Out now on Cajual, Riva Starr’s new album is strictly for the dancefloor. We asked him to talk us through it.
“I made this album thinking about the club, nothing else,” says Stefano Miele when asked to introduce his new album. Definition Of Sound come via Curtis Jones’s iconic Cajual Records, a label responsible for releasing house classics from the likes of DJ Sneak, Paul Johnson, not to mention countless releases from Jones himself under his Cajmere and Green Velvet aliases.
Stefano has sequenced the album to represent a night in the club, “from slower warming up tunes all the way to the peak-time bangers”. In fact, club experiences inspired each of the tracks. “I write a lot on my laptop when I travel and then I finalise the tracks when I’m back,” he explains. “All the tracks were born after great parties in the club.”
We asked Stefano to talk us through the album, track by track…
‘In The Midnight Hour’ (featuring Dajae)
I really love this track as it’s the follow up – in terms of a collaboration with Dajae – to ‘The Loft’. I decided to go to the full analogue distortion route here. All the sounds on the album have been processed in my studio with my analogue equipment: ADT Audio console, Looptrotter distortion, Distressor, SSL G-series bus compressor, Ableton Push 2 and a bunch of synthesisers and pedals. For this track, I got my Roland SH-101 synth on for the bassline and processed it the through my Looptrotter 8/24 for a fat saturation of the bass. Drums are 808 in full effect – I really like the contrast between some gospelly kind of vocals and a tough beat underneath. It works great in the club.
‘Can You Feel Sunshine’
This is a proper tribute to the old-school, good-vibes, piano house, made up pretty much with samples and my Push 2 from Ableton. I decide to give it a live kind of edit, making the full track on the Push controller and just doing small re-tweeks on the actual sequencer. The flow of the track is pretty simple and effective and has a great impact in the club.
‘You’re Beating’ (featuring Green Velvet)
This is my second full track with Green Velvet. He exchanged the favour, as we did ‘Robots’ together on his album a couple of years ago. The idea behind the track was to get a very hypnotic and repetitive voice on a chunky, funky groove and a rolling bassline…again, a very simple edit. I’m not a big lover of crazy effects as I like to keep the flow and groove going – also because nowadays you can really re-edit the tracks according to your style with all the available equipment on the market like Rekordbox or Traktor… so I keep things simple.
I really wanted to do something with a soulful vocal and a dubby beat using the same techniques as hip-hop. So, again with my Push 2, I chopped and replayed the samples on the pads so that I could get that hip-hop feeling and I tried to keep the beat very tight, with a solid, subby bassline made this time with an 808 kick processed through my Distressor. I also played a bit with the edit here, leaving some beatless moments where the magic voice sample does the trick. Then when the beats drops in again people go mental all the time!
This is more of a simple tool, with a huge horn on the breakdown. I wanted to add some instrumental groovy flavour to the album flow and this was the right tune. The track’s rolling percussion and bassline were made with my Juno-106.
‘Count On Me’
I did this track a couple of years ago when I bought my Prophet-5. I really wanted to do something special and more ‘musical’ with it, so I played a bit with the chords and harmonies. I am very pleased with the result. I also liked to give the track a big contrast between the melody and the amazing vocal hook and the rough techno beat made up of a distorted 909 kick and some mad hats. This is my perfect end of the party tune!
‘I Can See The Light’
This is probably the first track that made it on to the tracklist, still pounding hard in the club! I coupled old-school beats with a modern twist and a stop-and-go edit where an old-school siren just pops in here and there to keep things peaky! I made the bassline with the Juno-106 and layered it on the mid frequencies with a bass sample… then I threw everything into a distortion pedal to get the synth sound.
‘I Believe In You’
‘I Believe In You’ was born because I wanted to recreate something with a ‘classic’ synth sound from the 90s, so what’s better than the classic ‘Rock Organ’ preset from the almost unknown Roland JX-1? I bought one in Rome – they go for very cheap, but there are a few classic sounds from the past that will always come in handy. So I started from the main synth hook and I made a house beat with a tough kick drum to give that 90s feeling to it. Funny enough, the bassline came out from the synth hook off cut. I put it though the Distressor with a heavy sidechain and that was the result!
‘The Loft’ (featuring dajae)
‘The Loft’ could well be the first ‘official’ single that came out from this album, and it’s the first collaboration between me and Dajae. I remember that I made this tune with this early Chicago vibe and Green Velvet sent it to Dajae, who was very inspired to write about house parties. And she’s right: “There’s no party, like a house party!” I made the bass again with some 808 kick drum samples and the groove was straight-up 909 kick drum and old-school loops to give that credible late-80s house feel to it.
‘Acid Train’ (featuring DJ Pierre)
It was such a pleasure to collaborate with the acid house legend DJ Pierre on this track. It was all made the original way, and that was the concept behind this tune. The Roland 707 and 303 were synced together and a deep voice added. Not many people know that Pierre actually made that voice! I had to run the 303 through my UAD Vertigo plugin to give it that extra roughness, and also the drums were all processed through different pedals and distortion units.
‘After Dark (Is When We Move)’ (featuring Gene Farris)
This raw techno number is all about them cheeky vocals from sir Gene and that nasty bassline made with the same concept of the first tune of the album. The SH-101 bassline was distorted through the D16 Decimort this time. Also, all the hats were put through Decimort and with a light chorus effect on top. I remember that I processed the kick drum through the Distressor, with a very extreme setting.
Riva Starr’s Definition Of Sound is out now on Cajual. Find him on Facebook, Twitter and SoundCloud.