Acquaviva began his career in Detroit where he performed under the name of J’acquaviva+8. He met fellow DJ Richie Hawtin at The Shelter, and the two tried unsuccessfully to catch the attention of labels like Transmat. In 1989, Acquaviva and Hawtin founded what would become one of the world’s best known and influential techno labels, Plus 8 Records. The founding of Plus 8 Records put John Acquaviva and Richie Hawtin at the vanguard of the emerging international electronic music movement and DJ culture. In May 1990, they released the new label’s first records, “Elements of Tone” and “We Shall Overcome”.
In 1993, Acquaviva and Hawtin also founded Definitive Recordings. Acquaviva was one of the first people to take notice and embrace electronic music’s digital future at the dawn of 2000 by championing Final Scratch. And following that success, Acquaviva took another step to help found and launch Beatport.com, the largest dance-music download site in the world.
Acquaviva currently runs Definitive Recordings, a label that he began in 1993 with Richie Hawtin and Karl Kowalski. After the label’s hiatus in the late 1990s, Acquaviva relaunched Definitive Recordings in 2005 with an entertainment attorney, Mark Quail. Since then, the label has carved out a name with its distinctive tech house sound and six number one tunes on Beatport.com.
Not satisfied with just his own work, Acquaviva started fostering new artists for his Definitive label, DJ and producers such as Olivier Giacomotto, Simon Doty, Damon Jee, DJ Tonio, Jan Van Lier and Dan Diamon.
Having been on the international DJ circuit since the founding of Plus 8 in 1990 and on a perpetual world tour ever since, Acquaviva achieved his commercial pinnacle in 2006 when he reached number 22 on the DJ Mag 2006 list.