Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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Riva Starr: Clubbers Delight

Riva Starr
Riva Starr Riva Starr Riva Starr Riva Starr

Riva Starr is a blog superstar, he is the inimitable Neapolitan producer and dj who likes a bit of brass âparpâ and âoompahâ in his music. If you are a clubber you will have heard his unique single âI Was Drunkâ with its slightly grotesque and freaky as f*ck video. This guy has a wild imagination and his fresh and unconventional sound which has won him many powerful fans including Annie Mack and Pete Tong.

He has now been chosen to mix and select the latest Miami mix for Defected Records crammed full of his own edits and remixes. Here he gives us a little insight into his special musical world...

How would you describe your personality especially as Riva Starr, and is it different from Stefano Miele?

I donât think theyâre very different. The Riva Starr sound has many different angles to it; Itâs funny, sometimes itâs grotesque and sometimes itâs bouncy & dark, it really reflects my personality. Itâs called Riva Starr because itâs mainly focused on house & dance music but Iâve 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 theyâre very different from each other. But I donât 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 âRiva Starrâ come from?

Well Gigi Riva was a famous Italian footballer back in the 50âs 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 thereâs was only one result that came up and it was about this girl who died in the war and she was poet, but now sheâs 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 didnât intend to become some kind of blog-superstar but itâs good to get your name and your tracks placed in charts and see that youâve had 10,000 downloads of one of your tracks. And thatâs one thing you donât 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. Itâs quick, easy, free and worldwide.

People have commented about you being the purest form of âLa Mezclaâ in your musical sound. Do you want to explain what that is?

âLa Mezclaâ means the big mix, itâs just my style. Iâve always listened to a lot of music and my style with both Madox and the Stefano Miele project has always been about mixing and making a melting pot of all my influences. House music has always been a free-style genre of music and thatâs why itâs called âhouseâ music you make it in your own bedroom in your own house, and you sample things (wherever they may come from) and you aim to make a banging tune, thatâsâ the philosophy I think.

Why do brass instruments play such a prominent part in your music?

Well I think you say that because âI Was Drunkâ clearly demonstrates the brass influences I have, itâs 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 wouldnât say itâs extremely prominent in my music itâs just a form of music that I like in the same way that I like to use a guitar for example. I think itâs really interesting to put real instruments with electronic music. It makes it really fresh sounding.

Can you explain your love of the slightly grotesque, for example the video to âI was drunkâ. Why do you like that imagery so much?

Itâs just something that stimulates my fantasies. One of my favourite movies is Tim Burtonâs âBig Fishâ and his style is quite grotesque as well. It really stimulates my fantasies and it provides an open world where anything can happen, which is a good thing. Take the video of âI Was Drunkâ â Its crazy and everything is happening in it such as mafia men snorting cocaine in the back of a car and a fat girl impaling her arse on a nail! Ha! I think itâs catchy and I love it, simple as that.

Supporters of you include Annie Mac and Pete Tong. Why do you think youâre getting so much love from Radio 1 at the moment?

Thatâs a good question. I donât know really, but Iâm really happy with it! I guess my style has a crossover quality to it, Annieâs style comes from bassline/basement sounds and thereâs till some of those sounds in my style. My style is clubby as well so I guess that caught Pete Tongâs attention, so I guess that my music does appeal to both these peopleâs styles and tastes.

Iâd been producing break-beat for about 4 or 5 years and so I have that style in my DNA and Iâve listened to loads of house music because itâs always been massive in Italy.

Letâs talk about Miami. Will it be a new experience for you or have you done it all before?

Iâve 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. Iâm really looking forward to going back this year.

Do you think youâll be able to expose Riva Starr much more in Miami this year?

I should think so because of the compilation and because of everything thatâs going on right now. Iâll also be playing gig every day for a week.

So where will you be playing in Miami?

Iâm playing at the Defected party, Iâm playing at Nikki Beach with Robby Rivera, Iâll be playing at the âAnnie Mac presentsâ party on the Friday, and ill be playing at a really cool party with Timo Mass and Michel Cleis at the Shelbourne and ill probably be doing a couple of after-parties too. It should be great and thereâll be no sleep at all for a whole week Wa-hoo!

Letâs talk about the Miami compilation. Lotâs 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 donât know, perhaps the people should explain this. I tried to do my best and tried to sum up my style over two CDâs. One is just banging house music with some chopped-up acapellaâs from old skool records as well- Iâm really feeling that at the moment. And the other one is more word-beat orientated, such as âI Was Drunkâ and my âMariaâ track from two years ago plus thereâs a load of new exclusive tracks that Defected gave me. I think itâs really cool and really dance-able and I think people will enjoy that.

Tell us about the exclusives you mentioned.

Iâve done a few for Defected and the compilation. Iâve done a remix of Chris Lakeâs âLa Trombaâ for compilation, Iâve done a remix of âUnknownâ by the Crookers & Molokoâs singer- Roisin Murphy. Iâve also done another version of âLa Mezclaâ â I know this track has been remixed about a hundred-thousand times but I really felt like doing one for me, itâs a far more stripped down version. Thereâs also a remix of Arthur Bakerâs âTear Down the wallsâ which will also be out on Strictly Rhythm and Iâve also done a remix of âHey Heyâ 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 itâs 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.

âBaltic Houseâ - Does it exist?

There is actually a âBalkan Beatsâ scene which is not very clubby and has more of an electronic sound. Itâs mid-way between electronic and pop-ish. Thereâs certainly a scene and Iâm receiving a lot of emails from DJâs saying that Iâve re-invigorated the scene with âI Was Drunkâ, but Iâm not a Balkan beat DJ Iâm a house DJ. Thereâs not a proper Balkan house scene but Iâve 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. Itâs good fun, but I couldnât stand one whole night just with Balkan beats though, it would drive me mad!

Is there anything else happening in your life right now that youâd like to tell us about?

Itâs a really busy time in my life right now. Iâm going to become a father for the first time very soon and Iâm heavily touring all around the world. Iâm pretty much booked up until the summer and I have an album coming out next week and of course the compilation is coming out in March. So right now I just have to focus and stay calm. Iâm also going to be launching my own label in March called âSnatchâ, itâs a good name for the label and of course carries a cool double-meaning to it ha!

Miami In The House 10 mixed by Riva Starr is out on March 15th.

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