Interview with Riva Starr – June 2011 NEH Magazine

To follow is the interview I did with Riva Starr as part of the 2011 World DJ Festival review in the June “The Arts Issue” of NEH Magazine.

Luc Bonnici for NEH Magazine

According to internet banter, Riva Starr is one of the most highly regarded DJs among other successful DJs. His style is diverse and catchingly bouncy, as inspired by hip hop as it is by Southeastern Europe Balkan instrumentation. Many songs from his album If Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade, leave you with the feeling of being immersed into a gypsy convention in Bulgaria.

What’s the concept behind Snatch!, his record label? Why does he prefer to perform outside, and how does performing live influence his recorded material? How do blogs and social networking help with gaining recognition? We met with Stefano Miele a.k.a. Riva Starr as he stepped off the platform fresh after a dominating set on the Dance Stage Saturday night.

NEH
Is this your first trip to Korea or have you been here before?

Riva Starr
No, no, this is my first trip.

NEH
What do you think so far? Any impressions?

Riva Starr
I just got in. It’s good fun, except for the traffic. It was so hard, but we made it on time.

NEH
World DJ Festival: What do you think so far?

Riva Starr
I think it’s good. There’s a good vibe and the crowd was really up to it. It’s not easy to find a festival where they have different music on the same stage and people are still up to it.

NEH
What styles of music?

Riva Starr
Whatever. I played electro and house, I even played drum and bass.

NEH
Are you currently on tour?

Riva Starr
Yes.

NEH
Any memorable experiences from your current tour?

Riva Starr
When I can sleep for five hours, it really stands out.

NEH
Thoughts on performing indoors versus outdoors? Do you have a preference? What’s good and bad about both?

NEH
If it’s not too cold, outdoors is definitely better.

NEH
Why do you think it’s better?

Riva Starr
Probably psychologically. You can see the sky. It’s definitely better.

NEH
Who are your favorite artists right now to listen to?

Riva Starr
I’m listening back to Gotan Project at the moment. I don’t know why. All their old albums. I was a huge fan back in the day, I just found that I had all the CDs in my library.

NEH
Are there any trends in music that you’re excited about?

Riva Starr
I like the fact that a lot of people are doing more and more crossover in music. Putting different kinds and genres of music into the same mixing board. And that’s something that I really like because I come from hip hop. I don’t like the purists most of the time. They are too narrow-minded.

NEH
I read about your record label Snatch! But “snatch” is also a concept to you, right?

Riva Starr
It’s part like a concept because I used the word snatch when I was doing the bootlegs, so I was just snatching songs from others illegally and making remixes and bootlegs. But now, I really love the word– how it sounds– so it’s the name of the label in the end. I like the concept snatch even compared to the ideas. I like when people literally snatch ideas from wherever, and just make their own thing.

NEH
Does performing live influence your recorded music?

Riva Starr
When you play at festivals, you usually play a bit harder. So sometimes I do remixes thinking about the festival season. I just did a remix for Steve Angello, and it’s definitely for the festivals.

NEH
I read also that you gained a lot of exposure through the use of blogs and social networking. Posting music for free, did that help with your notoriety?

Riva Starr
In the beginning for sure. But I really believe that people must understand the difference between buying music, because you have to support your artists, and getting some gifts on the side. So there’s a balance, and I really try to let them know that they have to buy music, and then they can get something else as well on the side, but that’s not the main thing– otherwise, we couldn’t go on in life.

NEH
One more question. You make a lot of your own videos. Did you make the video for “I Was Drunk”? Was this you?

Riva Starr
The first one yes. The one with the gypsy guy.

NEH
What’s the concept behind the video?

Riva Starr
I was just needing some footage, you know, to put it on YouTube. I was smoking in my studio and was like, “OK, let’s have fun”, and I just downloaded a video from one of my favorite directors… and I just found out that I can make videos very easily, in a couple of hours.

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~ by ripcitytoseoul on June 16, 2011.

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