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Launched this week, Messenger’s “That Close” campaign highlights the many ways that people can connect through the platform, whether through chat or video or creating their own “soundmojis” (basically emojis that play a sound when you send them within Messenger). Aoki and Barker are taking it one step further, filming a “live” mini concert that fans can access through Watch Together, the Messenger feature that lets users watch music videos, TV shows, movies, and more with friends and family in real-time on video chat.
Aoki says it was an no-brainer to work with Messenger, as he’s always used the platform to keep in touch with high school friends and extended family members (the DJ also reveals he has a private Facebook account that he only shares with “very very close family friends”).
It was also a no-brainer for the DJ to team up with Barker for the performance, which was filmed over the summer at Aoki’s place in LA. “Travis is a close friend of mine and I’ve been working with him for over a decade on music,” Aoki says. “This project was a super fun way for us to play together in my house and create some new sounds.”
The two were first brought together by the late DJ AM, who Aoki says was “one of my best friends too.” After DJ AM’s death in 2009, Aoki and Barker became closer, with the two bonding over their shared love of punk and hardcore music. “Obviously Travis is just a legendary drummer for Blink-182 and our worlds were already pretty close [with DJ AM],” Aoki says. “And then, I’m a punk hardcore kid at my core. I started as a singer and then bassist and guitarist in bands. And when I started DJ-ing, I think I remixed [the Swedish hardcore band] Refused. Travis heard that track and was like, ‘Oh, we should work together.'”
The decades-plus friendship has since spawned numerous collaborations between Barker and Aoki, with the drummer — and Blink-182 — appearing on a number of Aoki’s albums. When it came time to prepping the setlist for the Messenger performance, Aoki made sure to include some of their collaborative tracks, including “Why Are We So Broken” feat. Blink 182, “Cudi The Kid” feat Kid Cudi and Travis Barker, and “Halfway Dead” feat. Global Dan and Barker.”
Other Aoki tracks that made the setlist include “Just Hold On,” his collaboration with Louis Tomlinson, and the Aoki remix of BTS’ Mic Drop, one of the group’s first North American collaborations. “We kind of made this a medley of the biggest records I’ve done,” Aoki says.
Everything was filmed over the course of an afternoon at Aoki’s place (a.k.a. “Aoki’s Playhouse,” the DJ jokes), with Aoki in the DJ booth while Barker played drums live over each track. “It was just more like a excuse for me and him to hang out,” Aoki says, with a laugh. “Travis is producing everything under the moon these days and he’s just been blowing up. And I’ve been touring quite a lot,” Aoki explains, “so this allowed us to just get together and crush it and have a blast, man. It was just a really really great day.”
The entire set runs about 25 minutes in length, and Aoki said it was recorded as if it were a live concert, with no stops or fancy editing. The full show is now available to watch in real-time on video chat via Instagram and Messenger, or on Facebook Watch. To check out the full performance with your friends on Messenger, simply start a video chat or Room, swipe up to access the menu, select “Watch Together,” and search for “That Close with Steve & Travis.” You can do the same in an Instagram video chat by tapping the media button in the bottom right and searching for it.
As part of the campaign, both Barker and Aoki also got their own Messenger “soundmoji,” which is a new feature that lets you send short sound clips in your chat with friends or family. In keeping with his DJ gig, Aoki’s soundmoji uses the horn emoji and plays a special air horn noise that the DJ produced just for Messenger.