It looks like Jersey’s revellers are set to be spoilt for choice this month, with so many big name DJs and live acts performing over the next few weeks that you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’d fallen asleep and woken up in a colder, wetter Ibiza… almost. One of the certain highlights of the February takes place at Jersey Bowl, courtesy of those fine folks at Rocksteady. Joining a tasty-looking line up of local DJs and bands including Schema, Pete De Momme, Ben Newman, Hip Hoperation, the Lloyd Yates Band, Rick Jones and more is headliner Riva Starr. One of the most talked about DJ-producers in the business right now, the Italian house maestro comes to Jersey with the weight of two years of momentum behind him, which has seen him remix the likes of Usher and Estelle, collaborate with Fatboy Slim and Beardyman, and work his magic to crowds at such illustrious venues as Fabric and Space and festivals including Fuji Rock and Snowbombing, to name just a few.
If there’s any DJ operating right now who embodies the party spirit more than Riva Starr, he’s yet to be unearthed, and the endorsements have come thick and fast from dance music’s great and good. Fans include Annie Mac and Carl Cox, and Fatboy Slim describes him as ‘crazy sexy cool’ (grammatically imperfect but you get the idea), while Mixmag call him ‘the hottest property in house music’. If you’ve been anywhere near a dance floor in the past three years, the chances are you’ll have heard his Balkan gypsy folk-inflected ‘I Was Drunk’ or ‘Black Cat White Cat’, and anyone who’s seen him in action will know that it’s a kaleidoscope of house, funky breakbeat, folk, rock and techno all somehow mashed into one outrageously fun, floor-filling set.
We caught up with Riva, and found him to be one of the cheeriest DJs we’ve yet come across…
First of all, happy New Year – how did you celebrate, and have you made any New Year resolutions?
I played at the Warehouse Project in Manchester with Annie Mac – loads of fun! Resolution for New Year? It doesn’t matter as I wouldn’t follow them anyway!
What can the Jersey crowd expect from your set? Do you pre-plan everything or do you improvise a lot on the night?
Everything is improvised. Of course I have some favourites but I never prepare a DJ set. They should expect some funky sheeeet fo’ sure!
It’s safe to say you’re one of the biggest stars in dance music at the moment. How has life changed for you since you released your album?
Wow, ‘biggest stars’ is a big sentence man. I’m just having fun doing ma thang. I’m definitely travelling a lot more and get less time for private life, but that’s part of the business isn’t it?
And you successfully launched your own label, Snatch. How are things going with that?
Hugely well, we’ve got amazing releases from established artists and from young ones. We definitely aim to push new artists; fresh blood to inject into the dance music world!
You’ve just released a track with Fatboy Slim and Beardyman – what were they like to work with, and do you have any further collaborations lined up?
It was very natural and we had lot of fun in the studio for sure. There’s plenty more coming on but I can’t tell more right now! Shhhhhh…
You’re one of the busiest DJs around – do you relish the free time that you get, or is it more important and satisfying for you to stay busy? What do you do when you’re not on the road or in the studio?
Trying to keep a good balance between private time and work time. I played a LOT of gigs in 2010; almost 200 and I had fun but now I’m choosing when and where to play more carefully, as I want to spend more time with family and friends.
Which DJs and producers do you expect to have a big year in 2012?
Hopefully all the Snatch! picks: PIRUPA, JET PROJECT, PRINCE CLUB.
What have been the defining points in your career so far? The moments where you’ve thought ‘I’m really getting somewhere with this…’?
When I bought a car… I thought, ‘this is really getting me somewhere.’
What advice would you give to any aspiring DJs or producers that want to emulate your career?
Don’t emulate other people’s careers – just do your own thang!
What have you got lined up in the immediate future?
A WMC compilation out on Snatch! and an album in the making.
Finally, I know you’re a football fan… what are Italy’s chances in Ukraine and Poland this summer?
HUUUGE! I hope…
Riva Starr headlines Rocksteady @ Jersey Bowl, Saturday 11th February, 8.30pm-2.30am. Tickets are £12 (Early bird, limited to first 150), £16 (regular advance price), or £20 on the door, subject to availability.
As well as being a stonking great big party and maybe the only time Riva will ever play a DJ set in a Quasar room, it’s also a fundraiser for a very worthy charity, the Education Fund for Luweero Uganda (EFLO). The Jersey-based charity supports educational facilities, provides safe drinking water and feeds 300 orphans a day. To find out more, check out www.eflo.org.je