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The Weird World of Steve Aoki Impersonators

We asked the original Steve Aoki impersonator to review another lookalike's viral video from Stereosonic.

by Ziad Ramley
05 December 2014, 10:22pm

Photo by: Matsu Photography

Earlier this week, Facebook's churning data servers took a heavy blow from a viral video filmed at a dance festival/steroid convention in Australia called Stereosonic Perth. Inspired by another viral video, "10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman," a man dressed like Steve Aoki mimics wanders the festival grounds silently and films the reactions of people confusing him for the celebrity DJ. (Even when Aoki himself is playing a set onstage.) We got in touch with this imposter—a Perth local named Jarrad Seng—to question him about this stunt. Along the way, we uncovered a worldwide community of other Steve Aoki impersonators, each with varying opinions on his success.

My first thought when seeing Jarrad out of costume was how unlike Steve Aoki he actually looks. He laughs when I ask if he thinks his success at passing off for the celebrity DJs stems from casual racism—people not being able to tell Asians apart. "I don't actually look like him, that's what made it so funny," he says. "In Perth or really any city I go to someone will yell 'Steve!' or ask me if I know that I look like Steve Aoki." When he saw that the real Steve Aoki would be performing in his hometown, the opportunity to take a break from his professional job as a photographer and director was too sweet to pass on. Jarrad got in touch with friends to help him assemble convincing costumes. Right away though, there were problems.

"I waited in line to buy a ticket since I didn't want to go on a media list and have to reveal what I was doing. I was dressed in costume and thought people would know I wasn't actually him, but I could hear people whispering 'Steve! Steve!' Why would Steve Aoki be lining up to buy tickets to his own show?"

Once he had made it through the gates, he was then immediately recognized by a friend who, when hearing what Jarrad was doing, responded with an unimpressed "cool." "It wasn't really the reaction that I was looking for," Jarrad laughs.

"I wasn't prepared for the mobbing," he tells me as I watch the video again. "People throwing their phones in my face. It was funny, but if that was my real life I don't know how I would feel about it."

While Jarrad eventually told people that he was in fact just a normal guy and not a DJ, it did nothing to calm their excitement. Fans either didn't believe him or didn't care. "I could see them doing double-takes and triple-takes—they were so confused. I ended up coming back to the stage [where the real Steve Aoki] was playing and still tricked people."

After the enormous success of the video, Jarrad tells us that he was most surprised by how many other Steve Aoki lookalikes came out of the woodwork to reach out to him. Young, Asian men from all over the world emailed him with praise, gratitude, and stories of their own. Many shared similar experiences when they told people that they weren't actually Steve Aoki.


Jarrad received many emails like the above from "Fellow Fake Steves".

Jarrad isn't the first fake Steve Aoki to go viral. A few months ago, another Steve Aoki impersonator named Don Lim caught the Internet's attention when he appeared on stage with the real Steve Aoki at EDC Las Vegas. Don, an LA photographer and "original #fakeaoki," first popped up on our radar when we met him at Nocturnal Wonderland last year. When we reached out with a link to the video, he was well aware of it and was keen to voice his opinion:

"I woke up the other day and my phone was just full of notifications and shit. Everybody was tagging me and saying I did it first or I did it better and that I should show this guy up. I watched it. It was funny. I guess he did it at the right time because he was inspired by that girl from New York. The fact that it went viral in a day is insane. I actually contacted him that day and gave him props. I said, 'It's me, the original #fakeaoki"—that hashtag is mine—stopping by to say nice video.' I wasn't trying to start a rivalry; I was just giving props. We have the same problem and we're both photographers so that's even more crazy. All in all it's a cool video. I'm sad I didn't get to do it and get that exposure, but it's all good." 


Don Lim poses with the real Steve Aoki at EDC Las Vegas 2014.

Due to its widespread coverage, Googling "Jarrad Seng" no longer provides people with links to his many successful shoots or music videos, and he tells me how keen he is to move on. With a global network of Dim Mak clones now inspired by his success, we don't expect it to be too long before more Aoki lookalikes pop up on our Facebook feeds.

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Ziad Ramley is on Twitter: @ZiadRamley

Tagged:
Festivals
Steve Aoki
Stereosonic
impersonators
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don lim
jarrad seng photography