Sunclock label boss DJ Vivona has been a player on the house scene for many years. Some of his own productions for the label feature acclaimed vocalists such as Lisa Shaw and Joi Cardwell. Vivona’s profile recently soared after he remixed legendary King Street Sounds tracks from Kerri Chandler, Dennis Ferrer, Tiger Stripes, Mood II Swing and Barbara Tucker to great acclaim. As he drops his brilliant new single ‘Over Him, Under Him’ with New York’s songbird Monique Bingham, DMCWorld checks in for a natter…
A huge welcome to DMCWORLD Luca, for those of our readers that might not know you, please tell us a bit about yourself.
Thanks for inviting me! It’s a real pleasure to be here. First I want to say that I love every colour of music. My passion started when I was child and I remember both of my Grandmothers playing the piano. From then on I always loved listening to music. My mom also enjoyed playing the guitar and sang some Italian songs from artists such as Battisti, Mina, and sometimes even The Beatles. So music was always in my family. I fell in love with clubbing when I bought my first Technics console in 1992 and I started to go the clubs like Echoes in Riccione, where I saw some of the biggest DJ’s in the world. After which I started playing first events here in Sicily alongside regular international guests. I took regular trips to buy vinyl in London, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tokyo and more, where I would spend hours crate digging. I started getting into production a few years later, when I bought my first set up: a nice sequencer, MIDI controller and drum machine, Roland TR-505, Roland JX-8P, Akai S700, DAT, Cubase with an Atari computer. I also studied history of the music at the university in Palermo. My thesis was on “Porgy Bess” by George Gershwin and it was hard. I feel there is still so much to do and learn in music, I don’t see any end to it, but hopefully I can keep getting better.
So you’re from Sicily, how is the music scene over there?
Yes, I’m from Sicily, the beautiful island in the South of Italy. I’m always working on big events, especially in Catania at Afrobar working “With Love.” I have played alongside many big guests like Loco Dice, Martinez Brothers, Jamie Jones, Carl Cox and many others. I’ve always been proud of Sicily and my country has always responded in a positive way to club music and events and has always been a good base for some of the biggest name of the House music. In 2000 when I brought Satoshi Tomiie, David Morales, Frankie Knuckles and 2002 Louie Vega to Sicily for the first time. It was like a dream come true!
I’m sure that when this COVID-19 emergency ends my country will set up some big events to restart the movement and for sure my Sunclock label will be more productive. I’m looking at the future with great positivity. All of us should.
What is the best piece of new music you have heard recently?
Elderbrook – Numb (Joris Voorn Remix and Dub Mix) – Parlophone / Big Beat.
Your brilliant new release ‘Under Him, Over Him’ features the popular NY songstress Monique Bingham, how did the collaboration come about and what was she like to work with?
Monique is great to work with and I’ve always been a fan of her amazing voice and songwriting. I booked a debut mini tour for King Street’s Anniversary party back in July 2010 and brought her, Jon Cutler and Joe Berinato to Sicily to play. Since I heard Monique perform live, I’ve always wanted to make a record with her, and finally after collaborating on it for 2 years, due to various disruptions, ‘Over Him, Under Him’ has finally seen the light of day.
You’ve created lots of different mixes of the song yourself, what can we expect to hear and which mix is your personal favourite?
The original version is Afro House, then I added others: House, Classic and Deep. I have been working on this project for over a year, often going back and forth with Monique for her opinion. My fave mix is the deep version, but it was also the most difficult to make. It was hard to find the right combination between Monique’s voice and the dark sound of that version.
You’ve also been running your own Sunclock Records label for many years, how’s that going?
Yes, I’ve been running Sunclock for five years and all is going great thanks. It was extremely hard at the beginning, but finally now we’ve got the attention of many big artists that regularly support the label, especially our last few releases. We have kept our schedule tight with a high number of monthly releases. Some of our artists include Joi Cardwell, Lisa Shaw, Enoo Napa, Pablo Fierro, Abicah Soul, Sossa, Leonardo Chevy and Radyon, to name a few.
How do you see things moving musically for the label in the future?
I feel blessed to receive a lot of great demos recently from young producers. We will be putting together inspired young producers with some big names on future collaborations, trying to find that ideal situation where the 2 will really create the future of House Music. Genre wise, we are open to releasing anything from afro-deep to more dark house, really without any limits. We also have Sunclock’s “SNKE” offshoot, which embraces the more dark, deeper and techno sounds. I hope that every artist is able to find their creative corner in Sunclock.
And who have you got coming up on the label that we should be on the look out for?
We have a lot of great tracks coming up, such as Harry Soto ‘Only Now’, Muzungu ‘Free’, Newmanhere & Elias Kazais ‘Organise;, Buder Prince ‘Dancing With White Wolfs’, KAARGO & Argento Dust ‘Television’ and many others.
What part of your job do you enjoy the most, producing or Djing and why?
I love both, it depends on the moment. Sometimes I love to stay focused and closed inside my home studio, locked in my world to create some new music. I love to research and create new sounds to compose something different. It’s always a new challenge! Sometimes I love to just get lost in the crowd, thousands of people and feel their vibe. I like to make the crowd happy with my selection, this is my goal. When I play and I see the people smiling responding to my music, this is something that charges my spirit in a real positive way!
What has been your experience with the whole Coronavirus outbreak and has it effected your work in any way?
I was scheduled to participate in a Techno A&R panel at WMC, Miami in March and it would’ve been my first time on a panel for the conference, which I’ve been attending for many years. I made it to NYC and I was lucky to do a couple of gigs at TBA and The Funktion House in Brooklyn. Unfortunately WMC decided to cancel their event, so I didn’t go to Miami and instead I spent 10 more days in NYC. When I arrived back in Italy on March 26, I did my first 2 weeks of total isolation and then tested positive for COVID-19. Finally after 45 days of isolation and 2 more tests, I’m now negative. During the quarantine I was pretty busy making and releasing more tracks and remixes for different labels. Actually, all my summer gigs are now all cancelled! Now we are all waiting to see what the future will be for us in this historic moment.
What can we expect to hear from a typical DJ Vivona set?
My DJ set is an imaginative fusion between Deep, Afro, House and Tech sounds without any limit, all the way up to Electro vibes.
We come to raid your record collection, which embarrassing record do you chuck out the window before we arrive?
It’s a really funny question, I’ve actually already cleared my house of any vinyl that embarrassed me. I love all my records, I have around 25,000 pieces. From Jazz to Techno or some classics like Herbie Hancock ‘Stars In Your Eyes’ promo on Columbia, Slick ‘Space Bass’ on Fantasy or some Japanese limited records with extra versions that were never released in Europe. Also some limited edition from pop stars such as Michael Jackson, Madonna, Mariah Carey, Prince and more.
What record makes you say ‘damn, I wish I made that’?
Of course there are many tracks that I wish I had made. One of these is ‘Dub 1’ from Paranoid London Feat Paris Brightledge on Paranoid London Records. I’m crazy for this track, it’s a killer mix of acid and deep house and when the vocal starts it hits you like a wave of paradise. WOW!!!
What are your 3 current top tunes?
Oscar P Feat. Robert Owens – Thank You (Hyenah Remix) – Open Bar Music
Sophie Hunger – There Is Still Pain Left – Laolu Remix – Compost Records
Hannes Bieger, Ursula Rucker – Poem For The Planet – Awesome Soundwave
A birdy tells us that you breed cats, do tell?
Hahaha, not exactly, I’m just a cat lover and I have one called Ben. My brother Marcello breeds Bengals, they are like lovely little tigers. He’s bought cats from all over the world that have a special quality. I’m helping him out and right now I have 6 of those beauties in my house. Sometimes they drive me crazy, but they are so beautiful.
Finally, what else have you got going on that you’d like to tell us about?
It’s a busy time! My last release ‘Waiting For You’ on Crystal Waters’ IAH Records with great remixes by Alexander Technique & DJ Kue, received some big support. I also have another couple of other tracks out, a re-release of ‘Black’ on King Street Sounds with a new remix from Marco Lys. Coming up I’ve got 2 new releases on Subliminal Records, a new song with Jinadu called ‘Higher Love on Major Underground and a secret collaboration with a diva on the way.
‘Over Him, Under Him’ is out now on Sunclock Records