John Acquaviva - the Acquaholic Artist

Starting off as a clubber and fan of dance music in the final days of Disco during the late 70's, John turned his passion into a life's work and commitment. Growing with the evolution of new wave, industrial, post-punk and hip hop through the 80s, his eclectic taste and nightclub experience was the foundation for him to become an integral part of club music history in the 1990s. The next logical step was to start a record label. That phase began when he started the hugely influential and now legendary techno label Plus 8 records with Richie Hawtin going from strength to strength ever since.

A pioneer of new music and ideas, John was one of the first people to take notice and embrace electronic music's digital future at the dawn of 2000. First, John got involved with and championed Final Scratch as a new way for DJ's and artists to work. Following its success, John subsequently helped launch, which has established itself as the club music aficionado's go-to shop for dance and electronic music.

2006 has been one of the most exciting and prolific years of John's career as DJ/artist. In addition to his production success, he embraced the white island and launched ACQUAHOLIC. Every Tuesday night throughout the summer in Ibiza at Privilege, John tantalized audiences with his Electro House sound, featuring a lineup of the genre's biggest movers, shakers, and hit makers.

some people in the music business are too serious. You go out, you want to have a good time, don't be so serious (...) Music is good, but you should make a good party
Beat Factor: Your mix CD called 'Acquaholic' is now out on Great Stuff Recordings. The compilation is described as 'The True Electro Experience'. What criteria did you have in mind when finding the tracks?

John Acquaviva: The CD is a party CD. It is also the CD that was together with my night in Ibiza. That is really the island for parties, so it's just fun music, pumping fun music. My criteria when I listen to music, is 'will I buy it'? And if I'll buy it, where will I play it, because if I like a deep track, if I do an old night session or if I play on a beach, I will play different music for different sessions. But if I like a song I will buy it and then I have to decide where I will play it. So, that's my criteria when I listen to demos or records or anything.

Beat Factor: What mixing techniques have you used?

John Acquaviva: This was the last compilation I mixed live, with Final Scratch and I did some edits to make it fit the time. But more and more I do all my radio shows with Ableton. And Richie Hawtin is the most famous for doing his mixes this way; Ableton really is fantastic to make mixes, so I can make my radio mixes fast. This one was like live DJ-ing, so that's the way it is.

Beat Factor: Is the sound from this CD any different from what you play in a DJ set?

John Acquaviva: No, but it was the sound of the summer. It was really this summer hit, so now it's November, so I'm not playing the songs from the CD, because the CD features the songs of the summer. And every day there's more songs, but I played all of these records a lot.

Beat Factor: What is the main idea behind Acquaholic? Your residency is also called like this...

John Acquaviva: To have fun. In different times of my life I was an alcoholic (laughing). It's a funny name. It's for people who like to make a good party, to have fun and just like alcoholic, you have a lot of alcohol, acquaholic, you have a lot of acquaviva and his friends and fun music. That's what Ibiza is. So, you need a funny name, I think it's a funny name for Ibiza, and if you're still like Acquaviva after 13 weeks, then you're an acquaholic, I don't know. It's just a funny name; some people in the music business are too serious. Look, you go to a club, you want to have a good time with your friends, if you're going with guys or girls, you want to have some drink, you want to have a good time, don't be so serious. Music is good, but you should make a good party. And that's what Acquaholic is.

Beat Factor: So, should we expect to an Acquaholic Recordings label any time soon?

John Acquaviva: Ah, noo, Acquaviva is enough. Everyone which is a fan can call this Acquaholic, but no, I have my own labels and work with different labels, so that's enough, we're good.

Beat Factor: Plus 8 Records founded alongside partner Richie Hawtin has been releasing music since'90. Is there any secret in order to keep a record label fresh, at the forefront of dance music?

John Acquaviva: The secret is to have a passion. I mean, to like music, and we like all kinds of music. And Plus 8 was about this, it was really a label for original electronic ideas. Never making the same things two time, but we have a passion in music and life. We wanted to taste life, music and share the music. So it's natural and honest, so that's what it is.

Beat Factor: This is one of the longest running labels...

John Acquaviva: Yeah, and I'm one of the oldest DJs! (laughing) The life of a DJ, every year of a DJ is like a dog. You know how they say, the life of a dog it's seven years. I've been DJ-ing more than 25 years, so I'm almost 200 years old. But many friends tell me I'm not like 200 years old, so this is good.

Beat Factor: What's new on Plus 8?

John Acquaviva: For the last five years, Plus 8 is more Richie. He is been making more the minimal and techno stuff, with Minus and Plus 8. And I've really been focusing on Definitive, working with a lot of artists in South America with south American sounds. Definitive was always a bit more house, now it's a bit more electro. Not as many releases as Minus, Plus 8 have been putting out stuff like Alex Under or Lemon8. But the producers I'm working with at the moment are DJ Remo from Milan, he just get a record for Definitive. Lutzenkirchen is a big producer of this year, so we'll be in the studio; we are all making new music for 2007. I work a lot with Rainer Weichhold. I have some new artists; one is from Poland, called Greg Kobe who's a young but really happening DJ and producer, Damon Jee and Olivier Giacomotto from France and Spain. So, there are so many new people, so many. These are the ones I'm working with.

Beat Factor: Since you are one of the first DJs that helped the launching of Final Scratch, how close do you feel with it at the moment?

John Acquaviva: I still use the second version of Final Scratch and I'm still one of the biggest fans. So I like it, because I cannot travel with so many records, I have like 6000 songs on my laptop, I think it's better than playing CDs. I like using turntables; I don't want to carry my vinyls, so for me it's really the perfect solution. I use Ableton, but only for DJ mixes, I love Ableton but for DJ-ing I think it's not live enough, you have to be able to make mistakes, and you have to use turntables. Because hitting the button and being perfect it's not that cool. Some DJs cheat and make it too easy. For now, I think I will play FS in the next few years, because I don't have anything that would make me change, but there's many new projects coming. I was talking with Richie and there's a bunch of new stuff. The concept of Final Scratch is perfect, and there will be new versions of everything. Native Instruments is working on things so there's all kind of interesting stuff that will happen. Native Instruments is a great company, Ableton is a great company, and there are many good companies for music.

Features Archive


John Acquaviva - the Acquaholic Artist

November 15, 2006 at 9:38 AM CET


Beat Factor

Beat Factor: How did you get involved in the Beatport management?

John Acquaviva: Like everything in music I'm a fan, I meet people who like this very much, so this is a great idea because its super to find the music on the internet for everybody. It's still not easy finding your music. And it's expensive. In Eastern Europe it's expensive, because to pay 10 or 15 euros for a record, this is a lot of money. But, you can't not even find it sometimes.. So to be able to go on the internet to pay 2 euros for a record and get it immediately and download it, this is good. I think the concept of Beatport it's fantastic, and when these guys had the idea I was like 'yes, this is the future'. Because I think everyone should have the chance to get the music and play it, and companies like Beatport help the DJs in the countries of Eastern Europe, Asia, South America, because there are not so many shops. So this is really helpful. At a good price you can find your music, which is good.

Beat Factor: So basically what's your role in Beatport.

John Acquaviva: I'm one of the founding partners. I came together with the guys and I'm one of the guys who made the company. There's Brad, Jonas Tempel, Richie Hawtin, Bad Boy Bill, Native Instruments. Some DJs came together with some fans and business people, so we made this business.

Beat Factor: Do you have any memorable moments from your summer residency at Privilege in Ibiza?

John Acquaviva: Yes and no. (laughing) People think it's very sexy to have a residency in Ibiza. Ibiza is a crazy place but for me this was my first residency, after 12 years of working in Ibiza. So people think it's very sexy, but I worked my ass of because every week we had a party! I had invited guests; I had to take care of everything, so this was the most serious time of my life. I worked and I worked and I worked. All my other friends had fun, all of the line up were my favorite DJs, some of my best friends is Karotte from Germany, who's a great DJ, Mike Monday who was outstanding, Justin Robertson, Sharam Jey, David Amo, these are people who are great DJs. I don't give a shit about rock stars. Because they are like eating at McDonalds. It's not real, so I respect the real DJs.

Beat Factor: What do you mean by rock starts?

John Acquaviva: Well, rock starts are rock starts! When a rock star is DJ-ing, he doesn't give a shit about clubs, about music, is about being famous. If I'm famous, this is nice, but I love music, I love my friends and I love making a party.

So Ibiza was a lot of work, but I invited my favorite DJs, so for me it was a big pleasure. But it wasn't sexy because I worked. I wanted to make sure that the party was good. I'm not like Sven, I'm not like the other guys, I'm serious.

Beat Factor: In this year's DJ Mag Top 100 poll you have reached the 22nd position. Does this have any relevance for your self-esteem?

John Acquaviva: It's funny because I'm an old guy (laughing)..This is really like a beauty contest. I never pushed my friends to vote, but the last few years we've changed the sound, so I really wanted to help promote my young DJs friends. And in turning all of the contraries and the young producer friends I have we all supported electro and I got the benefit because every country and my friends helped. For people who don't know, being on the DJ list its really cool, because people think you're trendy. We've always had our success, and it's a beauty contest. I've always been in the clubs, so it's nice for the people who voted and for the people who don't know to be on such a list, because I think it shows some success. But on the list or not, I've had a good career so... But it's funny, because yes, sometimes you're trendy, sometimes you're not, it's strange.

It's really nice to be successful, but it's my wife who loves me, my kids who love me, even if the clubbers voted for me or not, we make a party every weekend. So, I'm too old to win a beauty contest.

Beat Factor Is there anything you would like to imprrove to your career?

John Acquaviva: Well, now that I did win that beauty contest, I'll have to improve my good look. Yeah, I have to buy more clothes, I only wear free clothes (editor note: he wears a t-shirt with Beatport), I have to be trendier, maybe new glasses... (He was joking!)

I have to buy more music, damn the clothes man! A DJ is for listening, not for watching. I think there's a new generation, and I'm very happy to be part of this new generation; when you talk to some older DJs, you hear ' is boring.., the scene is boring..' I think they're wrong, because the time is always now. I think next year will be more interesting, and if we'll have more success, great! And maybe if we're not trendy, that's fine too, because sometimes people love you, sometimes they don't love you. But it's really your close friends that matter; if you are working very well with your close friend, that's what is important. The world can say, I love this, or I don't understand this, it doesn't really matter, you know? It's about your community.

Beat Factor: How do you get along with your partner Richie Hawtin, considering that you have different music styles?

John Acquaviva: We are like brothers. It's been over 16 years now and sometimes we're very similar, sometimes we're very different. But that's like a family too, if you have a brother or a sister, sometimes you're very close with your family, and sometimes you're not. And we're personally closer that we've ever been, but publicly, he built a great scene, the minimal sound, and the minimal DJs, and me, I went into something different. For five years I was just working, doing my business stuff, always DJ-ing, but not being so trendy, and then two years ago I started making music, and I had a lot of success also. And I really helped the electro scene, I worked with some of the best electro people, I supported them and I promoted them, so now we're also trendy. So publicly our fans are different from the minimal fans, but its still clubbing, and it's just part of life. Richie is still my brother, and we don't talk about such things, we talk about food, some music, we don't talk about beauty contests.

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