Colombian-American legendary DJ & producer Erick Morillo. 2015
Colombian-American legendary DJ & producer Erick Morillo. 2015

Erick Morillo open his heart for an interview

Alexandre Trochut

Few days after he played his last-ever set at Pacha New York Colombian-American legendary DJ & Producer Erick Morillo gave a phone interview to Beatport in New York. A rare moment where the artist shared his emotions about his past last months and about his burnout, about EDM and more important about his legendary label Subliminal Records.

On January 7, Erick Morillo tweeted a photo of himself in a yoga studio, looking serene. A regular yoga routine is thus part and parcel of Erick Morillo 2.0. Over a career that’s now into its third decade, House Music legend main game has never been serenity. From his first releases in the early 90s as Reel 2 Real, the producer’s M.O. is house music that jacks and grooves, with little room for drawing breath. As a DJ, he’s in constant motion, working his filters, effects and loops like a man possessed—often for 12-plus hours. He’s the guy still standing when the lights come up, ready to tease one last tune.

The photo of Erick Morillo during his yoga session with Aimee Bello. 2015 – Credits : Erick Morillo

It wasn’t so long ago, though, that all that momentum almost derailed. Back in 2013, following a trainwreck set at the Ocean Club in Quincy, Massachusetts that lasted less than an hour, Morillo checked into LA drug and alcohol rehab center Passages. He emerged into the California sunshine four weeks later with a new outlook. That rehab stint was two years ago. As he wrote to fans on Facebook :

“ I want to use my sobriety as an example to all that you can have a life that is full of joy, love and laughter without drugs or alcohol. ” – Erick Morillo

While it’s the last hours of PACHA NYC, Erick who has been the artistic director and a resident at the club throughout its 10-year run, forging a friendship with the late promoter Rob Fernandez along the way. That made the farewell even more bittersweet. Playing for one of the closing parties of the club he state :

It was a little emotional, but it turned out to be an incredible evening, I played for ten and a half hours.” – Erick Morillo

After a childhood split between Colombia and New Jersey, New York helped make Erick Morillo a DJ.

New York and Jersey is where I saw the DJs who went on to be my mentors—Frankie Knuckles, Louie Vega, David Morales. It was my college. ” – Erick Morillo

The interview is ostensibly about Morillo’s imprint Subliminal, which re-launched after an extended hiatus last summer. The label is revisiting its deep catalog of vocal-driven house music via a series of new remixes; the first sees Doorly and Harry “Choo Choo” Romero updating “Dancing” Romero’s early 2000s team-up with Morillo and Jose Nuñez. As Morillo tells it, Subliminal’s comeback has run parallel to his own unraveling and recovery.

Erick Morillo earned his superstar DJ status playing bumping big room house, but by 2012, a new mainstage sound had muscled in. The Subliminal boss didn’t want to miss the wave.

When the whole EDM thing started taking off, little by little, the records I was playing changed, I think I was playing tracks just to get a reaction rather than because I loved the record. It was killing me inside, but I didn’t know it. I knew I wasn’t happy, but I couldn’t tell you why at the time.

You’ve got to understand, I was one of the first DJs to get private planes and all your money upfront, these things that are standard now in the industry are because of me. I came from a place where I was riding so high to a place where some people wouldn’t call me anymore. It took a lot of getting used to. ” – Erick Morillo

His burnout wasn’t a case of letting the party lifestyle get out of hand—rather, his career hit a hard wall, and drugs and alcohol were there to provide distraction.  About the excess of nightlife and DJ routine, the passion gone from his job, he settled for more fleeting highs.

As a DJ, you’re invited to after-parties, and there’s always [drugs] around, but it was really mostly when I was home and by myself.– Erick Morillo

At one point, Morillo decided to quit music altogether but the demons was still around him and this new life was not an exit :

No DJing, no producing, no thinking about any of it. When I really stopped music, it was when the shit hit the fan; I was out of control, I really thought my career was over. I thought now’s the time I get married and have children. And I did get married, and I got divorced, because I didn’t deal with the problem. ” – Erick Morillo

After he finally committed to rehab in 2013, things started to turn around. in May 2014, Erick Morillo realized that he still loved DJing, it was during a marathon set at Space Miami’s 14th anniversary. Once he’d found his feet again in the booth, he went back to the studio in 2015 to make house music from the heart ;

Not trying to be EDM or have big radio records, staying sober was easier from there. I no longer need to be the biggest DJ in the world. I don’t need to be the headliner of EDC. Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely things I want that I don’t get. But if it really bothers me that much, I call my therapist. ” – Erick Morillo

In an industry that often tiptoes around discussions of substance abuse, Morillo has made no secret of his sobriety and this new way of life he choose.

It was a really great way to put your ass on the line, if you hide it from people, then it’s just on you. Whereas if you put it out there, and if someone sees you out at a club doing something, it’s like, ‘Wait a minute, aren’t you sober?’ You’re accountable.” – Erick Morillo

Erick Morillo promises 2016 will be a big year for both Subliminal Records and his own studio output. He’s charged up with new ideas and works-in-progress. Our conversation ends, though, on the topic of “We Are Your Friends“, aka Zac Efron’s Box Office Disaster. He was not a fan, after all, as he sees it, dance music has much wilder real-life stories to tell—his own included. He pitches with a laugh, “ Hollywood, this is the movie you should’ve made !

A photo of Erick Morillo, happy and peaceful at his home few days ago. 2015 – Credits : Erick Morillo

Source : Jack Tregoning for Beaport