by Sterling McGarvey
John Acquaviva is a man who knows his music. Having DJ'ed for over 20 years, he is certainly an individual who can work his way around a record crate. Between he and techno wizard Richie Hawtin, they make a powerful team that gets dancefloors moving like few others. Lunar had the good fortune of catching up with John after his set in early February at the Atlanta/Dekalb Center.
John has been digging in the crates since the 70s. He bought a lot of disco, but began branching out into the realms of synth tracks from artists such as Depeche Mode, Gary Numan and Kraftwerk toward the end of the decade. At that point, he says, he decided to start DJ'ing. The ultimate decision to DJ came "when I started going to clubs and seeing the music at work...I quickly felt the need to play records for people to make them dance, or sometimes even think a little or maybe to simply even escape a bit and let loose," he says.
In terms of genres he plays, John is quite fluid in track selection. He says, "I have played and mixed pretty much everything from "Dali's Car," This Mortal Coil, to Motorhead and Zodiac Mindwarp, to Vince Guaraldi and Dave Brubeck. New Wave to Rock to Goth to Hip Hop to EBM to House and Techno" but "always with a touch of Disco or Synth Pop." The man has his bases covered. In spite of what may seem to be a cohesion of styles so eclectic that it is impossible to pinpoint, John certainly is not without his favorites. He lists off Front 242's "Headhunter," Bohannon's "Let's Start the Dance," Lipps Inc.'s "Funkytown," and Mory Kante's "Yeke Yeke" among his current favorites, saying, "I have about 20 that seem to make it back."
One of the main subjects that seems to come up with John involves Canadian nightlife, especially Toronto. Controversy has befallen the Toronto scene with two incidents involving the deaths of college students at Hullaballoo parties in the city, one in 1998, the other on the same evening that John and Richie played in Atlanta. He says, "I have been both critic and supporter of Toronto. As of late I have been a booster...but more on the club side. Basically Toronto is a very sociable city and needs to understand and allow these things. The scene is safe and everyone should continue to make it safer. Raves are nothing more than the rock concerts of this generation. If anything people at these events are more peaceful that rockers ever were. The odd death can happen anywhere...but odds are likelier to have it happen to someone driving on the highway or anywhere else. Raves are also not the only place that people do drugs...but I am not hear to defend or list all the pros and cons...they are pretty much evident."
When asked about the February 3rd party, he says, "I thought it was the best party that Richie and I have done in Atlanta. We have been to bigger but it was the best sound and best decor we have seen. A pity the turnout was not as good...but we had people who knew and were into what Richie and I are about...."
In parting, John says, "Rich and I were happy to be back and play to a great crowd and promoter. If you like what you heard tell a friend...our nights together are called relief...and for those who know...thanks for all the support and see you around."
Undoubtedly, despite the low turnout of the Hawtin/Acquaviva Experience, those who know are glad to have been in the presence of John Acquaviva and his sonic journey.
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