Volume 96, Issue 68
Thursday, January 30, 2003

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Renowned DJ returns to town

By Benjamin Freedman
Gazette Staff

Gazette file photo
"LIFE IS A HIGHWAY, I WANNA RIDE IT ALL NIGHT LONG!" Life is sweet for renowned London DJ John Acquaviva, who makes his return to the Forest City tonight.

The electronic music scene in London was, until very recently, in a rut. With clubs closing and few events, partiers had nowhere to turn. In a startling, long-awaited reversal, a world-class DJ, with an international reputation for powerful, maniacally-driven sets, invades Bacchus Lounge tonight.

Benson & Hedges are prepared to hawk their deliciously poisonous wares by presenting the amazing John Acquaviva.

Acquaviva grew up in London, and keeps it as his home-base. "I'm in Amsterdam one day, Barcelona for the next three, then Ibiza, then somewhere else. It gets exhausting. Just because I've seen the world doesn't mean I have to forsake my roots. I like to slow down and enjoy the anonymity that comes with this small town," says Acquaviva, who is raising his family here.

Though Acquaviva retreats to London, he hasn't played here in a couple of years. "Last time I played was with Richie [Hawtin], the lineup was around the block. London has its moments and the people from the university definitely bring a big city feel to any event."

Acquaviva's talent will certainly be an attraction. Having headlined festivals and played for tens of thousands of fans, his eclectic, tech-house flavour is a welcome treat for any venue.

He maintains, however, that a DJ's worth is truly established in a small club. "In a small club, you can click with a crowd, and once you do, they're yours."

He has been spinning since the end of disco in the late-'70s and has seen the electronic music scene grow and come full circle. Acquaviva is pleasantly reassured when he hears electronic music in beer commercials, because it's what he had always predicted.

Premonitions about the success or failure of a particular aspect of electronic music is second nature to Acquaviva. His knowledge is well-founded; he was a key catalyst in bringing rave culture to North America, co-founded the techno label +8 Records, brought the Final Scratch system into the mainstream and has produced and mixed on over 100 records.

The latest and biggest change he has seen, and been a part of, is the building of what he calls "the international culture of music."

"The common thread [is] the music because it's instrumental and usually doesn't have vocals. Everyone can relate to it. It's a loving culture because our parties don't have problems [in the] same way that hip-hop or other genres do. We're not here to fight each other. It's love, but with vision.

"I don't do it to be a star," he says, "and my prime motivation is not the fame. I'm happy with who I am and am not going to turn albums to reflect what's going on in my life. I have nothing to prove, but maybe it's just because I'm too shy.

"I play for the moment – for the crowd. I think that's the sign of a good DJ, and what makes a DJ better than a live band. I don't want people to sing along. Just close your eyes, listen and see if you like the sound," he says.

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