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Steve Aoki is one of the most prolific DJs in the electronic dance music scene, performing hundreds of shows each year, but Friday, he'll be in the spotlight in a much different capacity than he is during his cake-throwing, champagne-spraying performances.
Aoki is the subject of "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead," a documentary premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival on his life and relationship with his father, Hiroaki "Rocky" Aoki, who is best known for founding the Benihana restaurant chain.
The film is an in-depth look into the inner workings of a man many have described as the hardest working DJ in the world and features Aoki at his most vulnerable. Following the first screening at the Beacon Theatre, Aoki will give a special performance.
“There’s a lot of twists and turns along the way, documenting everything that happened in his music career, all very interesting, but when we laid it out, we had to make some tough decisions," director Justin Krook told NBC News. “We realized this wasn’t just a biopic, this was going to be something more than that.”
A small crew followed Aoki on tour for two and a half years, documenting him both on-stage and during his off-hours. Aoki did not see the film until it was fully cut.
“I was floored because I didn’t really know where Justin was going, and I just gave him all my trust," Aoki told NBC News. "It’s great to relive some of these memories of my dad … memories that I wish I had more of. That was one thing that I thought about a lot after he passed away, I wish I had more memories. I’m extremely grateful that this exists.”
Outside of his music career, Aoki has also made a name for himself with his philanthropic pursuits. He founded the Steve Aoki Charity Fund, which helps fund immediate humanitarian relief and essential medical research.
“Our focus at the moment is on brain health and brain science," Aoki said. "Lately we’ve been working with organizations that deal with brain disorders and diseases like Alzheimer's, ALS, and dementia.”
Later this year, Aoki will again be venturing to a place he’s never been — the White House Correspondents Dinner. He was invited by The Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington, who Aoki met and interviewed for an interview series titled “Neon Future Sessions,” where Aoki interviews influential people in various fields about their version of the future.
Although “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” highlights Aoki’s journey to fame, it doesn’t shy away from showing him at his core, as a workaholic innovator who loved music and his family so much that he was determined to make it and never rested on his laurels.
“I always say I’m inspired by life not just inspired by sounds," Aoki said. "All the different things that move people and push culture in a positive direction inspires me. I’m always learning, always looking to find new ways that become a new passion or a new interest that I can help be a part of or create in that world.“