It’s a collaborative vision that, says John, is fundamental to Shots’ operations. “Each one of our creators is a storyteller,” he says. “Every one of our songs has a visual, and every visual tells a story.” -- JACK TREGONING
Matt Colon, partner/founder
Lawrence Vavra, partner/founder
Few DJs can rival Steve Aoki on air miles. A longtime friend and client of Deckstar Management founders Matt Colon and Lawrence Vavra, Aoki is always looking to play new markets, which has raised the artist-management firm’s global profile.
“Steve is the hardest-working man on the planet,” says Colon, 40, who manages the DJ-producer. “He plays up to 250 shows a year, and you can’t do that only in major markets.” The touring page on Aoki’s website features calendars for close to 50 countries, including China, where he has performed in Guangzhou, Macau and Shanghai, among other cities. Over the last two years he has also targeted such far-flung destinations as Kazakhstan, Beirut and Nepal. “A lot of new markets can’t afford what [top-tier DJs] are used to making, but Steve understands the long term,” says Vavra, 40. And he’s not limiting his global outreach to live shows. Aoki’s remix of BTS’ “Mic Drop” (featuring Desiigner) became the highest-charting Billboard Hot 100 song for a K-pop group. The track hit No. 28 and spent 10 weeks on the chart. (Aoki has also teased new original music with BTS.)
The DJ-producer began 2018 with his first Spanish-language track, “Azukita,” co-produced by Play-N-Skillz and featuring Latin stars Daddy Yankee and Elvis Crespo. The experiment was overdue: Over half of Aoki’s social media audience is Spanish-speaking, according to an analysis conducted by theAudience. Not that his recent streak of cross-cultural collaborations was a boardroom decision. “I wish I could tell you it was strategically planned, but he’s just so prolific,” says Colon.
Los Angeles-based Deckstar’s roster is a rare split between dance artists, including Aoki and Deorro, and rock bands like Rancid and blink-182 -- a mix that has spurred cross-genre collaboration, including a likely Aoki/blink-182 team-up. These opportunities should expand in the wake of Deckstar’s acquisition by another management firm, James Grant Group, which brings acts including Morrissey and Bush into the Deckstar family.
Meanwhile, Aoki, who turned 40 in 2017, is eyeing new challenges. One is playing Cuba, where Deckstar is awaiting the right opportunity. “With too much time off, Steve gets an itchy trigger finger, wondering when the next show is,” says Colon. “He’s an animal built for the road.” -- J.T.