The stage – standing 38 metres high – was awarded the Guinness world record for the tallest temporary stage.
“That was just incredible and I have never seen anything like that,” he said. “To be on a stage that big and seeing over 100,000 people having a great time really gave me this feeling of gratitude. I mean, this what you hope and do it for. At the end of the day, you just want to play to people that care.”
As for the new regional tunes, Aoki promises they will be festival bangers. “I am going to bring some fire to Soundstorm and I am going to play three big records with local artists,” he said.
“I had the opportunity to be able to be in a studio and work with local artists and it has been interesting because of the rhythms [they use]. I have been trying to mould them with my style. While I am playing three, I have a few more records with them that are not even out yet.”
Chances are the collaboration will be winners, as Aoki has form in crossing cultures. In addition to hit collaborations with Latin artists such as Colombia’s Maluma (Maldad) and Puerto Rican reggaeton star Daddy Yankee (Azukita), it was Aoki’s remix of 2017 BTS single Mic Drop that officially broke new ground.
It became the first K-Pop track to break in to the Billboard Hot 100 US charts and Aoki – born to Japanese parents – said the success confirmed an industry truth. “At the end of the day, it is really all about melody and how that makes people feel,” he said.
“K-Pop has been huge for a long time outside of the US but it was the beautiful melodies of BTS in that track that were able to crossover and I was so proud to be part of that.”
One song Aoki is keen to revive is his 2010 debut single I’m in the House, featuring Will.i.am. It was only on the flight over to Riyadh that Aoki realised the track is only available on the soundtrack to the US reality TV programme Jersey Shore.
“That’s absolutely crazy. What happened was the label that released the song went defunct and they handed me back my song rights,” he said.
“I got so busy over the years that I forgot about the song, so now I told my management team, we have to do something about this and we need to re-release this track and make it more available.”
Saudi fans will be able to experience the thunderous beats and darting synth lines of I’m in the House when Aoki drops the track at the end of his Soundstorm set.
“I don’t know about the crowd, but by then I will be absolutely sweating because I go hard in my shows,” he said.
“After, I have no problem relaxing. I am the absolute king of naps, so you may find me in the corner backstage asleep within a few minutes.”
Steve Aoki performs at Soundstorm on December 19. The festival runs until December 19 in a purpose-built location in Banban, Riyadh. Tickets are from Saudi riyals 399 ($106), which includes a shuttle bus from various locations in Riyadh. Doors open from 3pm. More information available at mdlbeast.com