Let's Talk: John Acquaviva

Italian born Canadian artist John Acquaviva has played an essential role in the development of club music over the past few decades, from being part of the movement which saw Detroit techno travel through the US and into Europe, to still releasing tracks from some of dance musics biggest names in 2023.

His own Definitive imprint has brought us sounds from the likes of Ian Pooley, Lee Van Dowski, Oliver Giacomotto, and others over the years, and they’ve recently begun to reissue some of their most prominent releases from the ‘90s and early 2000’s.

We spoke to him about the newly launched reissue series, how the idea came together, his thoughts on how the industry has changed, and what else we might hear from himself and the label going forward. Get the full conversation with John Acquaviva below.

Hi John, how are things with you over in Canada at the moment?

Great question, but I tend to live all over and for the summer season I am actually spending most of my time in Ibiza. I can tell you it’s HOT, literally and metaphorically.

You recently reissued some classic Definitive tracks, what brought you and Richie to put that together?

Richie and I came together in early ’93 to make the label, but after 10 years, he took over the plus 8 helm and I spearheaded Definitive. The classics release series catalyst is myself coming together with Roland from Get Physical over the past year. I have sold the catalogue to him. It helps that he is a dear friend, so I can keep this great repertoire in the family. The two of us felt that it was time to revisit and reflect on what we did at the very beginning and the classics re-releases was the way to go. I am so excited by the response so far and can’t wait to start remixing some classics and releasing new tunes as well over the near future.

And the label has seen music from names like Ian Pooley, Lee Van Dowski, and Oliver Giacomotto over the years, how do you decide which tracks to reissue when you’ve got such a wide selection to choose from?

It started with Roland and I, but since the news has come out, many of the past artists, as well as friends and family, have all reached out with comments about their favourites and we are starting to work around what that will shape up to be next.

Who else might we see releasing on the label outside the reissues?

For this summer it’s really a focus on putting back some of our favourite classics, remixes, and then building up new releases around that.

And how about your own music on other labels?

I am excited to create again and currently, I have only intentions to work on Definitive, but you never know.

You’ve been a seminal part of club music since the very early days of techno, what’s one of your favourite memories from those early days in Canada and Detroit?

Since we are talking about Definitive, I remember Richie Hawtin, Ben Turner, and the Detroit crew throwing a 33 1/3 birthday party for me around a Definitive showcase.

And what’s surprised you most about how the industry has changed since back then?

I would never have imagined how the scene would grow to be commercial and yet underground as it is now, electronic music dominates so much. Lots of electronic music is bad, but the underground for me is vibrant and the way to make music has never been so varied and flexible.

Is there anything else you want to mention before we go?

Thanks for the interview. Look out for Roland Leesker and Philip Jung as DOORMEN ON VACATION at select sexy spots, playing disco, funk, and house. As well as check out dates at Pikes, Akasha, and Formentera this summer where I play regularly as a resident.