|Interview: Riva Starr for Ministry of Sound April 2010|
|22 April 2010|
Riva Starr will be playing in The Box for Defected In The House Saturday 24th April - buy tickets now!
How would you describe your personality especially as Riva Starr, and is it different from Stefano Miele?
I don’t think they’re very different. The Riva Starr sound has many different angles to it; It’s funny, sometimes it’s grotesque and sometimes it’s bouncy & dark, it really reflects my personality. It’s called Riva Starr because it’s mainly focused on house & dance music but I’ve also got a Stefano Miele project that focuses on World Beat crossed over with Dub & Hip-hop. I just change names when it comes to the style of the music because they’re very different from each other. But I don’t think I can fake my personality when it comes to music because I think the music you play in the club is a true reflection of who you are.
Where does the name ‘Riva Starr’ come from?
Well Gigi Riva was a famous Italian footballer back in the 50’s and he was a star, and I was trying to come up with a name that would be found easily on google and one which would be available on the likes of MySpace and Twitter etc… When I googled Riva Starr there’s was only one result that came up and it was about this girl who died in the war and she was poet, but now she’s lost in the thousands of results that come up now haha! Shame on me!
One of your philosophies when you were establishing yourself as an artist was to get your music on as many different blogs as you could and send your mixes to as many different people as possible. Is this true?
Yes. Right now I think that blogs and the web in general are the most democratic form of media promotion. I was running a break-beat project 6 months before I started the Riva Starr and when I came to start Riva Starr I thought the quickest way to get it up and running was to spread my sound all over. I am very prolific and I do a lot of tracks. I started to get in touch with the guys who ran the blogs and started building up relationships with them by sending in new mixes and it soon became a word-of-mouth thing.
There are labels that spend thousands & thousands of pounds trying to do that. I did it very easily. I didn’t intend to become some kind of blog-superstar but it’s good to get your name and your tracks placed in charts and see that you’ve had 10,000 downloads of one of your tracks. And that’s one thing you don’t get if you just have your music on Beatport.
So would you say that the Internet has been the single-most important thing in your success to date?
As a means of starting it up it has been fundamental. It’s quick, easy, free and worldwide.
Why do brass instruments play such a prominent part in your music?
Well I think you say that because ‘I Was Drunk’ clearly demonstrates the brass influences I have, it’s spot on in that sense. I consider brass as just another instrument and it comes from my culture as well because brass instruments are used in traditional Italian music. I wouldn’t say it’s extremely prominent in my music it’s just a form of music that I like in the same way that I like to use a guitar for example. I think it’s really interesting to put real instruments with electronic music. It makes it really fresh sounding.
Supporters of you include Annie Mac and Pete Tong. Why do you think you’re getting so much love from Radio 1 at the moment?
That’s a good question. I don’t know really, but I’m really happy with it! I guess my style has a crossover quality to it, Annie’s style comes from bassline/basement sounds and there’s till some of those sounds in my style. My style is clubby as well so I guess that caught Pete Tong’s attention, so I guess that my music does appeal to both these people’s styles and tastes.
I’d been producing break-beat for about 4 or 5 years and so I have that style in my DNA and I’ve listened to loads of house music because it’s always been massive in Italy.
Let’s talk about Miami. Will it be a new experience for you or have you done it all before?
I’ve only been there once, and that was two years ago. It was when I started the Riva Starr project and in fact I was still playing as Madox at some of the parties. I did my first gig over there with DirtyBird. It was downtown at 6am - we started playing to about 20 people and by the end of the gig there was about a 1000 people there. It was a really good experience and it was my first Miami gig. I’m really looking forward to going back this year.
Let’s talk about the Miami compilation. Lot’s of people do Miami mixes and a lot of them do come out at this time. What makes your mix stand out from the rest?
I don’t know, perhaps the people should explain this. I tried to do my best and tried to sum up my style over two CD’s. One is just banging house music with some chopped-up acapella’s from old skool records as well- I’m really feeling that at the moment. And the other one is more word-beat orientated, such as ‘I Was Drunk’ and my ‘Maria’ track from two years ago plus there’s a load of new exclusive tracks that Defected gave me. I think it’s really cool and really dance-able and I think people will enjoy that.
Tell us about the exclusives you mentioned.
I’ve done a few for Defected and the compilation. I’ve done a remix of Chris Lake’s ‘La Tromba’ for compilation, I’ve done a remix of ‘Unknown’ by the Crookers & Moloko’s singer- Roisin Murphy. I’ve also done another version of ‘La Mezcla’ – I know this track has been remixed about a hundred-thousand times but I really felt like doing one for me, it’s a far more stripped down version. There’s also a remix of Arthur Baker’s ‘Tear Down the walls’ which will also be out on Strictly Rhythm and I’ve also done a remix of ‘Hey Hey’ by Dennis Ferrer- a paradise garage remix!
What did you do with Hey Hey?
I just thought it was a good idea to add some more melodies to it, the original version is really good but it’s also quite minimal and dry and so I had the idea of putting more melodies on it, in order to make it recall the old paradise garage style.
‘Baltic House’ - Does it exist?
There is actually a ‘Balkan Beats’ scene which is not very clubby and has more of an electronic sound. It’s mid-way between electronic and pop-ish. There’s certainly a scene and I’m receiving a lot of emails from DJ’s saying that I’ve re-invigorated the scene with ‘I Was Drunk’, but I’m not a Balkan beat DJ I’m a house DJ. There’s not a proper Balkan house scene but I’ve been to a good few Balkan beat parties in Europe and Australia, and its all about playing everything from Balkan beat, to house, to Balkan-ska and whatever has brass and gypsy influences in it. It’s good fun, but I couldn’t stand one whole night just with Balkan beats though, it would drive me mad!
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