TERRITORIES: NORTH & SOUTH AMERICA
There really is very little in the world of music and entertainment that Erick Morillo hasn’t turned his hand to. He’s a platinum-selling artist, he’s topped the charts worldwide as the producer behind Reel 2 Real’s hit “I Like To Move It” (used in both Madagascar movies, reaching millions of viewers worldwide and covered by Will I Am in Madagascar 2) and he’s been responsible for a bewildering array of dance-floor tracks including ‘Reach’, ‘Believe’, ‘Do What You Want’ and ‘I Feel Love’ - under pseudonyms including Ministers De La Funk, The Dronez (with Harry ‘Choo Choo’ Romero and Jose Nunez) and Li’l Mo Ying Yang. He’s remixed everyone from Whitney Houston to Basement Jaxx and continues to run the legendary Subliminal Records house music empire. On his debut album he collaborated with Puff Daddy and Boy George alike. And on his second solo artist album he’s planning to set his sights even higher.
For over a decade now, Erick has remained one of the most in-demand and instantly recognizable DJs in the world. From the instant success of his weekly ‘Sessions’ parties in New York, to hosting events like the annual road-blocking Subliminal Sessions parties in Miami at Winter Music Conference, to his coveted residency at Ministry of Sound (he’s still one of the only American DJs to ever hold one) and of course his now legendary Subliminal Sessions parties at Pacha Ibiza, Morillo just doesn’t stop. His non-stop DJing schedule at one point saw him straddling the globe playing up to a whopping 30 gigs a month, particularly in the summer months where he’ll play from Rome and Mykonos to London. He’s also become a familiar television personality through his appearances on MTV and MTV Ibiza two years in a row whilst starring in a seven part series for UK TV station, Channel 4, which followed him around the world to the biggest parties and was aired to millions of viewers.
Raised in Colombia, then New Jersey, Erick was weaned on a musical diet of Latin rhythms, reggae and hip-hop. He started DJing at the age of 11 and after securing himself DJ sets at several local gigs decided to take a studio engineering course at the local Centre of Media Arts. He was soon inducted into the house fraternity through his friend Marc Anthony (the Salsa King), whilst he was working with the now legendary Louie Vega and Kenny “Dope” Gonzalez on “Ride On The Rhythm”. “Louie’s watched out for me since the beginning,” he says of the Masters At Work legend. One minor detail: in the booth at Pacha last time they played together was a certain supermodel called Naomi Campbell and beside her was one of Erick’s musical heroes, the legendary Quincy Jones. “Can you believe it? Quincy Jones came to my party,” grins Erick, still in shock a year later.
When we saw him there, Louie and I decided to play a bunch of his classics, like Michael Jackson’s Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough’. He told me he loved my bass lines,” smiles Erick. “One of the proudest days in my life.”
In 1997, after spending almost a year of meticulously planning everything from logos to packaging, Morillo took it that one step further and launched Subliminal Records with his production partners Harry Romero and Jose Nunez. Guided by Morillo’s ear and studio presence, the brand has gone on to become synonymous with a funky, soulful house sound.
In 2004 Erick released his first artist album worldwide, entitled “My World” it featured heavyweight collaborations from the likes of Puff Daddy, DJ Rap, Terra Deva and even a reunion with the Mad Stuntman.
It’s now 2014 and there is “so much music” to contend with that Subliminal is busy putting out more music than it has in many a season. After ‘Live Your Life’ and ‘Stronger’ came Erick’s collaboration with Skin and Eddie Thonieck, “If This Ain’t Love”, quickly followed by ‘Elephant’ featuring Alexandra Burke, a Top 5 smash in the UK. But as ever, Erick also has his sights set on several other key global icons for his next album. “Shakira – she’s on the wish list,” he smiles. “Lenny Kravitz – and Prince. That’s my top three.”
But before then, he has a new single called ‘Devotion’ from Harry Romero and Shawnee Taylor coming on Subliminal/Ultra in September. “I’m really happy that vocal records are back in fashion,” he smiles. “Shawnee Taylor is the voice of house music and Pete Tong already in full support mode, having aired the track on the Essential Selection in August.Erick, meanwhile, is busy enjoying what’s left of the summer in his spiritual home of Ibiza. “In Ibiza this year I decided to take a step back and I really got to see the industry changing. I did one party at Space for their 25th birthday, two sets, one outside and then I did the last 4 hours of the terrace, which brought back a bunch of memories! I loved playing and it was a great statement to make.”
2015 promises to be a big year for Erick, with Subliminal re-launching in the digital sphere with a whole raft of new ideas and remixes planned for spring/summer. “At the moment, we’re gearing up for a re-launch of the label and it will have a real underground sound so I’m really looking forward to that. Plus we’ll be doing remixes of the old catalogue and then I’ll be working on a new solo album project.” Tracks like ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ and ‘Shiny Disco Balls’ are ripe for remixing, but Erick promises that the focus will remain on the new as much as the classic catalogue. “I’m planning on releasing a couple of underground records very soon, including one called Techno Bitches,” he says.
And then of course there’s Las Vegas. Where Erick now has a monthly residency at SLS Hotel, a new luxury boutique hotel in the heart of the new American dance music scene. “For me, as far as the US is concerned, as Ibiza is the world stage for music, Vegas is the same for the US because you touch people week in and week out. It’s so important to have a presence there.” Erick is also moving to LA to breathe in the new life and opportunity that the place has to offer. “There’s a huge audience for underground music, from tech-house to techno, there really is a party every night. Yes there’s EDM being made for the younger kids but when I make music, there’s no desire to create commercial music. That’s always where I wanted to be.” Despite the bigger EDM picture, he sees similar movements in Ibiza. “Everyone I know goes to Marco Carola or DC10 or Paradise for Jamie Jones and it’s amazing how that whole thing has grown. They’ve all gravitated to underground, quality music.”
“For me, now that I’m hungry and focused, LA is the place to be, not just because the record industry is there but also the artists, so it s a great place to be and a great place to network. I want to be in the mix!”
Watch out world – Erick Morillo is back.