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InterviewErick Morillo: “I Carry USB Sticks Rather Than Bags of Vinyl Now”

Words by Nathan Irvine

The legendary house DJ and brains behind the timeless "I Like To Move It" talks game-changing tech, dream collaborations and wedding dance floor fillers.

Legendary house DJ, Erick Morillo has been at the top of his game for decades. He’s seen pretenders to his throne come and go. So how does he stay relevant in an industry that has become saturated with wannabes?

We sat down with Morillo ahead of his set at Q43’s 5th birthday party on February 28, for an exclusive chat about the changes he’s seen in the industry.

Erick Morillo

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How has the DJ scene changed since you started out?

When I first started DJing we all played vinyl and now we use USBs and or use laptops. Also DJs used to actually mix music whereas nowadays that is optional.

The technology has changed significantly over the years. But the core is still the same – people still go out and listen to DJs to escape their problems and have an amazing time.

Specifically, how has tech changed the game?

Technology has, in many ways, made it easier for people to venture into the field of music production and DJing. From a DJ perspective, I am grateful for the innovations that have transpired over the course of the last 15 years.

For example, I carry several USB sticks as opposed to five heavy bags of vinyl records, which is a massive improvement and life changer.

In the early 90s, we traveled all over the world carrying large bags of vinyl records each weighing 50-60 pounds. At times the airlines would misplace one of the bags. The pain and frustration of this was unbearable.

The advent of the CDJ (device that plays CDs and digital music) has allowed artists to be more creative. We’re now able to remix records live during a performance by looping one of the CDJs, mix in a second track and perhaps play acapella on the third CDJ.

Additionally, the ability to link the CDJs together via a hub was revolutionary when Pioneer introduced the concept. It allows the artist to view the USB stick content on each of the CDJs from one location.

Erick Morillo

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@erickmorillo Spinning the tunes

So tech advances have changed up the entire music industry ?

Yeah, music production tech has advanced over the years, too. I personally love that I no longer have to use a reel-to-reel machine when creating music. In the early days, it could take days to record a simple piece of music, but today it takes seconds with a Mac or app such as Logic.

Producers from the early 90s laugh at how simple technology has made certain tasks. I welcome the new tech as it has made my life easier. There are those who would argue it technology has become too easy for anyone who wants to produce music or become a DJ. I tend to believe you still need to have the skills and talent to produce quality music and become a respected DJ.

Which musical trend/genre has surprised you the most and why?

I’m pleasantly surprised at how the underground sound has moved to the forefront right now, and how well it’s perceived throughout the world. It’s also interesting to note how people want to hear more of old house music sounds these days.

What’s the worst part of your line of work?

Traveling. The hours of travel, jet lag and lack of sleep can be detrimental to some artists. I’ve been on the road practically every weekend for the last 25 years and although it has been many years, I still have got used to traveling back and forth between the different countries and time zones.

Which current artist would you most like to work with today?

I’m a fan of Lenny Kravitz. I admire how he keeps himself relevant after so many years in the business and respect how he uses many different musical elements in his music. From R&B, funk, jazz, reggae and hard rock.

It would be great for him to add a bit of house music, too!

What’s the one piece of advice that you always offer to those looking to emulate your career?

Never give up on your passion and create a sound and style that is unique to you. They should learn from the artist they admire but to find their own style to standout from the rest.

Finally, if you were working a wedding, what’s the one track you’d drop to guarantee the dancefloor would fill up?

If I was playing a wedding and needed to get the crowd up and dancing, I’d definitely use a track titled¬†‘I Like To Move It’!

 

Catch Erick Morillo playing an exclusive set at Q43 on Thursday, February 28 

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