Mayor Garcetti, 44, who name-checks both the Yellow Magic Orchestra and Charles Mingus while revealing penchants for electronic music and playing piano in his office, is particularly passionate about having Los Angeles host more outdoor music events. "We go to these wonderful places like Coachella or other festivals but we don't have as many outdoor concerts as we should right here in the music capital of the world," he says. "We have the best weather, huge streets, great parks and the revitalization of downtown, which is now one of the most dynamic neighborhoods in the world. It's a place where people are flocking to, from the arts scene to tech entrepreneurs to musicians--it represents everything L.A. is about."
LAoki coincides with the May 12 release of Aoki's third studio recording, Neon Future II (Dim Mak/Ultra Records), which features a number of collaborators, including Linkin Park, who appear on the new single "Darker Than Blood," Snoop Lion, Rivers Cuomo, NERVO, Matthew Koma, Moxie and Walk Off The Earth. It also features spoken word contributions from "Interstellar" executive producer and MIT professor Kip Thorne and director J.J. Abrams (Lost, the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens). The first Neon Future album topped Billboard's Dance/Electronic chart this past October.
When asked if we can expect appearances at LAoki from any of his collaborators present or past (which includes Waka Flocka Flame, Fall Out Boy, will.i.am, Machine Gun Kelly among many others) or artists from his Dim Mak label (which has put out recordings by the Gossip, the Bloc Party and the Kills), Aoki will only say, "I don't want to say any names yet but I'm hitting up all the people I've worked with."
LAoki is not Mayor Garcetti's first foray into hosting live music in Los Angeles. Last summer, Hizzoner helped bring the much larger Budweiser Made in America Festival to Grand Park featuring marquee acts like Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Imagine Dragons and Iggy Azalea. While some initially were critical of having a paid event sponsored by Live Nation take place on city property, a post-event budget analysis showed the festival generated some $15 million in economic activity for L.A. and earned a small profit of $31,000 for the city coffers which helped mute any dissent.
36 Hours With Steve Aoki
While Scion is sponsoring LAoki, according to Aoki's manager, Matt Colon, most of the expenses will come directly out of the DJ's pocket. "This is a big deal, this is the hallmark show of my career," Aoki says in explaining why he's willing to shoulder the event's costs. "Here in L.A., on the streets. It shouldn't be a paid ticket, it should be about community spirit. That's the whole vibe and that's why it makes sense that it happens downtown in LA with the Mayor."
As for any financial gain the city might see from LAoki, Garcetti says increased participation in the Volunteer Corps, which he launched this past October, will outweigh any costs the city might incur. "What we are going to get out of this is volunteerism," he says, "and we know that we'll be able to cover our costs because of the economic activity this event will generate. If people sign up for Volunteer Corps and we conservatively get ten percent of those who sign up helping us out in a given year, that's worth millions of dollars of city resources we spend on things like neighborhood clean-ups and improving our community."
Garcetti commends the Volunteer Corps for helping to replace thousands of care packages for homebound seniors lost in a massive fire before Christmas. He also mentions an upcoming initiative to create the "world's largest mural" along the banks of the Los Angeles River. LA is a beautiful, generous town," Garcetti says, but we never made it easy for people to get involved with our city but now with Steve we are making it easier."
All of which begs the question as to whether or not LAoki will see any of the DJ's patented cake throws. "I always want to push for that level of fun," Aoki says, "and that's one thing about cake: everyone loves cake."
The mayor, when asked about his willingness to get cake thrown at him, gives what is his most political answer of the day: "I really like to supervise my constituents and make sure that they're happy," he says, "and I wouldn't want to take a single piece away from their faces."