COVID-19 survivor and DJ John Acquaviva joins other London DJs at benefit for mental health – St. Thomas Times-Journal

Posted: May 17, 2020 at 4:42 am

John Acquaviva knows more than most about the impact of social isolation, not just on the economy but our psyche.

The London native an international star on the electronic dance circuit was among the first people in the city to contract COVID-19 in early March and rarely has left his home since.

Saturday, Acquaviva and five of the citys most accomplished DJs are busting out and heading to an empty London Music Hall, from which theyll live-stream a show dubbed From Our Place to Yours as a benefit for the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Were just trying to get a little awareness out there for mental health, said Acquaviva, whose stay at home has been the longest hes experienced in three decades.

This pandemic has certainly been a test for all people in isolation and the weather hasnt been helping either for getting out for a walk or cycling. Its been so damn cold. Its tough for everyone. With all the support that Ive been getting from the community and what everyones doing to fight this pandemic, the least we could do is help and band together and do something.

Music DJ, producer and entrepreneur John Acquaviva has been diagnosed with COVID-19 after returning March 8 from an overseas trip.John Acquaviva

Also on the bill are Jesney, Gilles Bernard, Alex Hawken, Aaron Winter and Joel Demoor, who will mix house music, techno, tech-house and trance in a family friendly show. Winter will serve as host of the show, organized by the London Music Hall and promoter Jason Carpenter, of N.E.C. Productions.

The show can be accessed online at and starts at 7 p.m. Donations can be made online at with all proceeds going to the CMHA. More than $1,000 already has been raised toward the $5,000 goal.

Carpenter said many DJs have continued to broadcast online from their homes.

I think we have some of the best sound (DJs) around in this city, and I thought it would be cool to do something from the London Music Hall, which is probably the best live venue in the city, said Carpenter.

We wanted to do something to showcase the local talent but also to draw attention to the importance of mental health in these times with people losing their jobs and the overall stress this situation (pandemic) is causing. I know people would rather have the whole, live experience. This is almost like a Band-Aid until we can get together again and see each others faces.

Carpenter said hes thrilled Acquaviva, whos been DJing since the early 1980s, agreed to do the show.

Hell probably appeal more to the older crowd, but hes still recognized as the biggest talent to come out of London and hes definitely still relevant, said Carpenter, noting those who sign up for a free Twitch account will be able to chat and interact during the show.

DJ Bryan Jesney also is excited about the prospect of sharing the stage with Acquaviva.

Hes been pushing this music since the 1980s, so hes a pioneer in electronic dance business, said Jesney.

I think its great to be doing this, with all thats going on in the world. Its exciting to be doing something and sending a positive message out there at a benefit show and to be playing in front of John Acquaviva, who is not only a veteran of electronic dance but a survivor of the coronavirus.

In 1989, Acquaviva and fellow DJ Richie Hawtin founded Plus 8 Records, which became one of the worlds most popular and influential techno labels. They also co-founded Definitive Recordings in 1992, which has produced six No. 1 tunes on, including Gail in the O, the second longest running No. 1 song in Beatport.

When the music world went digital, Acquaviva and Hawtin again were at the forefront with the development of Final Scratch, a software program that allowed DJs to connect digital files to turntables and have instant access to thousands of songs without crates full of records.

Today, Acquaviva is crisscrossing the globe on business trips often mixed with music, still doing about 50 or 60 shows a year.

This is the longest period of time Ive spent at home and havent travelled in 30 years, said Acquaviva.

I dont need to be up on stage anymore, but I do love it and I really enjoy connecting with people. I think that now that I havent been able to do anything in a while, Ive started to think about it and miss it.

Acquaviva, who has performed in stadiums in front of tens of thousands of fans, said he will miss the live audience but Im not going to do anything that risks someone elses health, not when Ive been through it and know what this virus can do.

I know we all miss that social interaction and many of have a feeling, a sense of emptiness, and loss, and sadness. Who knows when we can come together again, physically? But, for the most part, I think a DJ should be listened to and I dont think the live component is as compelling as it is with a live band, said Acquaviva.

Up on that stage, Im not going to be able to see people dancing, but the production levels for the audience are top class with the lighting and sound. You dont have to wear a mask, just enjoy the show and leave a positive message.

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COVID-19 survivor and DJ John Acquaviva joins other London DJs at benefit for mental health - St. Thomas Times-Journal

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