Steve Aoki says ‘mindfulness and gratitude will change your life’

Tic Tac X-Freeze x Steve Aoki -- Behind The Scenes.

Ahead of the release of his upcoming sixth studio album, DJ Steve Aoki has collaborated with the Tic Tac brand to showcase the new Tic Tac X-Freeze mint in a new digital campaign.

In his first experience as Creative Director for a consumer brand, the two-time Grammy-nominated producer brings his contagious energy and unbridled passion to the campaign, drawing inspiration from his own life as a jet-setting adventure enthusiast.

Aoki collaborated alongside the Tic Tac brand to choose images that he believed reflected the feeling and essence of Tic Tac X-Freeze. The two 15-second spots depict Aoki performing in front of thousands, jumping off a cliff, snowboarding down a mountain and sinking into an ice bath.

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Global News spoke to Aoki about his Tic Tac campaign, how he continues to have such great energy at his shows, caking his fans, Neon Future IV and much more.

Global News: Can you tell me about your role as Creative Director of the new Tic Tac X-Freeze mint campaign?
Steve Aoki: I like to get my hands and feet wet when it comes to working with brands and when we work together I asked if I could be involved in the direction. I also wanted to be involved in how we were going to shoot and build this whole campaign. We made a short together and it was a lot of fun because I’m in front of the lens and also behind the lens. I wanted to help guide and put together the shots and give the story of the synergy between my life and what Tic Tac is doing. It was interesting because there’s so much synergy that it was very natural and easy to work with them.

Would you say these new Tic Tacs are life changing?
(Laughing) Yeah, I mean, I think more importantly that it’s all about the energy. The whole campaign is about energy, having fun and giving you that pick up. It’s what I do every day because I tour consistently every year with 250 shows a year. That was the starting point of how we were going to develop this whole campaign together.

Would you say that the energy is what drew you to working on this campaign?
I think they were drawn to me in that regard. But I’m a fan of Tic Tac. They are one of those staple brands you grow up with. There’s Kleenex when you think of tissue paper and when you think of mints you think of Tic Tacs. It’s a household name and I’m already a fan of the brand. When they pitched me the idea and said it was along the same lines of my lifestyle, my love for the brand made it an easy one because I like to work with brands that have a natural synergy. It’s hard to work with a brand that’s polar opposite of what I’m doing.

I’ve been so many of your shows! You performed at a New Year’s Eve party in Niagara Falls and it was one of my favourite ones ever. What is your secret to staying refreshed and having that huge energy when performing hundreds of shows every year?
I remember that one! I did two shows that day. People ask me this type of question all the time and I try to go deep into my head and find this very profound answer but it’s really, very simple. It’s what I love to do and I’m very grateful. At the end of the day, there’s two things: it’s mindfulness and gratitude. Those two things will change your life if you apply them to how you live. I’m just grateful to be in a position to be able to do what I love to do when most people have to work two, three jobs and then have … like a couple hours to do what they love to do. And then secondly, being present in the moment is very important. I keep trying to be a student of that and get better at it. When you’re more present with what you’re doing, the value of what you’re doing means so much more. That’s why I’ve played five different shows in five countries in 40 hours. And I’ll do a sixth one if that’s possible. I’ll find the time to sleep on the plane because of course I get tired but we’re human beings. We get tired physically. I try to keep my mindset wide awake.

How did you come up with the concept of caking people at your shows?
I want people to leave my shows not just having an amazing show, which is always number one — I want them to leave going ‘F–k, that show was incredible.’ But more importantly, I want them to leave knowing they went to a Steve Aoki show. It’s like an imprint and I’ve imprinted you, I’ve cake-printed you (laughing). They leave knowing they were at my show, there’s no doubt about it. You can’t describe it to another person unless they were there. I’m lucky I’ve found something so simple that literally pulls your soul out of your skin and makes you scream. You don’t give a f–k about having cake all over your face, in your clothes and even in your ear hole. You really live in that moment and that’s the moment we all kind of want. We all want to express ourselves so free and wild that we want that moment. If I can give that moment to someone that’s what I live for. That cake is just a tool to make people feel something like that.

DJ/producer Steve Aoki (2nd R) throws a cake at a fan as he performs during the 2019 iHeartRadio Music Festival at T-Mobile Arena on Sept. 20, 2019, in Las Vegas, Nev. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images).

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What inspires you to keep such an amazing drive with your work and your career?
I’m just inspired to be alive. When you’re born, you’re just lucky to be here, to even exist, think, feel, imagine and then you’re gone. You have to really sit back and think. Meditation helps you sit with that and make you feel like that semblance of gratitude. When I wake up I think ‘I better f–king live.’ You think about how fast time flies and you have to wonder if you did as much as you possibly could have done. You don’t want to miss out on things. I think FOMO [Fear of missing out] is a good and bad thing. For me, it’s about being efficient with my time. We all have the same 24 hours. I literally go through my schedule every day and I make sure I’m doing what I want to do, what I love to do and take away the things that are toxic. I do things that make me feel happy and have a purpose and meaning.

You’ve worked with some of the biggest names in the industry. Do you have favourite moments in the studio?
They’re all so different and varied that it’s hard to pick a top moment. I could tell you my last moment was last night. I’m finishing up Neon Future IV, my album coming out in March. I just made a song and it’s the most out of body, out of mind song I’ve ever made my life. I’m really excited to be unhinged and do something completely free. I’m singing on the song. In my songs, I sample my voice and I tweak it and process it. You can’t really tell it’s my voice. But this time I can say that I’m properly singing on (a) song. When I was a teenager, I was in bands and I could sing. I was more of a screamer though. This is the first song that I’m singing in since I was a kid. This is kind of exciting to be able to put it on my album. I usually find amazing singers to sing on my songs. I played all the roles on this one instead.

Who do you think has done the best jump into your pool so far?
Quavo [from Migos] is almost Olympic. He lands like a pencil, he just goes right in. He did it a couple of times and I was impressed. He’s definitely an athlete. There’s also been some funny jumps from T-pain, I’m pretty sure water shot up his a–. He wasn’t happy about that. I think Shaun White was probably the most athletic jump. He was doing gators and back-flips. He is one of the best in the history of snowboarding so you could tell he was comfortable being in the air.
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I saw that you have a song out with Maluma now, which I was very excited for. What’s next for you in 2020?
Neon Future IV is the main project right now. My song with Maluma will be on that album as well. It’s a very diverse album. I got Backstreet Boys, Monsta X, Maluma, Sting and then I have some of my EDM bangers. It’s the longest album that I’ve ever produced. It’s definitely worthy of more than two and a half albums of music. It’s one you have to sit down and kind of journey through the album. It drops in March and I’m doing the Neon Future IV: Color of Noise tour and the first day of the tour is in Toronto.

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(This interview has been edited and condensed.)

Tic Tac X-Freeze features cooling crystals strong enough to refresh any mouth and deliver an extra pop of taste. The mint is 50 percent larger than a standard-sized Tic Tac, and available in Wintergreen and Strong Mint flavors.

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