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.
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.
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,” he says, still in shock. “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 funk-fuelled, soulful house sound. And in 2004 Erick released his first artist album worldwide, entitled “My World” it featured heavyweight collaborations from the likes of Puff Daddy, DJ Rap, Boy George and even a reunion with the Mad Stuntman. The lead single ‘Break Down The Doors’ featured The Audio Bullys, and in the years that followed, further singles and club tracks followed. 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 UK smash. The global touring continued, as did his dominance at clubs from Pacha Ibiza and Ministry Of Sound in London.
After a well-documented break from the scene, Morillo returned to his spiritual home of Ibiza in 2014. But unlike previous seasons, he only took on one show, at Space: “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.” Fast-forward to the summer of 2015 and things are right where he wants them to be, with Subliminal re-launching in the digital sphere with a whole raft of new ideas and remixes planned for the start of 2016. 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. “It’s going to be great music from house to techno – a little bit of everything,” he says. “We’re going to be releasing lots of records from different people.”
With a super-successful summer spent in and out of Space, Ibiza with Luciano’s Cadenza party, as well as key shows from Marquee in New York and LIV in Miami to Avalon in LA and back, Erick is firing on all cylinders. He has several original productions and key collaborations that have now dropped, including ‘Something For Carl Cox’, a fun techno jam that Erick made for, well, guess who, a searing deep house club track called ‘The Restorer’ and another with Harry Romero called ‘Going To LA’. And he also has a solo double-header dropping on Subliminal Records in November 2015. “I’m releasing a two part EP titled Limitless which will consist of a track titled ‘I Want You’ followed by ‘Trapped’ – both great records,” he nods. And the label is also gearing up for some major moves at the start of 2016. A-List artists such as Kolsch and The Martinez Brothers will be remixing the very best of the classic catalogue. Erick, meanwhile, is happy to be living in LA. “LA is the place to be, not just because the record industry is there but also the artists. It’s a great place to be and a great place to network. I want to be in the mix!”
ERIC MORILLO SESSION @ MIXMAG LAB