Interview by Christine Thompson
AMFM: I remember your song. “I Like To Move It,” I loved it! And so did Disney’s Dreamworks, ’cause they used it in Madagascar.
Erick Morillo: Me too, I was exposed to a lot of cultures that maybe I wouldn’t have seen because of it.
AMFM: Tell me more about launching Subliminal Records. I have the feeling the goal here is the resurgence of House Music.
EM: I relaunched it last May, in 2016, My goal..I saw the resurgence of House Music, in England, London especially. People were getting back into the sound, and vocals. It wasn’t necessarily pop vocals, but really more singy-songy, melancholy, what I like to call sexy vocals. When I relaunched it, what I had in mind was to bring back sexy songs with the underground music of today. A lot of the producers today, they either go the whole pop route (which is what you’re hearing in the EDM world)- they hire a top line writer to come in and write a very poptastic song over what is kind of noisy music, Or what you’re hearing at the bigger underground clubs in Ibiza, DJs like Michael Corolla and Soloman, and some techno, are selling out huge clubs. It’s telling me people are ready now for the revolution of sexy vocals. That’s what subliminal is for me, and I’m trying to do what i’m hearing and feeling underground musically, which is very sexy songs.
AMFM: It’s really beautiful, I would also call vocals like that ethereal. Can you tell me more about the release “No End?”
EM: I wrote that song for a duo in the UK Eli and Fur, two female dj/producers, they’re very talented. The first release from subliminal last year was called “Thunder and Lighting” and it was with them. When we were working on that, we wrote this one as well. This is something that had been on the back burner, and when it came time to finish it, they were doing other projects.
At that point I happened to be in studio with a very talented singer named Andrew Cole, and we were talking about a song that I was going to sign to Subliminal called “Cocoon” which featured Ms. Kylee Katch. When I needed a vocalist to re-sing the song, I called her right away because I remembered her vocals from that song, and asked Andrew if she’d be up for it….but here’s the catch, I needed it to be done today.
We made it happen, and she got it, sang it, and rocked it. She made it her own. All those little ad-libs and nuances, she really took the song where it needed to go. I did want it to be exactly as it was, but I’m so glad I told her “just do whatever you feel,” and…you know the part where she’s singing “you’re already there, you’re already there?” The little parts, it’s such a pleasure working with people who get it, and both Andrew and her are super talented, I love working with talented people.
What the song is about is being present, staying in the now. There is no end, stop worrying about the future, stop worrying about what you have or don’t have, just be here now. No beginning, no end. Be positive because you are already there.
AMFM: I feel that’s the message that’s a theme in your music – the positive aspect. Which brings me to the state of the music industry today…it’s in tatters, personally. When you start seeing people like Steven Tyler at the Country Music Awards, all the genres are blending into the pop arena, all sounds the same. I’m glad you’re bringing the dance vibe back into it…so how do you discover these vocalists, what do you look for? Does it depend on the genre or the project, or does it start with the quality of their sound?
EM: What’s doing it for me is the melancholy vibe. The Bjork, Sade kind of vocal style. I call it sexy. That’s what I look for in a vocalist. But also I look for range. They’ve got to be able to go up and go down. I like to work with people who have that gift, that can hear something, and they always teach me something. I’ve been working with vocalists for a long time now, almost 26 years, and I learn something every day. Andrew Cole is another one.
AMFM: He is!
EM: He is super talented, looking forward to finishing up our projects. But yes, all my songs are about staying positive. I also don’t like vocalists who write too much on the nose – exactly what it is. I’d rather keep it vague…know what it is that you’re trying to say, but it can be interpreted many ways. “Thunder and Lightning” was supposed to be about love, “you make me feel thunder and lightning.” But it could also be about so many other things…It could be about drugs, it could be about sex, it could be about love. but it’s always about being present, and that’s the biggest message has always been about being positve.
Music is an escape. When you’re on the dance floor and I’m DJ’ing in a club, you want to be hearing about good things, not “you broke my heart,” or “My God, I have no money” These songs are created to escape the normal everyday monotony that is life. Monotony doesn’t necessarily mean negative, it just means we have jobs to do – a routine.
AMFM: Agree totally. Music is an ancient language and it’s sacred to most people.
EM: If you go and listen to the stuff I’ve been releasing, I’ve literally been putting out a record every two weeks, and I’m involved with 85% of them. I have two or three records that have been produced by other people.
For me I’m in a good place now. I was in a dark era of my life before, I was a drug addict. But now I’m at a point in my life where I’m focused. The pressures that we put on ourselves, we create all these things in our head that we think are important, but realistically just being happy and taking care of ourselves. Once you shed that, we should stop worrying about what other people think and what our ego wants, and be in a place where it’s about being and giving. If I can put that message out there in a way that people get – believe you me, if just one person gets it, that’s good enough for me.
AMFM: I think that’s fantastic, and that leads me to one of my questions which was kind of tongue in cheek, but it was what would you like to leave as a legacy. You’ve kind of answered that, so instead I’d like to phrase it as what would you like to have written on your tombstone?
EM: Lover of Life, Lover of Giving.
AMFM: Because you are a lover of giving -because I know that there are a lot of people who would really like to get into this business – what three things would you tell your young self that you didn’t know about this business?
EM: One would be that the business side of this isn’t really a headache as some people make it out to be.
Get a good lawyer, even if it means spending money that you don’t have initially, because once you learn to make the deal, it’sjust repetitive, and you keep doing that same thing. But intitally you should dot your i’s and cross your t’s, because it’s really important.
Also, don’t follow trends. Yes you can get inspired, but don’t think that because it’s the sound of today it will be the sound of next year. Do what you love. What turns you on. Hone in on that sound. Sooner or later your sound will be that sound.