Dixie D’Amelio Gets Caked by Steve Aoki

Photo by Brad Heaton

The day visionary DJ and producer Steve Aoki met 21-year-old TikTok star Dixie D’Amelio in Las Vegas, he knew they needed to get in the studio together. At the Los Angeles leg of his HiROQUEST: Genesis tour, the crowd went wild as the pair previewed their upcoming single with Jimmie Allen, “Older,” which dropped today. In a display of tradition, Aoki hurled a sheet cake at D’Amelio’s face, solidifying their status as collaborators. Though they hail from different generations, the two rose to fame in similar ways, with Aoki coming up during the Cobra Snake Myspace era and D’Amelio amassing millions of Gen-Z followers on TikTok. In 1996, Aoki founded Dim Mak, his record label and lifestyle brand, and has ventured into food and philanthropy since. D’Amelio, a multi-hyphenate herself, founded a clothing line and stars in The D’Amelio Show in Hulu, recently renewed for a third season. Aoki is a veteran of the music game, but he admits there’s a lot to learn from the way D’Amelio has channeled her online celebrity. “Although I’ve been in the game a long time, I’m always a student,” he told her over Zoom, a few weeks before “Older” hit streaming services. “And from you, Dixie, I’m learning a lot from what you’re doing with culture.” On the heels of their Los Angeles show, the pair talked about their favorite music festivals, meeting Beyoncé, and finding their inner child.—MEKALA RAJAGOPAL


DIXIE D’AMELIO: Hi! How are you?

STEVE AOKI: Where you at?

D’AMELIO: I’m in our office in L.A. Are you in L.A.?

AOKI: I’m in Vegas. How’s the weather?

D’AMELIO: It’s so windy here right now.

AOKI: It’s actually really windy here too. I used to live in L.A. back in the day. I miss it. I’ve lived in Vegas now for like 8 years. The first time we met was in Vegas, right? That was awesome. I think that’s where it all kind of—

D’AMELIO: started. 

AOKI: I remember meeting you and you were like, super cool. And I was like, we should make a song and do a record together. I’m so happy you loved what I sent to you.

D’AMELIO: It was really cool, really fun. And I loved it from the beginning, everything about it. I’m so excited for it to come out.

AOKI: Yeah. You know, I’ve been teasing it in my shows, too. It’s good to see the crowd singing along with the main hook of the song. It’s so catchy, it’s such a feel-good song.

D’AMELIO: You’re so amazing. It was so much fun and the crowd was so happy to be there. I always get nervous like, “What do people think of me? Do they know me?” But they all seemed very supportive and they were all having a good time.

AOKI: Beyond supportive! Once I said your name they were in shock because that’s what’s so great, when you completely surprise people. You could tell, that crowd just absolutely just devoured you. They loved you. It was the first time I ever played it, too, so it was so nice to do it together. 

D’AMELIO: Yes, it was so much fun.

AOKI: I can’t believe you wanted to get caked. I was like, “Dixie wants to get caked??” 

D’AMELIO: I had to, I had to. I honestly had cake in my ear for a couple of days. I’m not gonna lie, I don’t eat cake at all, but I did take a couple of licks off my arms. 

AOKI: You know, it’s a tradition. I’ve caked so many of my collaborators and music partners. I can’t wait to find another show, another festival, after the song is out, where everyone’s got the song stuck in their heads already.

D’AMELIO: I would love that. What’s your favorite music festival?

AOKI: My favorite music festival? Actually, I’m flying out to one… I’m actually leaving my house in an hour.

D’AMELIO: Oh, wow!

AOKI: I’m going to France. So I’m talking about Tomorrowland in Europe in the summertime. The most magical festival I’ve ever experienced, but they have a Tomorrowland Winter, which I’m actually flying out to right now, and they do it in the French Alps, which is really, really cool. It’s right in the mountain you could ski or snowboard right to the après-ski area where they have a stage and everyone is raging in their boots. It’s kind of epic.

D’AMELIO: I’m always like, “Oh, I don’t like music festivals,” but I don’t think I’ve been to one like that. I went to Gov Ball when I was in middle school and I feel like that’s a totally different thing.

AOKI: I love Gov Ball.

D’AMELIO: When you’re like, a freshman in high school its probably a different experience than being on stage.

AOKI: What’s your favorite festival?

D’AMELIO: My favorite I’ve been to is Made In America, that one was really fun.

AOKI: That’s a really fun festival. I have a story about that one, too. So I played Made In America. It was the first time they did L.A. so it was a while back and I was playing and I look to my right and Jay-Z was there watching with Beyonce! And you know I was shook. This is royalty watching. I know it’s their festival but I didn’t think that they would come see me play. I remember John Mayer played before me on a different stage. It was an interesting contrast of music genres with his music and his sound and then you know, my sound. But I got to meet Beyonce then and Jay-Z and I was just mind blown.

D’AMELIO: The same thing happened to me at Made In America in Philly. My sister and I and my parents were walking around. We look up and we just get flashlights in our eyes like, “What’s going on?” And we look up. We were like, “Oh my god, what the heck? How are you guys watching this festival?”

AOKI: She’s Queen B.

D’AMELIO: She’s Beyonce. But it was an honor to be able to do a song with you because I’ve honestly been a fan for a very, very long time. I love your songs. And the music video was a blast. That was a great day. Everything was so fun and energetic.

AOKI: I love how the video really shows that too, like the generations of all the old people, but they’re also like you see them when they are really young, and we’re all just having a good time, and you know, embracing life.

D’AMELIO: I don’t know if you shot with the kids, but they were really funny. I don’t spend a lot of time around kids, but they were like, “So do you have a boyfriend?” “Who’s a better dancer, you or your sister?” I think I accidentally cursed or something and they were like “Oh my gosh! I heard that!” I’m just never around kids, so it’s so funny. 

AOKI: I felt very lucky to not be the center of attention and just watching you handle it. So, what is else going on? What are you up to?

D’AMELIO: Working on new music, kind of. I went to Nashville for some writing sessions, which I loved. I would love to go back for like a month. It was so amazing. In every session, I got an amazing song. So kind of finding my groove. I want to get more comfortable on stage. With you, it felt so comfortable and the crowd was amazing. I think that was my best performance so far, personality-wise.

AOKI: You absolutely owned that stage. You came out smiling and beaming. Everyone just sucked it in. It was just such a moment. I don’t know when or how, because our schedules are so busy and crazy, but we have to find some time to perform after the song is out.

D’AMELIO: That would be so much fun. We need to figure it out.

AOKI: I need some help with my TikTok game. I know you’re the goat you know?

D’AMELIO: You kill the content! Y’all had the videos out immediately. It was so good. I did get a few comments saying I needed some practice on cake throwing. But yes, I can help you with some TikToks. We could definitely get a trend going for “Older.”

AOKI: I wonder what we would do. It would be cool to do some kind of morphing of the face or something, where we can use some sort of AI app. Like where you’re young and then a baby and then old…

D’AMELIO: I love that. It’s such a fun summer song, I’m so excited for everyone to hear it. 

AOKI: One thing I’ll say is that, although I’ve been in the game a long time, I’m always a student. I’m always learning. And from you, Dixie, I’m learning a lot from what you’re doing with culture. What you did is you disrupted your culture, but you magnified it across every lane and then you focused and honed it onto your skill set, which is singing. You have many skill sets, but I love how you were able to just do something in your bedroom and magnify it across the world. It’s just incredible and I’m very honored to have a song with you and have fun on stage with you.

D’AMELIO: Sometimes people don’t want to learn and they’re like, “Oh that’s the internet, that’s TikTok,” and whatever. But it helps everyone involved. And it’s so fun and people love it. So there’s no point in fighting it. For the people and the artists who do adapt and connect with people through TikTok and any social media platform, it’s really fun, at the end of the day. 

AOKI: You embrace the fun. It’s not manufactured. Like 10 years ago, it was a different platform. Five years ago, it was different. And now this is what it is. You’re using the platform and you’re just having fun. What I’ve learned is that you don’t think too much about it, you have fun with whatever you are doing. That’s what I do at my shows. I find my inner child and I embrace that and have fun with the crowd.

D’AMELIO: It’s so obvious that everyone is having a good time. Every single person there had a smile on their face. It’s rare nowadays to have that many people in a good mood in one place. 

AOKI: Especially when the cakes come out. When you got caked, I was so happy about that moment. It’s indicative of your nature. At the end of the day you’re like, “Who cares? Let’s have fun!” and that’s the whole point. I’m so happy about that night and that special celebration of our new song together.

D’AMELIO: I love that.