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 world’s best known and influential techno labels, Plus 8 Records. In 1993, Acquaviva and Hawtin also founded Definitive Recordings. An acknowledged pioneer of new music and ideas, John was one of the first people to take notice and embrace electronic musicʼs digital future at the dawn of 2000 by championing Final Scratch. Following that success, John took another enormous step to help launch Beatport.com, the biggest dance-music download site in the world.
He continues to be in demand, recently playing at the closing of Space and Privilege in Ibiza and upcoming gigs at Berghain and BPM.
Congratulations on winning the Electronic Music Pioneer award.
This award not only recognises your musical talent but also your vision and innovation that has helped drive the scene forward. Was it a conscious decision to create new ways to play music or did it develop through pushing your own musical boundaries?
To be honest I think it mostly evolved by constantly being restless and trying to push boundaries. When one gets overly satisfied the fire and drive tends to be lacking I think.
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.
For new DJs trying to make a name for themselves today, do you think it’s 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, it’s 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.
On your recent releases you worked with Andrea Doria, Madox, Nihil Young, Rosenfeld and, of course, your Definitive label partner Olivier Giacomotto. Have you any interesting new collaborations planned or is there anyone on your wish list that you’d still like to work with?
The last 10 years i have covered a lot of tracks with some great artist of this generation. I AM NOT DONE YET and have been in the studio with m.O.N.R.O.E. as well as Olivier Giacomotto and Manuel De La Mare and always open to collaborate. I have always shared the credit and wish all DJs were correct with that as we are a community and often more than the sum of our parts.
On the music front, what does the future hold for John Acquaviva and Definitive Recordings?
We have often been on the middle ground, but after all these years, I personally feel a real tug into the deeper proper underground world. So nothing too easy and continue to explore and hopefully define club culture.
Despite being at the forefront of the digital revolution, we’ve heard that your vinyl collection is now ridiculously large. How many have you got and where do you store such a collection?
After 40 years of collecting, I peaked at close to 70 000 records. To confess I have sold some off to a few friend with collector shops as I want great records to be in the hands of people who will use them more than me. This is one of the reasons why I live in Canada we have lots of space and my house does too. I keep them all on my third floor, kind of locket up since some records have gone batty and perhaps a little crazy for this day and age 😉
Aside from music you’re quite the entrepreneur, how do you manage to balance the night life with the office work?
No sleep. I often use the tornado as my emoji amongst friends. I really get energized when I can do something cool and work with people be it new or old.
You recently produced a movie “The Red Man” which has just went on general release, how did it come about and are we going to see more movie projects from you in the future?
There you go, proving I don’t sleep. I have been long time friends with the writer and director Jimmie Gonzalez and the more I learned and saw from him about Red Man film simply captivated me so I got deep into it and became his partner so we could bring it to life and we did. It is now available on iTunes, Amazon and all other online stores as well as on DVD soon. You can find more info on it at: theredmanfilm.com . I am very proud of our first effort and happy that people have strong feelings about it after watching, which makes our work done well. I got the bug and certainly look to do more and am in conversation with a few new movie projects as I write.
Thanks for time!