John Acquaviva: The Interview
John Acquaviva became a music lover and started Djing in 1980. He gradually accumulated a small bedroom studio of equipment to produce music similar to the Chicago and Detroit records he enjoyed when he met Ritchie Hawtin 1989. Ever since the founding of Plus 8 Records with, now partner, Ritchie Hawtin in 1989 and the fame and success that came with it, John Acquaviva has been a driving force in the international music and club scene. Constantly on the move, John has notched thousands of worldwide appearances at clubs, events, conferences and festivals to a cumulative audience in millions! Acquaviva is one of the most prized techno DJs around the globe as well as a multi-label entreprenteur- he helms Probe and Definitive Records in addition to Plus 8. Well known for his vast record collection of over 50 000 pieces of vinyl, spanning virtually the entire length of music history And having played through it as well, he is acknowledged by many as aDJ`s DJ. After over 20 years behind the decks John is still a DJ who does not impose his image over a club, but rather one who knows how to entertain and makes a great club even better while taking it in to the future…
Considering you’ve been Djing all across the world and we all know how club scenes are different, in what country do you prefer to play? Where are yours best fans?
I love traveling the world! That’s the best thing about this job. I just love mediterian countries and whole southern Europe! I think people there are more honest and sincere as well and north is a little rougher. I’m born in Naples and grow up in Canada so every time I’m invited on mediterian I’m more than happy to go! But every country is different and beautiful on it’s own way. The good thing about our generation is that we’re open minded and trying to learn from different people in different cultures…
You’ve been working with your label partner Ritchie Hawtin for a long time now so, tell me, in what way are the two of you completing each other and what’s the best thing about working with him?
did you sad competing? (Laugh) because it’s the same thing! We are competing And completing because we are like brothers and I’m the older one! We are doing a lot of things together but with different approach. He is more techno and I just like to play and mix everything!
You are also well known for your huge record collection- over 50 000 pieces of vinyl! Where do you keep them all? Do you have a special warehouse just for rec.??
I have two big houses in North America full of records. They are like my children and I have to work hard to give them a good home! (Laugh) I’ve been Djing for almost 25 years and I’ve always been a junky on buying a vinyl’s. Even now I’m buying more than hundred a month so you do the math…
so what are the 5 vinyls’ you always take with you on gigs? If you can find them that is…
See, when you ask me that is like you’re asking a mother to choose her favorite child! I love all my records and there’s a place and time for all of them! Before it was hard because you can only travel with one or two rec.boxes, but since I’ve started to use the “Final Scratch” technology everything is much easier! I have 3500 songs on my laptop so now my laptop is my record box and I can carry much more than 5 of my favorite records! I love playing music from 80`s and 70`s. I don’t think that disco music is all that fresh anymore but I definitely love the 80`s! I do have all the new rec. but I think that is fun to play something old and crazy when no one is expecting it!
Tell me more about “Final scratch” technology…
Well, F.S. is so simple that it sounds complicated. Basically, everything is the same because you are using the turntables and mixer and just do what you always do except the music is coming from your laptop so all you need is a little round sound card to connect mixer and turntables but everything else is the same! I just show up and plug in but it allows me to play music that is not available on rec. or some special mixes and laptop is so small as well! Even if I want to play CDs! Can you imagine carrying 3500 CDs and trying to find the write the write one?! It has made my life and life of every other DJ so much easier…and now they can’t say something like “Oh, they didn’t want to check my luggage so I can’t come and play” or “ Somebody has stole my rec. boxes!” It’s just something that has made our lives much more flexible…
Are you one of those DJs who are playing they own music all night long, without even considering the reactions of the people there?
You already know the answer to that question…
Then, what do you think about the ones who do?
I’m not a selfish big star DJ and I’m there to make party better. It’s not about me wanting to be better than everyone else! A good party is a good location with good crowd and a DJs who are there to make them feel happy and everybody are equals. That’s why I prefer club scene more then rock or any other scene. But with superstar DJ everyone goes to worship him! And, accurse, there’s a problem with DJ-producers because promotion is important and these producers want to get promotion in magazines but just because someone has a good promotion and a nice haircut- what does that have to do with playing a good music?? I’ve spent all my life in club culture and made a lot of records but my priority is to be a good club DJ! Some of these producers are looking in the mirror and asking, “Who is the most beautiful person in the world?” And they keep looking at themselves! I think that real clubbers can tell the difference! Djing is not a concert!
What are you most passionate about? Producing your own music, doing remixes or Djing?
I think that doing remixes is lot of fun but all these years Djing has been my greatest passion. Some people need to make an album or write a book to express themselves but I express myself Djing and that’s really my priority. I mean, if you really like clubbing- like I do- what a great life you have by being invited to play all around the world?? This is not a bad job and it will always be my biggest priority…
How important are videos in electro music?
Well, if you consider el.music as something that needs to be more traditional and established than videos are very important. It’s actually very hard to find new things and sometimes jung people have nowhere to find out so videos can be a useful tool, but most of the time they are just one good form of marketing. Personally I don’t decide about music or food by watching TV.
When you are producing a record are you trying to adjust your music to fit a mainstream in order to sell as more copies as possible, or you’re just doing what you like, a good and quality music for your audience no matter how big it is?
We had a few hits on our label witch is always a bonus but I think it’s because the songs were originals. You just do something new and original and hope it will connect with people and that people will love it. But Ritchie and me, when we go in the studio, are not trying to do some big mainstream hits. That’s just not what we do. I don’t want to be a big superstar producer, I just do very well and I can do it the way I want. I think that people respect that. I think that people who last long are the one who will stick to their original ideas, concepts and philosophies…
In your opinion- what’s the best tune you’ve done until now?
Maby not my most successful but one of the nicest remixes I’ve done is Ofra Haza- she is an old singer from the 80`s with very beautiful voice…
So, what’s next?
I’m getting ready to do a new mix CD and I’ve done one very interesting remix of one of the “Fat gadget’s” old songs, I think it sounds great and it will be relised soon…
1996 Transmisions Vol.1
1998 From Saturday to Sunday mix
1999 Cream CD 1999
2001 Mainhatten Sound
2002 Jet to Brazil
by Vedrana Maricic
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