Stefano Miele has been a successful producer since the turn of the Millennium, starting off producing in his native Italy under his own name until he adopted the moniker Madox to produce funky, quirky breakbeat music. He released on Italian label Mantra and UK labels Finger Lickin' and Westway before label politics with Mantra and disillusionment with the breakbeat scene led to him wanting to take a sidestep.
He moved to East London and adopted a new alias, Riva Starr — whose name alone already sounded fabulous — and set about slipping out a few twitchy house tunes onto blogs and suchlike. He didn't tell anybody it was him at first, and soon Claude VonStroke's Dirtybird and Jesse Rose's Made To Play — probably the two coolest house labels around at the time — came calling. Suddenly, following a release on Fatboy Slim's Southern Fried and Get Physical offshoot Kindisch, this mystery figure was the hottest new property in house music.
'If Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade' was Riva's first album, also out on Jesse's Made To Play. Stuffed full of oddball house tracks, it was kicked off by 'I Was Drunk' which reflected Riva's interest in the Balkan music scene. Vocalled by Noze from France, this fun, singalong oompah cut was picked up by Positiva and crashed into the UK Top 40.
Finding that it would sometimes take labels a year to get his tunes out, he decided to start up his own label — Snatch!
“Sometimes though, I must admit that waiting for a year has been good for a release — such as my new EP for Hot Creations that has just come out,” Riva tells DJ Mag. “Maybe if we had released it in 2014, people would have been still too much into that deep house sound to totally get it. Now has been the perfect time for it, and people are going mad.”
Naming his new label after his proclivity for grabbing snippets of other styles of music for his own, he soon set out to build a family of like-minded DJ/producers around himself — a Snatch Squad, if you like. In what seems like a flash, the label, incredibly, is now celebrating its fifth anniversary with a 'best of' compilation — 'Square Pegs, Round Holes'.
Featuring 15 Snatch classics and 16 previously unreleased tracks, it's a great snapshot of Riva's Snatch — if you'll excuse the innuendo. “Five years has gone too fast, man!” Riva exclaims. “But it has also been an amazing experience.
I've had a chance to push some new artists and get amazing music from them — always pushing them to their limit, all the time. I know they hate me sometimes or they don’t understand why I take some tunes and I turn down others. But I’m sure they have appreciated the result in the end. I have the whole picture in my head, and I’m working hard to make it happen!”
The past five years have seen the Snatch Squad boss a tent at Creamfields for three years on the trot and play label parties across the world. “Our idea now is to make parties that are on a smaller scale, more intimate, more connected with the fans,” Riva relays. “Our music is not big room festival shit. I feel the need to connect more on a face-to-face level with our supporters.”
Riva's profile rocketed further a couple of years ago after his single with Fatboy Slim, 'Eat Sleep Rave Repeat', was a worldwide smash. Off the back of it, he could've milked it and 'gone EDM', but has stayed true to his underground roots — DJing, producing, and bringing through other artists.
So what qualities does a DJ/producer have to have in order to be snatched for his Snatch Squad (see box outs for main playas)? “They really have to surprise me, sound quality is essential,” the Napoli-born DJ/producer says. “I want ideas on the tracks.
Sometimes I like to sign simple tools, but I really want the tracks on Snatch to say something and to go somewhere. I want people to make tracks that they like, rather than making tunes thinking about what I like. I always move on somewhere else, all the time — catch me if you can!”
REAL NAME: Sante Pucello
FROM: Frosinone, Italy
BIGGEST TRACK: 'Hold Home'/'Camels'
FAVOURITE FOOD: “Lasagne.”
FAVOURITE STUDIO EQUIPMENT: “Elektron Machinedrum.”
FAVOURITE SNATCH! MOMENT: “'The 5 Years Album'.”
FAVOURITE FOOTBALL TEAM: “Italy National Football Club.”
BRIEF HISTORY: “Ciao belli, I'm Santos, Italian producer and DJ since 1994. I've had more than 600 releases on a large spectrum of labels under a myriad of aliases, producing for people and doing collaborations for labels such as Desolat, Cocoon, Hot Creations, Snatch!, OFF, Virgin, Saved UK, Moonharbour and Dissonant, to name just a few. I've been DJing in clubs like DC10 (Ibiza), Fabric (London), Berghain (Berlin), Womb (Tokyo), Sankeys (New York), Cocorico (Italy) among others, plus festivals all over the world.”
KEY SNATCH! RELEASE(S): “Santos 'Let It B'/'They Saw You'.”
ASK YOURSELF A QUESTION & REPLY: “Would you do it again? Yesssssssssssss!”
REAL NAME: Giuseppe Tuccillo
FROM: Napoli, Italy
BIGGEST TRACK: Tuccillo 'No Easy'
FAVOURITE FOOD: “Neapolitan pizza.”
FAVOURITE SNATCH! MOMENT: “When I met Riva and Santos in Ibiza last year in the prive' of a famous club... on Monday.”
FAVOURITE FOOTBALL TEAM: “The Napoli team of '88-'90, with Diego.”
STYLE: “House, Balearic, disco, Tarantella, tech.”
BRIEF HISTORY: “I make music and I live in Ibiza, I play with so many good artists and I'm very happy!”
KEY SNATCH! RELEASE(S): “'Square Pegs, Round Holes'.”
ASK YOURSELF A QUESTION & REPLY: “Tucci, why do you love the green colour? I don’t know why, but it makes me feel better, happier and more creative!”
REAL NAME: Piero Di Gianvito
FROM: Teramo, in the centre of Italy
BIGGEST TRACK: 'Party Non Stop' (Desolat/Defected)
FAVOURITE FOOD: “Lasagne.”
FAVOURITE SNATCH! MOMENT: “B2B with Leon during the last Snatch! Party at ADE.”
FAVOURITE FOOTBALL TEAM: “Juventus.”
STYLE: “Tech-house and sometimes disco funky rock.”
BRIEF HISTORY: “A little guy from an unknown small Italian village that with his music and DJ sets is trying to make people dance around the world!”
KEY SNATCH! RELEASE(S): “'The Leader'/'Get Lost'.”
ASK YOURSELF A QUESTION & REPLY: “Which is the DJ you would most like to play with? Ricardo Villalobos, because he's a musical genius!”
REAL NAME: Giulio Ciardiello
FROM: Bologna, Italy
BIGGEST TRACK: Astin 'Dejected (Original Mix)'
FAVOURITE FOOD: “Fillet with green pepper.”
FAVOURITE SNATCH! MOMENT: “Astin 'Dejected (Sidney Charles Remix)'.”
FAVOURITE FOOTBALL TEAM: “Napoli.”
BRIEF HISTORY: “When I was in middle school and we celebrated birthday parties, I was the only kid that instead of thinking about a first love was preferring to change the tapes in the stereo to make everyone listen to what I liked to listen and dance to... So I decided to be a DJ!”
KEY SNATCH! RELEASE(S): “'Dejected (Original + Remixes)'.”
ASK YOURSELF A QUESTION & REPLY: “Do you think it is meritorious to produce tracks with synths and vocals already used to create something new? Yes, as Picasso said, little artists copy, while great artists steal!”
REAL NAME: Ruben Mandolini
FROM: Tuscany, Italy
BIGGEST TRACK: 'Also!'
FAVOURITE FOOD: “Milk and chocolate biscuits.”
FAVOURITE SNATCH! MOMENT: “My first release on Snatch! in 2012 with 'Also!' and 'Modular Love', I've been waiting a lot for that moment!”
FAVOURITE FOOTBALL TEAM: “Associazione Calcio Milan S.p.A., or simply Milan AC.”
BRIEF HISTORY: “Growing up surrounded by Elvis, Bobby Solo and Celentano, I inherited my deep love for music. Passionate about musical instruments of all kinds, computer software and music, I made my job and my lifestyle out of my passion. I'm now resident and member of the 999 Club in Prato (Tuscany) and a full-time producer for many major record labels of the globe.”
KEY SNATCH! RELEASE(S): 'Abduction'/'Also!'/'Also! 2015 Rework'.”
ASK YOURSELF A QUESTION & REPLY: “Does your track say 'Also!' or 'Asshole!'? Answer: Well, none of the two! The sample-cut was done on 'our soul', which clearly seems to pronounce 'Also!' in Italian.
Here is unveiled a myth.”
REAL NAME: Jose Molés
FROM: Valencia, Spain
BIGGEST TRACK: Upercent 'L'Egoisme'
FAVOURITE FOOD: “Paella.”
FAVOURITE SNATCH! MOMENT: “When I met the Snatch! family in London (and my Snatch! set in the DJ Mag office!).”
FAVOURITE FOOTBALL TEAM: I don't like football, but if I have to say one... Valencia C.F.!”
STYLE: “Tech house, experimental, techno, deep.”
BRIEF HISTORY: “He has been an electronic music freak since he was nine and has experimented with lots of kinds of music, influencing him on his productions. Upercent's music is reflexive and emotional, going through the synthetic sound to the natural sound, mixing them homogeneously.”
KEY SNATCH! RELEASE(S): “'Spaceman' and the forthcoming EP.”
ASK YOURSELF A QUESTION & REPLY: “Which kind of person are you? I'm a perfectionist — sometimes too much. When I have something in my mind, I need to get it!”
REAL NAME: Domy Berardino and Mirco Sonatore
FROM: Trani, Italy
BIGGEST TRACK: “'Let the Rhythm'.”
FAVOURITE FOOD: “Tortelloni panna and pizza alla Marinara.”
FAVOURITE SNATCH! MOMENT: “When we signed our first release/contract and we read the first feedback forms to arrive!”
FAVOURITE FOOTBALL TEAM: “FC Bari.”
STYLE: “Tech house (contaminations: old school — disco).”
BRIEF HISTORY: “Starting to work together in regional radio, Italian duo Domy Berardino & Mirco Sonatore have been The Deepshakerz since 2010 and regularly serve up a perfect blend of various musical styles, ranging from vocal house and Afro-beats to '90s tech and Chicago.”
KEY SNATCH! RELEASE(S): “'Let the Rhythm feat Chube.Ka'.