Inside the Steve Aoki Studio: Writing Music and Keeping Focused
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The Neon Future Cave is where the magic happens. Steve Aoki’s studio is an incredible space that has been designed to bring out the best in Steve’s expansive creativity. When it comes to writing music, Aoki has capitalized on the importance of having a place that is all his own to find his focus and dive headfirst into the zone – and to stay there for as long as it takes.
Writing Music and the Flow State
If you’re a creative who likes writing music, you probably already have your own personal process. Whether it’s going for a walk, sitting in a quiet room, meditating, or anything else, whatever works for you is unique to your own creative process. Steve’s studio is similarly designed with Aoki’s own preferences in mind. “I call it the Neon Future Cave,” he explains, “because it’s in the bunker of my house and I wanted to enter into this room where I was transporting myself into the future.”1 The way this lines up with Aoki’s own interests and personal style makes it a great place to compose. Managing your environment to get your creativity flowing is an important step in the process of creating art!
Steve Aoki’s studio is designed to encourage his flow of ideas. He’s talked before about the concept of “flow,” a state of mind in which he is at his most productive:
“It comes, and it goes. Sometimes it’s gone, and I’m sitting there banging my head and nothing is coming out, but I’m ok with that. I think I’ve been doing this long enough that I’m ok with that, but when I’m in a flow, I never want to get out of that.”2
The “flow state” is a total immersion into the activity you’re taking part in to the point of shutting everything else out.3 Athletes, artists, gamers, and people from all walks of life are constantly searching for the flow state to help them achieve the best results possible for their passion. Even for us at eSmartr, flow is everything – it’s what our sleeves are ultimately designed to help people achieve. For a musician like Steve Aoki, the studio is a place to find that elusive flow state and put down all of his best ideas to create something special.
In an interview with eSmartr, Aoki explains this concept perfectly: "I do work long hours. I do work, sometimes, through the night to the morning, especially if I'm in the flow. ... I'm a big believer in that concept of flow; once you're in that flow state, you don't want to get out."
The Steve Aoki Studio Process
Music composition is a complex, personal, and reflective behaviour; a 2015 literature review on the subject notes that creative composition is partially dependent on the areas in the brain responsible for memory, as well as self-reflection.4 This is also an important part of the process for Steve Aoki; studio work is often the last step in the songwriting process, as he details in an interview with Music Tech:
“I have a bunch of different melodies and ideas saved in my phone from when I’m touring. … As I travel, I’m always around new sounds, new cultures, and different artists, and that actually informs my music becoming more global … I have basic rudimentary ideas that I produce on the road, but when using headphones, I can only go so far. I bring them back to my studio – the Neon Future Cave in Las Vegas – and that’s when the real experimentation happens.”5
Writing music can be an extremely beneficial process for the writer, especially in the case of someone with as demanding a lifestyle as Steve Aoki. In 2018, a team of researchers worked with patients experiencing severe mental illnesses and worked with them to write their own music; they discovered that the patients who had participated in the study by writing their own music had higher self-esteem scores than those who did not.6 Other studies have found that when “people create their own music, their ‘sound’ and the creation process enable them the freedom to be themselves.” Writing music can become a critical means of “facilitating self-expression in the songwriter.”7 The Steve Aoki studio is where that process of self-expression truly happens.
"You can literally make music anywhere. You don't need a really nice studio. ... But for me, it's like, if I have the ability to create a room where I can transport myself and find myself feeling and getting to a place where I can really expand on that creativity, then I'm going to build that world."
The way Steve Aoki dedicates himself to his music is inspiring, both inside and outside of the studio. His appreciation of the flow state is one of the reasons that Aoki and eSmartr are partners – the eSmartr Smart Compression Sleeve is designed to help facilitate that zone of incredible focus to help creatives get things done. The power of a studio, a sleeve, a “zone” are nothing compared to the power of your own mind, but as Aoki admirably shows us, using all three can make a world of difference. Music is an intensely personal reflection, so you’ll always want to bring your full potential to create your best work.
4. Legge, A. W., M.M.T. (2015). On the neural mechanisms of music therapy in mental health care: Literature review and clinical implications. Music Therapy Perspectives, 33(2), 128-141. doi:http://dx.doi.org.library.sheridanc.on.ca/10.1093/mtp/miv025
6. Chang, B.‐H., Chen, B.‐W., Beckstead, J.W. and Yang, C.‐Y. (2018), Effects of a music‐creation programme on the anxiety, self‐esteem, and quality of life of people with severe mental illness: A quasi‐experimental design. Int J Mental Health Nurs, 27: 1066-1076. doi:10.1111/inm.12414
7. Baker, F. A. (2015). What about the music? Music therapists’ perspectives on the role of music in the therapeutic songwriting process. Psychology of Music, 43(1), 122–139. https://doi.org/10.1177/0305735613498919