Bleats

Steve Aoki Weighs In On Flume’s Booty Munch Fiasco And Kicking It With The Backstreet Boys

Over two decades into his storied career and Steve Aoki is still as driven as ever.

Steve Aoki has been going hard at it as a DJ for many years now so it’s not a stretch to think he’s seen and done everything. But 20-something years into his storied music career, which has had more highlights than the hair of boy bands like BTS and Backstreet Boys, Aoki still loves it more than ever as he preps for an anticipated appearance at Australia’s new music festival, Festival X, in November.

Aoki’s relentless drive is arguably second to none and it’s resulted in an incredibly prolific discography, the latest of which is a collaboration with the Backstreet Boys, the EDM banger titled ‘Let It Be Me.’

Ahead of his appearance at Festival X, I chatted to Aoki about the origins of ‘Let It Be Me,’ Aoki says the song was born out of a “human connection” rather than the usual “I’m a fan of you and vice versa so let’s do something together!”

“Me and Nick Carter, we hit it off pretty good. We were talking for a while and then he came to one of my shows and jumped up onstage with me to do ‘Backstreet’s Back’,” says Aoki, “and we had this really strong energy onstage and we followed that energy into the studio.”

“We really gravitated to the bare bones of what ‘Let It Be Me’ was, and they loved the lyrics.”

Credit: Steve Aoki

But perhaps the most powerful thing about ‘Let It Be Me’ was the music video, which features several diverse couples and individuals talking about their personal struggles.

“The lyrics were so emotional that [the video] should be about these couples and these individual stories of how they had to deal with very personal hardships,” says Aoki, “and in the end, you see how love overcame these hardships and these difficult times.”

Working with a group as “great” and “humble” as the Backstreet Boys was an experience for Aoki but the thing that surprised him the most wasn’t their professionalism and work ethic. Rather, it was their childlike enthusiasm for the foam pit he has in his house.

“I have a foam pit and trampoline installed in my house and all of them were doing flips and stuff like little kids,” laughs Aoki, “that honestly was where the energy [for the song] sparked and we used that to go into the studio.”

Some people have paintings or meditation for inspiration, Aoki has a frigging awesome foam pit.

As Aoki showered the Backstreet Boys with praise for their work ethic, I asked about his own relentless drive to keep working year in year out and he tells me that it’s all about momentum and gratitude.

“The gratitude in my heart has to be the number one purpose and meaning in what I’m doing,” says Aoki, “it helps me find discipline in doing the things I love and the things I don’t need in my life.”

Since we both come from Asian backgrounds – he’s Japanese, I’m Chinese – I pondered whether our respective upbringings in which hard work is drilled into us at a young age had something to do with that need to keep working hard and pushing forward.

“100 percent. I don’t know if it’s evolution or culture, but growing up under a very, very tough love father who drove work ethic into me at the earliest age I can remember,” says Aoki, “it’s like, ‘work is not’ fun, that’s how he said it.”

“What I do is incredibly fun [laughs] but in reality, half have to work a s**t job so they can survive to do things that are fun, that’s how he laid it out for me and he says ‘that’s how it is and you have to learn to deal with that’. It’s very much an Asian thing.”

Credit: Steve Aoki

At this point, I simply had to get Aoki’s thoughts on the whole “Flume eats a woman’s arse onstage at Burning Man” incident given how he’s seen a bunch of stuff go down during his career as a DJ, and after explaining what went down to him, he had nothing but respect for Flume’s little brown-nosing incident.

“Wow, that’s bold, I think that’s badass,” exclaims Aoki, “I think it’s cool when people do something that’s outside their comfort zone.”

When I asked what the craziest thing he’s done onstage and Aoki laughs and tells me “Flume wins” by a mile.

“Oh god, Flume wins! Flume wins! Give him the trophy, mic drop, I can’t get anywhere near that,” says Aoki, “that is something that’ll go down in the history books for all DJs, I don’t think anyone can top that!”

At the end of our chat, it’s clear that Steve Aoki remains just as driven today as he was on day one and he plans chugging along, whether it’s doing more collaborations, writing memoirs, performing at festivals like Festival X and continuing to release new music (he says his sixth album Neon Future IV will be released in 2020).

Just don’t expect him to do what Flume did at Burning Man any time soon though.

Borderlands Is Weirdly One Of The Most Inclusive Games Ever Made

Pandora is as woke as it is dangerous.

There’s much to like about Gearbox’s Borderlands series. It’s one of the first to usher in the “looter shooter” genre, the cel-shaded post-apocalyptic aesthetic is instantly memorable, the writing is both hilarious and emotional, and at the end of the day, it’s just fun to shoot psychos in the face and get rewarded with weapons.

But perhaps the most surprising element about Borderlands that deserves more attention is just how inclusive it is. In fact, it is arguably the most inclusive video game series ever.

It’s definitely not something you’d expect from a franchise that prides itself on making creative dick jokes and involves shooting things in the face over and over again.

Gearbox may have stuffed Pandora – the series’ primary setting – with oodles of weapons, loot and more psychedelic characters than a 60s party, but buried underneath all that blood and grime are several playable and non-playable characters that fill the entire sexuality spectrum.

There are straight people (too many to list), gay people (Athena, Janey Springs and Sir Hammerlock), bisexual people (Axton. Mr. Torgue), asexual people (Maya), pansexual (Moxxi) and folks who throw a wrench in the spectrum altogether (Tannis, who is seriously messed up due to a traumatic past, and Borderlands 2 antagonist Handsome Jack, who definitely wants to pork himself).

It’s a face only Handsome Jack could love.

In Borderlands 3 alone you’ve got two of the playable characters (FL4K and Zane) who are pansexual, one of whom also identifies as nonbinary (FL4K). There’s also a non-playable character (Lorelei) who not only identifies as nonbinary but is considering transitioning and is even voiced by trans actor Ciarán Strange.

If Gearbox threw in a few rainbow flags, Borderlands would easily be mistaken for a Mardi Gras parade.

Good to know.

Beyond sexuality, you’ve got characters from all walks of life. As you explore Pandora throughout each Borderlands game, you’ll come across tall people, short people (most of whom you end up shooting admittedly), skinny people, morbidly obese people, people with disabilities, people of colour and even the odd emotionally-needy robots.

Unlike a lot of games of films that go out of their way to tell you “hey, this character is LGBTQI+/diverse!” Borderlands also doesn’t call attention to all this diversity. It’s in there as normal as can be and no one ever bats an eyelid at anything, as it should be.

So if you’re thinking about visiting the world of Pandora in Borderlands, go for the loot but stay for the inclusivity.

Today I Learned: YouTube Happened Because Some Guy Wanted To See Janet Jackson's Nipple

All it took was a nipple and a performance of "Rock Your Body" to change the internet.

Before YouTube became a cesspool of keyboard warriors, influencers doing dumb stuff for clicks and a focal point in discussions over censorship and free speech, it was just a simple little video sharing website. So how exactly did this internet behemoth start? Well, it all began with the infamous 2004 Super Bowl half-time show performance – dubbed “Nipplegate” – involving Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson.

For those who are unaware, “Nipplegate” was an infamous incident during the 2004 Super Bowl half-time show where Justin Timberlake ripped off a part of Janet Jackson’s costume during their performance of ‘Rock Your Body’ and exposed her right breast to the entire world.

The reaction was immediate and overwhelming, and “Nipplegate” became one of the defining pop-culture moments of the 2000s. It was the very first viral video before viral videos even became a thing.

Now if something like that happened today, there would be thousands of videos of it uploaded onto YouTube and social media within seconds. But since this was 2004, there was nothing of the sort so finding footage of anything was nearly impossible.

In the months that followed ‘Nipplegate,” soon-to-be YouTube founders, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim all wanted to see video of Janet Jackson’s nipple being exposed by Justin Timberlake but were stymied by the inability to find anything on the internet.

“Where’s this nipple thing everyone keeps talking about?”

It wasn’t just nipples the YouTube co-founders hit a wall with as footage of the 2004 tsunamis were also ridiculously difficult to come by. These two incidents was what convinced the trio that a video sharing website could work.

Armed with Janet Jackson’s nipple and a dash of the 2004 tsunamis as inspiration, the trio got to work and ultimately built what we now know YouTube.

So there you have it. If it weren’t for Justin Timberlake getting a bit too handsy with Janet Jackson during the 2004 Super Bowl half-time show, we wouldn’t have gotten one of the most important things to ever happen to the internet and we would’ve gotten some lame video website instead.

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