Ibiza Voice Podcast 574 :: Erick Morillo
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Erick Morillo is a giant of the dance music scene. The Colombian-American was a superstar way before the current crop of EDM big-wigs and continues to be a headline draw around the world more than 24 years after first starting out.
His own brand of house is chunky, steamy, sweaty and sexy and has made his Subliminal Sessions label a real bastion for big room sounds. He’s been behind global chart hits, for example under the Reel 2 Real alias, back on Strictly Rhythm in 1993, and has also produced #1 Billboard Hot Dance Music hits, won plenty of awards, hosted his own club nights round the world and has just launched a new sub label as well as continuing to produce.
A few years ago, he admitted to Pete Tong at IMS that he’d had serious addiction problems and took a short time out to recoup and recover. Now, back to his best, we ask him about that dark time, as well as his views on how to stay fit and healthy during long periods on the road.
Ibiza Voice - You’ve spoken very openly about addiction issues before. How is your health?
I am doing great, thank you for asking. Over the last few years, I have really gotten into physical fitness as well as meditation. Both have helped me out a great deal and I feel mentally and physically great.
Have you changed your lifestyle since then? Do you follow a routine to keep you healthy of body and mind now?
I certainly made some adjustments. Physically, I have two great trainers that I work out with and try to stay in shape. I practice yoga, meditate and try as best I can to keep a healthy diet with the help of my nutritionist. I also have a great therapist who I turn to whenever I need to speak to someone.
Is this one of the most pressing issues for globetrotting DJs? Can anything be done to get people to talk about, to educate managers to look out for their acts and so on?
The job of an international DJ is very demanding and often times it takes a heavy toll on the physical and mental wellbeing. As a successful DJ, you travel to all parts of the world, perform in front of thousands of adoring fans and then within a few hours you’re back at the hotel in a room by yourself. It can be very lonesome, and these types of highs and lows can create major anxiety which sometimes leads to substance abuse.
Over the last few years, the industry as a whole has started to address these issues and artists are now aware that they are not alone if they are struggling with mental health and that indeed there are people and organisations that can provided the needed assistance. The topic of substance abuse and mental health is now in the spotlight and I hope people continue to talk about these issues and find ways to help artists that are in search of help. I personally think it is a great idea for some of the older artists to share their stories and inform the younger artists about some of the dangers and pitfalls of the DJ world. Hopefully the younger artists decide to make wise decisions based on the experiences of others.
What gets you out of bed in the morning? Why do you keep on going despite having achieved so much?
I truly love what I do. I’ve been on the road performing for over 24 years. It is simply what I enjoy doing and it is not a job for me. I have been blessed to do something that I am passionate about and I get to make a decent living out of what I love doing. There is no greater feeling than interacting with a crowd and feeding off their energy and vice versa. I love making people dance and I appreciate when the crowd gives it their all and together we both go on a great musical journey.
You’ve just started another Ibiza season - what keeps you going back to the island? What makes is special amongst all the places you have played?
There is only one Ibiza. There have been many comparisons but there is one Ibiza. It is an island that has been part of my life for over twenty years. It is truly is my home away from home during the summer. There is so much to love about the island – the beaches, weather, music and the people. It’s simply a uniquely magical place and everyone who visits falls in love with the energy and the island vibe.
What’s the best thing you’ve been able to buy or do as a result of being a superstar DJ?
When I first ventured into the world of music, like any artist, I would dream of becoming a successful and famous DJ / producer. In my dreams, I would always imagine purchasing a home for my mother as soon as I made it. Fortunately for me, I was blessed to make my dream come true early in my career. It was one of the best days of my life, telling my mom that the house is hers and she no longer had to worry about paying rent or a mortgage. By far the best buy in my entire career.
How did you record the mix and what equipment did you use?
I use the DJ 2000 Nexus and the CDJ2000 Nexus2. Afterwards I sent the mix to my radio producer for her to add the voice ID’s.
Was there an aim for it from the start, did you have a certain thing to say, certain records to play, a sound to represent?
All of the tracks on the mix are tracks that I currently enjoy playing in my sets. The mix as a whole is a representation of what I enjoy listening and playing at the moment. There was no planning as I usually like to start with a track and take from there.
Where do you get your music from and how long do you spend looking for it each week?
I have a few close friends that we share music. We all sort of have the same taste in music and thus it makes it easy to get the music we’re looking for. I set aside several hours each week to listen to new promos and demos. On night of a show though, I don’t prepare for my set. I have an idea of some of the songs I would like to play and then I just start playing and hope that at the end of the night, it was a good set that was enjoyed by all.
What else have you got coming up/are you looking forward to
I’m looking forward to playing at Pacha on Friday August 3rd. It is always extra special for me to play at Pacha. I had so many great memories at Pacha and it is always a bit nostalgic each time I’m in the club. August 3rd is going to be special. I’m also traveling quite a bit doing shows all over Europe, Asia and the United States.
Musically, I just released a track titled 'Cocoon' which is a collaboration with Andrew Cole feat. Kylee Katch. It’s a very sexy vocals track and there is a Cocoon remix scheduled for release July 23rd which I did with Harry Romero. The remix is a bit more underground and dirty for the late-night crowd. I also have a track called ‘Cartagena’ scheduled for release on SONDOS Records August 27th. It’s a tech-house track that I love playing late in my sets. Lastly, I’m also working on a track called ‘Pulling Me Down’. It is a collaboration with Junolac and Chris Childs featuring Ora Solar.
On the label side, I just re-launched SUBUSA which is another of the Subliminal sub-labels. SUBUSA will focus on the commercial releases, SONDOS Records on the tribal, Subliminal Soul on deep house and Subliminal on the house and tech-house genres. There is a ton of music in the pipeline from all of the labels that I am looking forward to sharing with everyone.