In the documentary “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead,” viewers are thrust into the world of Steve Aoki, the Grammy-nominated electronic dance music superstar who stands as one of pop music’s most tireless multi-hyphenates: founder of the taste-making record label Dim Mak and a chart-topping producer-remixer-DJ with his finger pressed firmly to the pulse of cutting-edge youth culture.
The film was released exclusively on Netflix, the world’s leading Internet TV network, on Aug. 19.
The film premiered to a sold-out audience at the Tribeca Film Festival this past spring. Aoki’s story will now see a global release into homes in over 190 countries worldwide, joining such highly regarded Netflix original titles as “House of Cards,” “Orange Is the New Black,” “What Happened, Miss Simone?” and “Making a Murderer.”
“I’m beyond proud, humbled and excited that ‘I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead’ will be released as a Netflix documentary,” said Aoki. “As a longtime Netflix binger, it’s a dream come true to have my documentary featured alongside such other prestigious original content. Being a truly global platform, Netflix will allow the film to reach my fans all over the world on every imaginable screen.”
A vulnerable and often bittersweet film, “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” was shot over the course of three years, during the making of his “Neon Future” double album (Dim Mak/Ultra Music, 2014/15). It follows his journey to play the biggest show of his career and centers around the complex yet loving relationship with his late father, the Benihana restaurant tycoon, daredevil athlete and former Olympian Rocky Aoki.
From the main stage of Tomorrowland in Belgium to intimate gatherings at his family home in Japan, it’s an inside look at one of music’s most outstanding characters. The story is complimented by interviews with Aoki’s mother (another major influence in his life), sister/supermodel Devon Aoki, along with musicians and contemporaries Diplo, Tiesto, Afrojack, Laidback Luke, Travis Barker, Pete Tong and will.i.am, among others.
The film comes from the same team behind the critically acclaimed documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.” It is directed by Justin Krook and produced by David Gelb (“Chef’s Table,” “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”), Matthew Weaver (“Rock of Ages”), Happy Walters (“The Big Lebowski,” “The Fighter,” “Limitless”), Matt Colon; executive producers Michael J. Mailis, Hajime Inoue and Joanna Shaw; and co-producer’ Susan Wrubel, Nick Stern and Gaku Kaneko.
Alongside the release of “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” and his new club EP 4OKI on July 29, Aoki is making several festival appearances in the U.S., which include stops at KAABOO in Del Mar (Sept. 16), Talking Stick Resort and Casino in Scottsdale, Ariz. (Sept. 24), Petco Park in San Diego (Oct. 1) and Fresno Convention Center (Dec. 10). In between, he’s traveling to Europe for many continental festival dates — he’ll be in Croatia, Norway, Spain, Israel, Italy, France, Germany and the U.K. over the next week — and his residencies at Ushuaia in Ibiza and Hakkasan, Jewel and Wet Republic in Las Vegas. Visit www.steveaoki.com for all of his tour dates.
Upon its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival, the film garnered strong press support:
David Fear, Rolling Stone — “EDM heavy-hitter Steve Aoki gets the docu-profile treatment – how they didn’t end up calling this ‘Let Them Eat Cake’ is a mystery to us – as filmmaker Justin Krook follows the DJ around on tour and gets him to open up about his workaholic lifestyle … Expect personal confessionals, raucous parties, some choice performance clips and yes, frosting-covered baked goods. Which will probably be flung.”
Paul Cantor, Billboard — “Over the past decade, Steve Aoki has become one of the most in-demand entertainers in the world — he’s equally renowned as a DJ, owner of Dim Mak Records and for his own unique brand of rave-ready EDM hits. His exploits have brought him fame and untold riches, if not always respect and closure. Those themes are largely explored in ‘I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead,’ a biographical documentary which tracks Aoki’s unlikely rise, and also shows why in some ways it’s been a bittersweet journey.”
Ilana Kaplan, PAPER — “For years, Steve Aoki has been known as one of the EDM world’s most hard-working and controversial figures. From his crazy stage antics to his admission of not being a DJ, Aoki knows how to get the public’s attention. Aoki’s latest project however, focuses less on his position as a DJ and more on his family history and why he’s so diligent about working. As you can gather from the title, ‘I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead,’ it’s not necessarily an uplifting film, but an important one.”
Sean Egan, Thump — “(T)he film makes quick business of establishing Aoki — whose most famous depictions are literally one-dimensional — as a surprisingly multi-faceted subject. Steve spent his childhood as an outcast of sorts on the West Coast, the son of the late, absentee restaurant magnate, Rocky Aoki, founder of Japanese restaurant chain-cum-fire-hazard Benihana. This is fairly common knowledge, but the film reveals that Rocky was rarely around, and provided no financial aid to his son’s musical endeavors — which began when Steve established Dim Mak Records in 1996 out of his tiny apartment, releasing early records by Bloc Party and post-hardcore thrashers Blood Brothers before becoming a foundational part of the EDM quasi-movement. Steve then parlayed that success into ascending the ranks of the electronic music world as a DJ.
“The film juxtaposes this younger wide-eyed version of Steve with the present day’s —where he’s one of the most financially successful electronic artists in the world, traveling extensively, playing upwards of 300 shows a year, and regularly headlining huge festivals like Tomorrowland.”