By: Justin Jang
As someone who frequently watches documentaries on Netflix, the last thing I expected to show up on the new releases list was a documentary about an EDM artist. Among works of food, wine, and travel, here was I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, a documentary that follows Steve Aoki’s life and career as he rose to music fame. For any EDM enthusiast, concert fanatic, or aspiring musician, this documentary is truly one of the must-see films of the year.
The documentary primarily centers on Steve Aoki’s major motivations that first led him to pursue music starting with his childhood and his relationship with his father, showing a man behind the seemingly transcendent DJ personality. The film expertly blends family interviews with Aoki’s own personal revelations to create a holistic image that traces back to his childhood and angst-filled teenage years to the development of his love of music. Steve Aoki’s father, Rocky Aoki, is persistently mentioned as a personal driving force due to the larger-than-life personality that his father embodied. Since founding Benihana, Rocky Aoki hot-ballooned across the Pacific, attempted to break speedboat records, and had nearly been killed several times due to his constant antics. There is plenty of footage from interviews to TV programs to corroborate this throughout the film, which help create a complete picture of this massive influence within Steve Aoki’s life.
The documentary draws people from every aspect of Aoki’s life, ranging from his family and friends to respected music industry professionals. Diplo, Will.i.am, Devon Aoki, Pete Tong, and Tiesto are just some of the celebrities that pay tribute to his work ethic and familial relationships throughout the course of the film. Having all of these big names in music offer their own perspective of his 24/7, non-stop working mentality truly puts some faces to the respect that is granted to him. Even the title of this documentary is a testament to his perpetual work ethic.
Steve Aoki is a DJ known for his extreme antics, and this documentary does an exceptional job of showcasing his personality. Performance footage and photos ranging from his earliest college apartment shows to Dim Mak Tuesdays to his Tomorrowland debut and finally his LAoki show emulate the high-energy EDM shows that make you feel as if you’re in the crowd. The directors do not skimp on the documentary soundtrack either. Songs from Aoki’s new album, Neon Future, are played in the background along with older music from his sets at various music festivals and his early ascent as a DJ. In short, the production is nearly flawless, which is no surprise considering that the producers are those of widely-acclaimed documentaries like Chef’s Table and Jiro Dreams of Sushi.
This documentary truly captures how one man’s musical passions were able to manifest itself into the career that he has today. If there is one documentary that you see this year, this is the one. You can view the documentary here.