Erick Morillo has remixed everyone from Whitney Houston to the Basement Jaxx, from the Sneaker Pimps to Macy Gray. He runs the legendary Subliminal Records empire and has collaborated with the likes of the Audio Bullys. He’s a platinum selling artist and has topped the charts worldwide as the producer behind Reel 2 Reel’s hit ‘I Like To Move It.’
But his biggest achievement to date?
“I’d have to say it was when I bought my Mum a house,” grins the New York born producer. “I’d put her through a lot of shit when I was younger, and like every kid I said ‘when I grow up I’ll buy you a house.’ To be in a position, so early in my career, where I could actually do that was the most fulfilling moment in my career so far.”
As a producer Morillo has been responsible for a bewildering array of tracks, under pseudonyms that include Ministers De la Funk, The Dronez (a project alongside Harry ‘Choo Choo’ Romero and Jose Nunez, which won the trio the remixer of the year award in 2001), RAW, Smooth Touch, RBM, Deep Soul, Club Ultimate and Li’l Mo Ying Yang amongst others. As a DJ, he’s played the world over and from his legendary Subliminal Session parties at Pacha in Ibiza, to his roadblock events at the Crobar in Miami, Erick approaches everything he does with an unrivaled work hard/play hard mentality.
“I’m a workaholic,” he admits. “Sometimes I’ll be in the studio 24/7 – but when it comes to enjoying myself I can keep up with the best of them. At Radio 1’s party in Miami this year I was standing on top of the bar, two Tequila bottles in my hands just pouring it into clubbers’ mouths. That was a good night!”
Raised in Colombia, then New Jersey, Erick was weaned on a musical diet of Latin rhythms, reggae, and hip hop. Having started DJing at the age of 11 and securing himself several gigs playing friends and families’ weddings, he decided to take a studio engineering course at the local Center of Media Arts.
He was soon inducted into the house fraternity through his friend Marc Anthony (the Salsa King), while he was working with Louie Vega and Kenny “Dope” Gonzalez on “Ride On The Rhythm”. “Louie’s kinda watched out for me since the beginning,” smiles Erick. “He never really told me how I should do things, he’s just always been supportive.”
After somehow scraping together enough equipment for a studio, the young Morillo tentatively approached labels such as Nervous and Strictly Rhythm with his fledgling productions. He was rewarded with little more than a string of rejections. It was only when he presented Strictly with a track called “The New Anthem”, under the moniker Reel 2 Reel, that they began to really sit up and take notice. After signing ‘The New Anthem’ Erick quickly followed it with the classic “I Like To Move It,” a track that set up camp in the pop charts throughout the world, going platinum in Holland and gold in the UK, Germany, France, Belgium in Australia – giving the young producer his first taste of touring in Europe.
Flush with success, but determined to keep his head and music firmly in the underground (“It’s where I come from, where I always go back to”) he notched up a pair of Billboard #1’s with Smooth Touch’s “In My House” and his sublime collaboration with buddy Louie Vega, Li’l Mo’ Ying Yang’s “Reach.”
In 1997 Morillo launched Subliminal Records with his production partners Harry Romero and Jose Nunez, after spending almost a year meticulously planning everything from logos to packaging, making sure that even the smallest details of the look, feel, and function of the label were to his satisfaction. Guided by Morillo’s ear and studio presence, and bolstered by his equally able teammates, the Subliminal brand has gone on to become synonymous with a funky, soulful sound that’s as underground as it is party-ready. “I wanted to create a label that was known for quality music,” explains Erick. “I wanted people to be able to go into a store, buy a Subliminal track and know that they’ve got a quality record.”
Seven years later and Subliminal has over 100 releases under its belt, ranging from full-on radio smashes like Who Da Funk’s “Shiny Disco Balls” to underground classics like Ministers de la Funk “Believe”. It was voted Best Label at the Muzik Awards in both 1999 and 2000, that’s not to mention the indispensable Subliminal Sessions compilation series, which showcase the label’s developing artists and sound, or the label’s imprints Sondos, Subliminal Soul, Bambossa and SUBUSA, which cater for everything from tough, tribal beats to rock-house cocktails.
Naturally enough, the high profile DJ gigs have followed closely on the tails of Morillo’s studio success. He’s currently one of the most in-demand and instantly recognisable DJs in the world. Spurred on by the climb-the-walls success of his weekly ‘Sessions’ parties in New York, he took the Subliminal vibe on the road, hosting events like the annual Crobar party in Miami for the WMC, his coveted residency at Ministry of Sound (he’s one of few American DJs to ever hold one), or his legendary Subliminal Sessions parties at Pacha in Ibiza (named “Best International Club” of 2002 and “Best Ibiza Party” of 2001 by Muzik magazine), where Morillo himself was crowned “Best International DJ” in 2002 and “Best House DJ” in 1999 and 2001 at the Pacha Ibiza awards. His prolific DJing schedule has seen him play up to a whopping 30 gigs a month, crisscrossing the globe taking in Greece, Malta, Amsterdam, London, Madrid, Belfast, Russia and beyond. But to this day it’s still a set on the White Isle in 2001 that stands out in his memory. “I was playing the closing party of the Space Terrace straight after September 11th,” he recollects. “I ended the night with Frank Sinatra’s ‘New York, New York’. People were crying and waving American flags, everybody was singing. It’s my most emotional memory as a DJ.”
Already a familiar television personality through his appearances on MTV UK, and as the host of MTV IBIZA two years in a row, Erick also presented the UK’s 2001 Dancestar Awards and starred in a seven part Channel 4 series, which followed him around the world to the biggest parties and aired to millions of viewers. Erick has also just completed his highly-anticipated artist album entitled ‘My World’, which features heavyweight collaborations from the likes Puff Daddy, DJ Rap, Audio Bullys, Terra Deva and even a reunion with the Mad Stuntman.
“I’ve been making this album for about two years,” he explains. “I’m really happy with the results. I’m fed up with all these faceless producers in dance music. It’s time we took it to another level and gave people someone to identify with. I want to get everybody back into dance not just the hardcore clubbers. This music should be as big as hip hop.” And from the jump-up, grime-funk of the album’s first single ‘Break Down The Doors’ featuring the Audio Bullys, to Puff Daddy’s sawn-off, double barrel growl on ‘My World,’ it’s clear that this album is house music, but with an eye on the bigger picture. “I didn’t want to make an underground DJ album,” says Erick. “That’s not what the industry needs. I want to make an album that can be credible, dirty and tough but with proper songs.”
“Puffy and I did three tracks,” he continues. “He came to Ibiza about three years ago and didn’t really know much about the house scene. He’d been going to all these trance clubs but didn’t realise that something more funky could get the same type of reaction. I was playing the closing set on the Space Terrace, he came along and loved it, so we started hanging out. Puffy’s a real hard worker – we’d go out to a party, then an after party, then an afterhours party, then we’d go into the studio to work. I swear that guy never sleeps.”
Erick is also keen to bring a live element to his performances and has plans for a tour of the album featuring live instruments, vocalists, DJs and if you’re lucky the big man himself on drums. “I’m going to be giving a taster of the new show at Homelands, Global Gathering and Creamfields,” he explains.
“I really enjoyed doing some live stuff in Miami. Puffy came down to our party at the Crobar and we did a one hour set together, me DJing and him performing live, rapping and freestyling. The place went absolutely nuts – we had thousands of clubbers eating out of our hands. The after party was what dreams are made of – Miami was great.”
Since Miami, Erick has had many travels and adventures, as well as successes. The success of his debut artist album, “My World” and the first single from the album “Break Down The Doors” featuring the Audio Bullys. Êwith his debut album and single came his debut music video, featuring himself, the Audio Bullys, and cameo by supermodel Naomi Campbell. The album was released in the UK June 28th and in subsequent territories the following months: Australia, Benelux, Italy, Russia, and in January 2005, United States.
Summer 2004 saw Erick in Ibiza, as weekly resident at club Pacha. It was a record-breaking summer, with special guests and DJs the likes of Tommy Lee, P. Diddy, DJ Rap, Gadjo, Tom Novy, Benny Benassi, and the Subliminal crew. Erick made his appearances at the festivals — Creamfields (Liverpool and Andalucia), Homelands, Mystery Land. It was also a summer of awards: Subliminal Sessions @ Pacha won “Best Night” and Erick received the “Best DJ” in Mixmag’s Annual Ibiza Awards.
This self-proclaimed workaholic has several projects coming up. His Subliminal Winter Sessions Vol. 2 is being released the end of October on Subliminal. In January, it will be released alongside “My World.” January also sees the release of the second single from the album, “What Do You Want” feat. Terra Deva. And of course, many tour dates and other projects always popping up….
Saturday, May 2nd @ Avalon (los angeles)
Made in Brasil
LIFE IS A LOOP
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