On TUESDAY, OCTOBER 9, Steve Aoki is back yet again with DEADMEAT: LIVE AT ROSELAND BALLROOM. A live concert DVD releasing on Dim Mak Records and Ultra Music, featuring his full performance along with a look backstage with his superstar friends.
This live concert DVD takes you front and center to AOKI’s New York City stop on his electrifying Deadmeat tour. Taking place at the legendary Roseland Ballroom, the show features amazing live performances from Lil Jon, Wynter Gordon, and Polina.
For an all access pass to STEVE AOKI’s Deadmeat experience, pre-order ‘DEADMEAT: LIVE AT ROSELAND BALLROOM’ at Amazon now!
Bits of Mystery DNA, Far From ‘Junk,’ Play Crucial Role
By GINA KOLATA
Among the many mysteries of human biology is why complex diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and psychiatric disorders are so difficult to predict and, often, to treat. An equally perplexing puzzle is why one individual gets a disease like cancer or depression, while an identical twin remains perfectly healthy.
Now scientists have discovered a vital clue to unraveling these riddles. The human genome is packed with at least four million gene switches that reside in bits of DNA that once were dismissed as “junk” but that turn out to play critical roles in controlling how cells, organs and other tissues behave. The discovery, considered a major medical and scientific breakthrough, has enormous implications for human health because many complex diseases appear to be caused by tiny changes in hundreds of gene switches.
The findings, which are the fruit of an immense federal project involving 440 scientists from 32 laboratories around the world, will have immediate applications for understanding how alterations in the non-gene parts of DNA contribute to human diseases, which may in turn lead to new drugs. They can also help explain how the environment can affect disease risk. In the case of identical twins, small changes in environmental exposure can slightly alter gene switches, with the result that one twin gets a disease and the other does not.
As scientists delved into the “junk” — parts of the DNA that are not actual genes containing instructions for proteins — they discovered a complex system that controls genes. At least 80 percent of this DNA is active and needed. The result of the work is an annotated road map of much of this DNA, noting what it is doing and how. It includes the system of switches that, acting like dimmer switches for lights, control which genes are used in a cell and when they are used, and determine, for instance, whether a cell becomes a liver cell or a neuron.
“It’s Google Maps,” said Eric Lander, president of the Broad Institute, a joint research endeavor of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In contrast, the project’s predecessor, the Human Genome Project, which determined the entire sequence of human DNA, “was like getting a picture of Earth from space,” he said. “It doesn’t tell you where the roads are, it doesn’t tell you what traffic is like at what time of the day, it doesn’t tell you where the good restaurants are, or the hospitals or the cities or the rivers.”
The new result “is a stunning resource,” said Dr. Lander, who was not involved in the research that produced it but was a leader in the Human Genome Project. “My head explodes at the amount of data.”
The discoveries were published on Wednesday in six papers in the journal Nature and in 24 papers in Genome Research and Genome Biology. In addition, The Journal of Biological Chemistry is publishing six review articles, and Science is publishing yet another article.
Human DNA is “a lot more active than we expected, and there are a lot more things happening than we expected,” said Ewan Birney of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory-European Bioinformatics Institute, a lead researcher on the project.
In one of the Nature papers, researchers link the gene switches to a range of human diseases — multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease — and even to traits like height. In large studies over the past decade, scientists found that minor changes in human DNA sequences increase the risk that a person will get those diseases. But those changes were in the junk, now often referred to as the dark matter — they were not changes in genes — and their significance was not clear. The new analysis reveals that a great many of those changes alter gene switches and are highly significant.
“Most of the changes that affect disease don’t lie in the genes themselves; they lie in the switches,” said Michael Snyder, a Stanford University researcher for the project, called Encode, for Encyclopedia of DNA Elements.
And that, said Dr. Bradley Bernstein, an Encode researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital, “is a really big deal.” He added, “I don’t think anyone predicted that would be the case.”
The discoveries also can reveal which genetic changes are important in cancer, and why. As they began determining the DNA sequences of cancer cells, researchers realized that most of the thousands of DNA changes in cancer cells were not in genes; they were in the dark matter. The challenge is to figure out which of those changes are driving the cancer’s growth.
“These papers are very significant,” said Dr. Mark A. Rubin, a prostate cancer genomics researcher at Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. Rubin, who was not part of the Encode project, added, “They will definitely have an impact on our medical research on cancer.”
In prostate cancer, for example, his group found mutations in important genes that are not readily attacked by drugs. But Encode, by showing which regions of the dark matter control those genes, gives another way to attack them: target those controlling switches.
Dr. Rubin, who also used the Google Maps analogy, explained: “Now you can follow the roads and see the traffic circulation. That’s exactly the same way we will use these data in cancer research.” Encode provides a road map with traffic patterns for alternate ways to go after cancer genes, he said.
Dr. Bernstein said, “This is a resource, like the human genome, that will drive science forward.”
The system, though, is stunningly complex, with many redundancies. Just the idea of so many switches was almost incomprehensible, Dr. Bernstein said.
There also is a sort of DNA wiring system that is almost inconceivably intricate.
“It is like opening a wiring closet and seeing a hairball of wires,” said Mark Gerstein, an Encode researcher from Yale. “We tried to unravel this hairball and make it interpretable.”
There is another sort of hairball as well: the complex three-dimensional structure of DNA. Human DNA is such a long strand — about 10 feet of DNA stuffed into a microscopic nucleus of a cell — that it fits only because it is tightly wound and coiled around itself. When they looked at the three-dimensional structure — the hairball — Encode researchers discovered that small segments of dark-matter DNA are often quite close to genes they control. In the past, when they analyzed only the uncoiled length of DNA, those controlling regions appeared to be far from the genes they affect.
The project began in 2003, as researchers began to appreciate how little they knew about human DNA. In recent years, some began to find switches in the 99 percent of human DNA that is not genes, but they could not fully characterize or explain what a vast majority of it was doing.
The thought before the start of the project, said Thomas Gingeras, an Encode researcher from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, was that only 5 to 10 percent of the DNA in a human being was actually being used.
The big surprise was not only that almost all of the DNA is used but also that a large proportion of it is gene switches. Before Encode, said Dr. John Stamatoyannopoulos, a University of Washington scientist who was part of the project, “if you had said half of the genome and probably more has instructions for turning genes on and off, I don’t think people would have believed you.”
By the time the National Human Genome Research Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, embarked on Encode, major advances in DNA sequencing and computational biology had made it conceivable to try to understand the dark matter of human DNA. Even so, the analysis was daunting — the researchers generated 15 trillion bytes of raw data. Analyzing the data required the equivalent of more than 300 years of computer time.
Just organizing the researchers and coordinating the work was a huge undertaking. Dr. Gerstein, one of the project’s leaders, has produced a diagram of the authors with their connections to one another. It looks nearly as complicated as the wiring diagram for the human DNA switches. Now that part of the work is done, and the hundreds of authors have written their papers.
“There is literally a flotilla of papers,” Dr. Gerstein said. But, he added, more work has yet to be done — there are still parts of the genome that have not been figured out.
That, though, is for the next stage of Encode.
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Premiering during Steve Aoki‘s mainstage set at the sold out 2012 Tomorrowland Festival, Steve Aoki & Angger Dimas vs Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike’s ‘Phat Brahms‘ is sure to become one the the dance anthems of the year.
This year’s Grammy ceremony was the most social TV event in history, and Tuesday night Grammy U decided to continue the interactivity trend by hosting a livestream Q&A session from the Los Angeles Film school with two of EDM’s biggest artists, DJ/producer Steve Aoki and DJ/producer/artist Kaskade.
Steve Aoki founded his own label, Dim Mak Records in 1996, and the label is home to numerous other electro house artists and has released over 250 records. Aoki’s latest solo album, Wonderland, features guest vocalists and musicians such as Travis Barker, Kid Cudi, LMFAO, and Will.I.AM.
Kaskade (Ryan Raddon) has released seven studio albums during his 20 year career, and his latest, Fire & Ice, released by Ultra Music, scored nine Top 10 hits on Billboard’s Hot Dance Airplay Chart. He has appeared at all the major summer music festivals, has performed between 150 and 200 headlining shows a year for the last 10 years, and currently has a monthly residency at Marquee Nightclub & Dayclub in Las Vegas.
The event was streamed over a Google+ hangout, and for those of you who were unable to tune in, here’s a play by play. (Please note, while I was typing furiously the entire time, there may be some paraphrasing.)
Once students from San Francisco and Chicago were connected via satellite, the event moderator, Robin Nixon (The Recording Academy Los Angeles Chapter Governor), introduced Kaskade and Steve Aoki to thunderous applause before jumping right into the Q&A.
Since there are many students aspiring to do what you guys do in the audience, did you choose to do this? What was your journey? How did you get there?
Steve Aoki: I grew up listening to straight-edge hardcore when I was in my tweens. Being in that community had a band spirit. We’d always come together with friends and make music. I started a label when I was 19, got into production when I moved to LA, and then started remixing in 2005. Bloc Party was the first band on my label. I then learned how to use Pro Tools and started producing. This most recent album, Wonderland, took 3-4 years to finish. What my past taught me is to be proactive in your community — be it starting bands, zines, anything. All my friends would pick up instruments and play horribly but still do it — it’s all about community support.
Did you always want to be a performer/artist? How did you discover DJing?
Steve Aoki: I stumbled into DJing. I started at 22, which makes me a late bloomer. I got my start DJing hipster parties — my group didn’t go to raves. We’d throw parties with DJs like Interpool/Bloc Party and didn’t know about Doc Martin or the like. I actually started DJing in Los Angeles on Cahuenga about 2 blocks from this current venue.
Kaskade: I was born in Evanston outside of Chicago, and being in high school in the ’80s, I was intrigued by the new house genre that was emerging. I’d listen to house mixes on the radio, take trains into the city to check out new music. It was a crossover moment — these “art of noise” DJs in Chicago were blending with early house music and the scene was inviting — and I dove in from there. I was all into vinyl and hanging out in the city and buying records. I always laugh at kids complaining about paying $1.99 for a track since back in the day a domestic record cost $4.99 and an imported was $8.99!
Do you have a record player?
Steve Aoki: I think of record players as before DJs. Turntables are a different context to me.
What was your musical journey? How would you say your path into producing happened?
Steve Aoki: I started as part of a duo called Weird Science, and I learned a lot from my production partner Blake Miller. I started maturing more as a producer and learning there are different ways of looking at the structure of a song when I started doing collaborations with people like Laidback Luke, Afrojack, and Tiesto. My last album took me three years. I would hammer out a track, count it as finished, and then 6 months later would restart and not find that I was looking for. It was a real struggle. When I started working with other people, that’s when I started getting insight and closure. For example, I produced “No Beef” with Afrojack in 4 hours versus the countless hours of time on other tracks. Since I started off doing remixes, I was used to having the idea and direction being laid out, and it’s much easier. Working with vocals helps me, and mistakes become the journey.
How did you make the leap from performer to producer?
Kaskade: I got my start buying records, and in the beginning, no one would hire me. I slowly bought pieces of gear like a sampler 909 and 808, and then I started wrapping my head around how people were making the sounds. For me it made a lot of sense as I was never a team player. I was a skateboarder, and I loved sitting alone, being a one-man-band where I could program for hours and have a good time. When Pro Tools introduced Sound Designer II, that was the first time that producing really made sense to me. Instead of sampling and working on a tiny screen, I could see the waveforms on the screen and actually edit things. That’s really when producing started clicking for me. I could make re-edits, do rudimentary remixing, and put everything I had into it.
How has that progressed? What does your studio look like now?
Kaskade: I just moved into a new studio, so there was a definite cleansing process. In the beginning I was stringing together my equipment from secondhand shops and friends. Then I moved to SF right at the time Reason came out. I sold the gear since I couldn’t fit it into my apartment, although I tried to convince my wife we didn’t need the space it would take for me to keep my equipment. So that’s how I sold a lot of the vintage stuff and got into the more digital side and switched to laptops plugged into Pro Tools. I love the vintage stuff, so if I want the real thing, I’ll rent it for a week, but I’m a Pro Tools guy.
Steve Aoki: My early days were spent always using friends’ stuff. I was working out of the Dim Mak office with a Juno 106 at first, and then moved to floral studio where I was just doing remixes. When I moved into my house, I converted one room into a studio, switched from Ableton to Logic, and my set-up now is very simple.
You’re both on the road a lot and both have home studios. Describe the creative process that happens when you’re on the road.
Kaskade: The dream is to be able to do it all on the road. I carry a laptop around, but I don’t get a ton done on the road since there’s barely enough time to sleep, and you’re running around from place to place. I started doing a radio show on the road and doing it in Ableton, but until the last 2-3 years, it was pretty difficult to do on the road, so the majority is done at home.
Is it on your own schedule or are there expectations from the label?
Kaskade: When I start a new album, I see what I’ve started — there’s usually 30-40 ideas I’ve started on the road, some only 30 seconds — and go from there. For me, I don’t have any obligation to Ultra Records, and I do what I want.
Steve Aoki: I tried to start producing on the road since there’s much downtime on airplanes, but eventually I just realized I could sleep during that time. You want to use that downtime, and there’s generally some downtime in the cities before you play, but it’s difficult. I found that on my Identity bus tour I was able to finish several main concepts around some songs. Datsik and I were on the same bus for 60 days, and the spirit is so much fun. I really enjoyed the collaborative spirit that came out from the tour.
Do you bring an engineer or do you do everything?
Steve Aoki: I didn’t bring anyone for this one. For the final mixing on Wonderland, I gave it to the guy who did the mastering on my other remix albums.
Kaskade: The same guy mixed and mastered all of my last 7 albums. As far as engineering, it depends on the budget. With vocal sessions, it helps to have an engineer and be able to sit back and know this is the take I want but it’s not in the budget every time. If I could afford an engineer every time, I could be a little lazy.
Tell us about the selection process for who wants to work with you. Is there a short list you choose from?
Kaskade: Up until now, I just mostly hit up friends or friends of friends. Now I hit up people like Skyler Grey asking if we can work together. For me I’m looking for people that are fun and cool to work with and want to make interesting music and sound different. In Chicago everyone was doing gospel house, and that’s cool, but I want to find my own way.
Steve Aoki: My selection process is also organic. First of all, I live in LA, which helps a lot as a lot of these people actually live here. Will.I.AM., LMFAO, Travis Barker, and others just come out and rock the beat right there.
Are you both doing your own tweets?
Steve Aoki: I’ve done every single tweet except the last one.
Kaskade: 99% are my own, yes. Sometimes there’s a news thing, so I’ll ask someone to send it out as I’m getting on a plane or something.
Is there a strategy or is it just a natural rhythm for your social media?
Steve Aoki: For me, it’s almost like when you throw up in your mouth. It’s a little excessive. I’ll get going on green tea, and I’ll say total fucking shit, and when I get bored, I’ll just get on there and bug people.
Kaskade: Most of the time I’m more controlled, but sometimes I’ll go on a tirade.
Steve Aoki: This is coming from the guy that caused a riot. (LAUGHS)
Kaskade: I feel that Twitter is a direct interaction with the fans — not so much Facebook. It is something I do on my downtime, and I feel it’s cool to interact with the people who got us to this place. I have to speak to my fans directly, and I find it very rewarding. If someone has lyrics that I wrote on their body, then I’ll retweet it, but I obviously can’t retweet everything. It’s all done in slivers of time, and timing is everything.
Steve Aoki: For me, I’ll retweet it if it makes me laugh out loud. And I’ll ask fans where to go for good noodles in random places.
Robert Nixon: Hear that everyone? You can use social media as a route of speaking to your artists directly.
Let’s talk about the growth of the EDM movement. Shows and productions have gotten bigger, so tell us about your live show.
Kaskade: My Freaks of Nature tour finished a month ago. The Identity tour made me realize I needed to add a lot more production and inspired me to hone in and perfect it. It’s a challenge as an EDM artist because people want to see something on stage — its hard to just throw a card table on stage and perform. When coming up with a theme for my tours, I collaborate with others, including lighting professionals, visuals, etc. and try to come up with a show that is congruent with the tone.
Steve Aoki: ID tour was pivotal for me, too. I had a bus followed by a semi-truck carrying the production. It needs to be complementary to the music. Kaskade’s visuals are crazy tough! You did it. Your shit was on fire. When you go on, my arms are already in the air, and I don’t even realize. Visuals are a huge part of the show, and the DJ is just a small part of the experience. It’s really all about the sound.
Kaskade: I’ve had some amazing moments with DJs and people in a 300-person party warehouse in San Francisco with just a flickering lightbulb. In the press and media it’s been portrayed as people are going to shows for the visuals, but it’s the music that drives us here at the end of the day.
Do you guys have one specific moment/show/party with one lightbulb where you realized you’d arrived where you wanted to be?
Kaskade: I’ve never had that one moment, an Avicii like moment where “Levels” came out. I’ve had great moments along my way, but not one moment. I’ve been DJing for over 20 years. I’m 40, and I bought my first record at 15. It’s been a real steady and slow progression.
Steve Aoki: A million shows plus — every one of them is important and meaningful if the connection is there between me, the music, and the crowd.
What advice or inspiration would you give to those listing out there?
Kaskade: If you truly love what you’re doing, continue to do it. Find out more, learn more, and continually be improving. When I was broke in SF and flying to Winter Music Conference, all those moments were important, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Figure out what you really love and just keep doing it.
Steve Aoki: I 100% agree. It’s all about what defines you as a person. We all come with different life experiences, and it’s important to bring that out. It’s all about being authentic –- be the best at experimental noise, progressive house, whatever. What drives you is what’s going to make you become the best.
What’s it like when you work with non-EDM artists?
Steve Aoki: I write tracks specifically for them. For example, Iggy is very specific. It’s got to make sense for the artist.
Kaskade, how do you keep your signature sound through the change of EDM?
Kaskade: I’m glad you say that because some say I sold out in 2005. People who collaborate are like-minded. I consider myself a songwriter, and that carried through the seven albums. No matter how you produce it, it will come through.
What do you think of the term EDM?
Kaskade: There’s a million different genres in the world, and it’s cool that I can tell the newspaper guy that “I’m EDM.”
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