A Sit Down With DJ John Acquaviva
Electrionic Music Pioneer winner, John Acquaviva has flourished at the heart of the electronic music scene as a DJ, Producer and Entrepreneur. He began his international career in 1989 with Richie Hawtin by founding one of the worlds best known and influential techno labels, Plus 8 Records.
"For DJs play, play, play. It takes time to master music. You need to know the right songs to play at the right moments. So after parties, warm ups and cool downs, are all part of that process. Only then can you put the music on well."
One of the prominent social dynamics of the left these days is this vilification of wealth
I am a true libertarian. Not a pot smoking or gun carrying one but I am one. I welcome difference in people. I travel around the world to learn from other cultures. I am not this globalization guy who wants a fucking McDonalds on every corner. I support the local cafe because I want to taste to local coffee and eat the local food. You do have to make money though. Unfortunately, there are still many idealistic people who are willing to do work for free. The landlord will always charge you rent though. If a person has an idea they should sell that idea. No system is perfect but if you live in a Capitalist system, why do go the extreme. Ill play extreme Devils Advocate but Im not an Anarchist.
You are very versatile within your musical roles as a DJ/Producer, entrepreneur and now a Executive Producer. How hard do you find it to balance all three careers at once? Talk us through an average day in the life of John Acquaviva
Within our circle, my emoji is the tornado. So when this question comes up, I compare it to being the eye of a hurricane. I like to be in the middle of things the more intense, the better in order to make something happen. I am pretty lucky that I can live in creative time as well as administrative time, day and night. A little bit like quantum physics and schrodingers cat, so to speak, in a duality.
What is your biggest concern about the music industry today? How can technology address that concern?
The industry has been turning a corner where it is paying our record monies with digital sales leading the way. We are still slowed down and sometimes bogged down with antiquated rules and regulations especially with copyright and publishing. This held music back considerably in the first wave of internet compared to many other industries. Technology can help move it forward, however many startups are not fully aware of the past, and like all things if you dont know your history, you are sometimes doomed to make the same mistakes. We work hard to reconcile the two when we participate in conferences and as investors.
Did someone from the dance music industry ever defraud you and how would you prevent that from happening in the future?
Yes especially in the early days. There is a list of bad promoters I think most agents participate in a black list and keep track. This is too bad in that almost all of us artists love the scene and will go to great lengths to do a show in a new place and some promoters really take advantage of this.
What is the most out-of-your-genre track you ever produced?
My first records was actually a hip hop record with an artist called Scott Down. Most people who know me internationally are not aware of this .tho I have played every things as a DJ over my long career.
Have you still got goals?
The cheeky answer is my goal is to survive for the next day! I have a pretty voracious appetite, Im an omnivore, I love working with people I love just enjoying life and grabbing a bite of everything, so i love travelling, so for me in part, its not Just touring as a DJ but touring and meeting people with new ideas and new technologies. For those that dont know me, take a look, were really into bringing our culture, not just culture, but all that surrounds it with the technologies forward so I just love meeting people and I travel a lot of distance to meet interesting people and I also appreciate to talk on and on and hopefully to motivate and inspire people. So its been a pleasure to travel. Im just looking for the next party, the next gig and the next interesting thing person or event.
You co-founded Plus 8 and Definitive Recordings, Definitive being house/tech house focused and Plus 8 more electronic and experimental. You also like to play and produce in different styles. Is there a specific style that you most identify with and is there any new trend in electronic music that you are excited about?
Just like food there is a time and place for everything. So playing Berghain this autumn, it will be full on when playing at a beach or daytime, I would be hard pressed to play even one similar song in those two sets.
Describe a memorable moment from your first experience in Ibiza.
Mine was coming to the Q club early 90s which is now privilege, when it was a swimming pool turned into an oasis. Already a few thousand people the night I played and it was the most enchanting island club experience I had had to date.
How did you make the transition from clubber and fan to performer? And what were the inspirations/influences for the Electro House sound that is currently synonymous with John A.? How do you define Electro House music?
I always loved and bought music wanted to share with my friends and dj was the way to do it since my school days. Electro is not too hard and not too soft about having fun -which sometimes we can all be too serious as producers but always for dancing.
On top of your DJ career you have also been very active in the investment / VC world. Can you tell us a little bit about some of the companies that you have helped fund?
When I met Richie Hawtin and started Plus 8, we hoped that sticking to our roots and culture but taking care of business would allow for a proper balance. Eventually, since we always were pushing and promoting all things technological, we were presented many opportunities to participate in the paradigm shift from analogue to digital. Two notable projects and investments were in finding and founding Final Scratch Technology and Beatport. Since selling Beatport, we have launched Plus 8 Equity partners and have a pretty compelling portfolio that includes Subpac, Pacemaker, Dubs, Splice, Landr, Vadio and Vntana.
For new DJs trying to make a name for themselves today, do you think its important for them to allow themselves the same freedom to explore different musical avenues or should they focus on portraying a clear identity in one style?
In this day, its about establishing a sound and identity then try to grow, its more about the overall experience during the set, their personality and charisma. We actually did this with techno as that is what people first noticed Richie Hawtin and I for.
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