Steve Aoki Talks Collaborating With Nicky Romero and Kiiara for 'Be Somebody' (Exclusive)
By Paige Gawley
Steve Aoki’s latest single is here, and it’s one you won’t want to miss!
The 40-year-old GRAMMY nominee is back with one of his much lauded collaborations, this time enlisting the talents of DJ Nicky Romero and singer Kiiara for “Be Somebody,” which is now available.
ET caught up with Aoki and Romero, who discussed how the track came to be, passed compliments back and forth and talked about what comes next.
Aoki and Romero, 29, have been friends and fans of each other for years. Once Romero heard the demo for “Be Somebody” he immediately called up Aoki, who quickly signed on to the project.
“We wanted it to stand out a little bit between a pretty saturated, Spotify, music industry [song],” Romero says of their hopes for the track, which features empowering lyrics and a jaunty beat. “So we wanted to keep the coolness, but still add the potential for people who like to stream music and we wanted to mutually merge it together.”
“Once we got the music to a strong place, the lyrics and vocal melodies came next. And the final and important stage was bringing Kiiara in to lay down her incredible vocals to bring it all together,” Aoki notes, via email, of the next steps.
The pair seems to be in agreement about virtually everything related to the track, but nothing more-so than 23-year-old Kiiara’s undeniable talents. In the interviews, both Aoki and Romero referenced “Heavy,” her 2017 track with Linkin Park -- which turned out to be one of lead singer Chester Bennington’s last songs before his death in July of that year -- as a huge sign of her abilities.
“I remember listening to that song and Kiiara’s vocals really stood out to me. She had something sensitive to her voice, something sweet, but at the same time mature,” Romero, who also called her voice “rare,” praises. “I couldn’t really pinpoint what it was. It was definitely a sound and a vocal that I did not hear that often.”
Aoki agrees, saying, “She is an absolute talent and [it] was amazing to work with her. [I] loved her song with Linkin Park and always wanted to do a song with her. She really nailed it on this one.”
In fact, Romero reveals, Kiiara got the track down in just “two or three takes,” which is something he calls “quite surprising. Sometimes it takes about 20 takes before you’re really happy with a song.”
For her part, Kiiara was thrilled to be involved in the song. “I am honored to be a part of this record with Steve Aoki and Nicky Romero,” she says in the press release.
When it comes to the two guys, they have nothing but respect for each other. Romero calls Aoki, “one of the most genuine people that I know in the entire music industry.”
“He came by in my studio in Holland, stayed a whole day; listening to music, playing music, working on songs, but also playing ping pong, telling each other stories from the beginning, experiences,” Romero reveals. “And he was just such an honest, nice guy. He’s definitely an inspiration to many of us.”
It’s mutual admiration society for Aoki, who says that Romero is “extremely talented… and an absolute pleasure to work with.”
After all the hard work -- “Be Somebody” has been in development for over a year -- the musicians seem pleased with the outcome.
“It seemed to work out well. I think we were all pretty happy with the result. Also maybe a little bit impressed, we never thought that it would turn out to [be] the song that it is now,” Romero confesses. “For some reason, it all felt great together. So we got lucky.”
Neither Romero nor Aoki is slowing down now that the song’s out, in fact, both have jam-packed schedules. Romero is busy doing shows, working on solo projects and doing remixes.
Meanwhile, Aoki has a full plate too: a recently launched pizza delivery service, a comic book series in the works -- something he calls “a dream come true” -- and Neon Future III, his forthcoming album that’s due out this winter. Though he’s tight-lipped about all of the collaborations on his latest album, he did confirm that Blink-182 and Bill Nye will make appearances before teasing, “more songs with stunning artists.”
While Aoki has a long and diverse list of collaborations he’d like to participate in -- “Drake. Eminem. Zach de la Rocha. Jennifer Lawrence. Elon Musk. Neil Degrasse Tyson. David Attenborough. Harry Potter.” -- one major collab he’s already finished is with K-pop band, BTS.
Watch the video below for more on his “MIC Drop” remix: