With nearly two decades of hits, a successful 12th season of his famed Ibiza Subliminal Sessions and seven years on the Las Vegas scene, Colombian-American DJ Erick Morillo’s impact has stood the test of time. His rise from humble upbringings in the Dominican Republic and New Jersey is evident in his early Latin- and reggae-infused beats. Although some argue the pop nature of his work may have hurt his street cred, he has achieved subsequent success in both the commercial and underground arenas. We got Morillo’s take on how his sound has evolved, the story behind his newly formed collaborative, Sympho Nympho, and just how crazy DJ life can be. Morillo plays Marquee on Oct. 13.
Early on, with Reel 2 Real, your sound was definitely more pop with “I Like To Move It,” and progressed to more underground house beats. Do you think you’ve come full circle with commercial hits such as “Elephant” and recent remixes of “Live Your Life,” Diddy’s “Hello Good Morning” and Cassie’s “King of Hearts?”
When I did “I like To Move It,” that was really an underground record, and as it became more of a pop sensation that opened the door to travel and allowed me to see Europe. That was the best thing that ever happened to me, and my career took off. When I came to England and saw their DJ culture I was looking up to David Morales and Louis Vega. They were gods in those days. I thought, “I’m a DJ, I can do this” and went from there to now. Twenty years later, my career has exploded in America. Now I do a little of everything, from underground to records for the commercial stars.
Despite the recent focus on commercial house, your live sets have stayed fairly underground. How do you maintain that, especially here in the States where people may not be quite as familiar with the deeper sounds?
For me, I’ve been doing this for such a long time that I would like to think people expect nothing from me. I can come from anywhere doing underground/tribal or pop/commercial tracks. It’s about being able to do it all.
You’re known for producing incredibly long live sets that go till 9 a.m. How do you do that?
I just enjoy the vibe, and when you commit with a crowd it’s such a good feeling. If the vibe is good, nine hours feels like two hours. What I like about Marquee is that I get to play really what I like. I play my hard beats. It’s always a late one!
You and Steve Angello have been BFF’s on Twitter lately. Any projects in the works?
We had made a record together in my house, but haven’t released it. There is nothing in the pipeline, but don’t be surprised if something happens soon.
The video for “Murder the Dance Floor” was intense. What was the inspiration?
I wanted to do something with Harry Romero and Jose Nunez, so we created Sympho Nympho. We wanted to do something gritty, a little reggae and bass driven. The vibe in the studio lent itself to it [and that resulted in the product].
Will you be focusing more on the Sympho Nympho collabs than solo projects over the next year?
Absolutely! The first one was “Murder the Dance Floor,” and the next one will be Sean Paul’s “Feeling It Tonight,” out late September.
Some are calling Sympho Nympho the next Swedish House Mafia. Do you think you guys will take their place once they disband?
No, the Swedes have their thing going on, and what we are doing is bringing a collective of producers together who have known themselves for a long time. We’re a collection of house producers who have made house music through [stylistic] changes [over the years]. There is nothing we don’t touch—from minimal to dubstep.
You told DJ Mag you have laser lights in your bedroom. What’s that about?
[Laughs] I do; I have them in all my bedrooms! When it’s tough to get into the mood, you turn them on and it puts a constellation on your ceiling. It’s pretty cool.
I heard you’re a Prince fan. Any plans to work with him?
Ahhh, I would love to! I have put my messages out and would love to, but not yet.
Rumor has it that after your last Marquee gig you stepped on a broken champagne glass, went to the hospital in Australia, where they wanted to do surgery and you delayed the procedure till you got back to New York the following day. That sounds hard-core!
Yeah, that’s definitely true! A flute of the champagne went through my sneaker while I was DJing, and EMS was pulling out while I was spinning. The show must go on!
You’ve said that Miami is your winter home. What about Vegas?
Vegas I love, but Miami is my home base. Vegas is the Ibiza of the world!