Audacious Italian DJ/producer Riva Starr lives in London's trendy quarter, Hoxton. And when he's not hot-trotting across the club circuit, or mixing up a storm in the studio, he's reading his kids a bedtime story. Such is the life and an average week for this feisty Neapolitan — with his roots in vinyl DJing, a degree in Chinese and some sociology gubbins under his belt.
When DJ Mag catches up with him, he's just back from doing a back-to-back set with acid legend DJ Pierre at Tomorrowland. “We actually did a track together for my Hot Creations EP, we're good friends,” Riva, aka Stefano Miele, tells us. He's just released his five years of Snatch comp, and also recently played in Ibiza, Greece and all over the UK. Look out for his forthcoming releases on Defected, Green Velvet's Cajual Records and Nic Fanciulli's Saved.
The track that reminds you of your childhood?
“It's an Italian song to be honest, because I have this memory of my dad just in a very sunny room, in my living room in Naples when I was three or four. He used to listen to this track continuously. He is the one when he finds a track that he really likes, he has the ability to spot it on each and every radio station.
So in one hour he managed to find it twenty times. It's the track that reminds me of when I was young. It's Gianni Togni 'Luna'. We used to have some cool music in the '70s and '80s, we had some very nice electronic bands, progressive bands. From the '90s onwards, things got very bad in Italy. Even the soundtracks for the cartoons were amazing, they used to hire progressive bands with Moogs and stuff.”
The first record that you ever bought?
“MARRS 'Pump Up The Jam'. That track caught my attention straight away, it was so unconventional and fresh. That use of the samples, well I understood later on what they were technically doing with it, going with the groove and that funky bassline. I just remember that the first thing I said was 'Wow', and I went to buy the 12-inch.”
The cheesiest record in your collection?
“Because I was DJing at birthday parties, I was definitely playing some of those mega-mixes back in the day. 'Grease Megamix', definitely this one. I was working in a village where there was the animation and the tourists, and this was one of the records that I had to play every night. Because, you know how it is with the villages, they used to do all the dancing moves to go with the tracks. So if you didn't play the track every night at least twice... I have cheesier ones, but this is a good one.”
The track that’s guaranteed to make you cry?
“It's actually a track that I remixed under my real name, because when I was in Italy I was studying music sociology as well. I had a very nice teacher and I made this project which is global and local, mixed together in terms of music.
So I went to a mobile studio in the south of Italy and recorded these old players — we have a strong musical tradition there. So I made this album and I met this band and they asked me to remix this one. It's Avleddha 'Loja Ja Sensa'. It's very related to a very particular time in my life, so this touches me every time I listen to it.”
An album that you’re currently into?
“I quite like, I know it's not super-new, but I like the Flying Lotus album — he's genius. Love it. I quite like his arrangements, ideas and the way he has these different influences. It's a bit like my concept of not being a purist and I like the way he's working with sounds, chopping them and using them in commercial ways sometimes. The whole concept I really like.”
The record in your collection that you most treasure?
“Well, it's the 'Mezzanine' album from Massive Attack. Because I remember I was playing on the first of January a few years back in a very small place in Naples. A very few years back actually, when 'Mezzanine' was released. Because they were playing in Naples the day before.
And they did this place where people went to drink on three floors. I just showed him [3-D] the vinyl and he drew a little Maradona player, because it's a strong Naples support there, and he wrote me something and I was so proud of it, it's priceless.”
Your all-time favourite track of all time?
“It's pretty hard to say, to be honest. There's so many. I would say 'The Musical Box' from Genesis. I still love it. It's from the 'Nursery Cryme' album and it's where they were all together, Phil Collins still playing drums, Peter Gabriel still singing. It was in their peak time, the best time of their career.
The track is just amazing. I come from rock and hip-hop and electronica, so I have all these very old school records from progressive and rock, from the '60s and '70s. And I must say that that's the one that I really rate, as well as my favourite.”
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