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Issue 1089

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Riva Starr: Clubbers Delight

Riva Starr @bluesandsoul.com
Riva Starr @bluesandsoul.com Riva Starr @bluesandsoul.com Riva Starr @bluesandsoul.com Riva Starr @bluesandsoul.com

Riva Starr is a blog superstar, he is the inimitable Neapolitan producer and dj who likes a bit of brass ‘parp’ and ‘oompah’ in his music. If you are a clubber you will have heard his unique single ‘I Was Drunk’ 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 don̢۪t think they̢۪re very different. The Riva Starr sound has many different angles to it; It̢۪s funny, sometimes it̢۪s grotesque and sometimes it̢۪s bouncy & dark, it really reflects my personality. It̢۪s called Riva Starr because it̢۪s mainly focused on house & dance music but I̢۪ve 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 they̢۪re very different from each other. But I don̢۪t 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 etcâ€Â¦ 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 didn̢۪t intend to become some kind of blog-superstar but it̢۪s good to get your name and your tracks placed in charts and see that you̢۪ve had 10,000 downloads of one of your tracks. And that̢۪s one thing you don̢۪t 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. It̢۪s quick, easy, free and worldwide.

People have commented about you being the purest form of ‘La Mezcla’ in your musical sound. Do you want to explain what that is?

‘La Mezcla’ means the big mix, it’s just my style. I’ve 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 that’s why it’s called ‘house’ 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, that’s’ the philosophy I think.

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.

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

It’s just something that stimulates my fantasies. One of my favourite movies is Tim Burton’s ‘Big Fish’ 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 ‘I Was Drunk’ – 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 it’s catchy and I love it, simple as that.

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

That̢۪s a good question. I don̢۪t know really, but I̢۪m really happy with it! I guess my style has a crossover quality to it, Annie̢۪s style comes from bassline/basement sounds and there̢۪s till some of those sounds in my style. My style is clubby as well so I guess that caught Pete Tong̢۪s attention, so I guess that my music does appeal to both these people̢۪s styles and tastes.

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

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

I̢۪ve 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. I̢۪m really looking forward to going back this year.

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

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

So where will you be playing in Miami?

I’m playing at the Defected party, I’m playing at Nikki Beach with Robby Rivera, I’ll be playing at the ‘Annie Mac presents’ 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 there’ll be no sleep at all for a whole week Wa-hoo!

Let̢۪s talk about the Miami compilation. Lot̢۪s 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 it̢۪s 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!

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

It’s a really busy time in my life right now. I’m going to become a father for the first time very soon and I’m heavily touring all around the world. I’m 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. I’m also going to be launching my own label in March called ‘Snatch’, it’s 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.
Words TONI TAMBOURINE

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