Exclusive Interview: Erick Morillo – Rested & Ready
Earlier in June websites around the world reported on Erick Morillo’s health following a no-show at an event in Long Island, NY, before being escorted offstage by security at his last show in Quincy, MA. A statement on Erick’s website was posted soon after in which he stated that “the time has come to take a break and refocus my attention on my health.” With no further words since on either his Facebook or Twitter, huge speculation has mounted as to Erick’s well-being. Breaking his silence in a world exclusive interview with the South West Four crew, Erick speaks candidly about recent speculation in the media, how he has been resting and what we can expect from him this August at SW4’s 10th Anniversary…
Hi Erick – how you doing? It has been a while.
“Yeah it has been a while. I’m doing really well actually.”
That’s great to hear. Obviously we were all a little worried. There were a lot of stories and rumours circulating online and naturally we have had lots of fans asking how you are. So it prompted us to reach out to you seeing as you haven’t had any contact with your fanbase since your announcement last month. Firstly we all want to know how are you doing?
“Well, I’m getting much, much better. I’m getting rest, eating well and I’m out in Malibu, California enjoying the weather. I’m very happy. What happened was a mixture of things, to be honest with you. I went through the finality of a divorce. It was completely overwhelming. I lost a lot of weight and I was not feeling well. I was feeling ill, feeling sick and I just sort of lost my luster, if you will. I was in a really dark place emotionally and health wise and it just all took its toll. Not to mention the partying which I need to get out of my life. That’s another area which I’m working on. I lost control for a little while. I just needed to get back to me and just needed to get out of that. But I’ve gotta tell you, I’ve come on leaps and bounds even though it’s only been a few weeks. It’s funny because I work so hard. I can’t remember the last time I had two weeks off. Sometimes you just gotta shut it down and get time for yourself. Speaking for myself because I’m a workaholic I never take time off for myself. If I’m getting on a plane, I’m travelling somewhere. I’m djing on a Friday or Saturday night, getting back on the plane, then when I get home I’m in the studio. If I’m not in the studio I’m going out. And I needed to deal with some emotional stuff as well with my ex-wife. That was a really tough thing too. You know when you’re talking about divorce you’re talking about it. When you sign the paper and it’s final, it’s just like woah! you know? Well it was tough for me anyway.”
“I’ve gotta tell you, I’ve come on leaps and bounds even though it’s only been a few weeks. It’s funny because I work so hard. I can’t remember the last time I had two weeks off. Sometimes you just gotta shut it down and get time for yourself.”
Sounds like it’s been a really rough ride, but seems like you are coming through the other side and learning from those experiences.
“Absolutely. I realise now I have a very addictive personality and I can’t go half way. I’m two speeds; I’m off or I’m fully on. So I realise now that my answer is to be sober. The partying, that whole thing, it’s a thing of the past now. I am taking care of myself; mind, body and soul. I’m talking to a psychologist and getting everything ready. But I’m telling you, I’m feeling, I’d say about 50-60% and over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to stay out here and look forward to getting back to 100% and coming back stronger, bigger, better. I mean the music that I’ve got coming out in conjunction with me coming back; people better get ready ‘cause I’m coming hard! [laughs].”
We know that everyone reading this is going to be really pleased to hear that. So you said you want to come back bigger and better but we guess a little slower?
“My whole thing was that I’d always say I was gonna slow things down. I got married last May and the idea was that towards October things were going to slow down a little bit. Now things have just slowed down naturally because of everything that’s happened. So over the next 3-4 months things are very calm. I mean more calm than they have ever been in my life and I’m okay with that. The good thing about it is I’ve done it all so I don’t feel the pressure of “oh my god! What am I going to do?” It’s about picking and choosing what I want to do, when and how. I no longer have to work fifty weekends a year. Honestly, I’m looking at life so differently after this.”
“(I) look forward to getting back to 100% and coming back stronger, bigger, better. I mean the music that I’ve got coming out in conjunction with me coming back; people better get ready ‘cause I’m coming hard!”
Obviously seeing this first hand we know all about the pressure that surrounds someone in your position, but where does that come from? Does the pressure come from outside or within?
“I put it on myself. Because you know what, you got to remember I had success when I was 21 with ‘I Like To Move It’ and for me it became normal when I started touring. I just DJ-ed because I was chillin and DJ-ing for me was being on the road 52 weekends a year. So I used to do 52 weekends out of the year until I was like 30 something until Helen (Coates – Erick’s agent) started telling me, “Erick you can take the weekend off”. It was just me being used to having that lifestyle but you know what, I loved it so for me it wasn’t like ‘Oh my god’. It wasn’t pressure. It was more like I’m getting paid to do what I love and I love my life. It didn’t start taking its toll until a couple of years ago and that’s why I decided I wanted to get married and I wanted to change my life. You know I’ve never had a manager, I’ve always been self managed. I’ve had the pleasure of working with someone like Helen Coates who, god she’s been my saint. But Helen would never pressure me into anything, she was the opposite, like “stop working so much.” You know what I mean? Like “stop it!” [laughs].”
Sounds like she was a good role model!
“Oh yeah, absolutely. So I never really had that pressure from anyone else. I thought ‘wicked you’ve got the right idea’. She’s had to deal with a lot of things with me because of what I’ve been going through and she deserves a much needed vacation. A much needed, long, extended vacation [laughs]. To be honest with you, at this point I have so many people rooting for me, people that work with me, they want to see me succeed. They want to see that I am staying focussed and staying clean. To be honest with you that’s pretty much what it comes down to. And being reliable. I’d missed a couple of gigs this year because of stuff I’ve been dealing with. And if you’re missing gigs, that’s not a good look. So for me now it’s about taking care of myself and getting to a place where I’m happy and enjoying the loves of life which are my music, which are going out and playing and being a dependable, reliable DJ who fucking always rocks the house. This is what I’m known for. I also want to get to know Erick Morillo outside of music, which is something that I want to do now. I really want to focus on things outside of music because I’ve been such a workaholic. I don’t really know who I am, I don’t really know what I like and I want to do that.”
“for me now it’s about taking care of myself and getting to a place where I’m happy and enjoying the loves of life which are my music, which are going out and playing and being a dependable, reliable DJ who fucking always rocks the house.”
That’s quite a journey. So for the time being you can start to take stock of other things outside of music as well?
“Well I think for me, where I want to start, is I want to take time out for myself. Let’s say when I go to London instead of just flying in and flying out to do SW4, I’ll fly in and stay there for the week and hang out there for a week. You know what I mean? If I go to Turkey, Amsterdam hang out, even just spending a couple of days on my own, just walking around, just getting to know these cities. Because you know over the last twenty years I’ve travelled to so many places around the world, yet there are probably only a handful where I’ve left the hotel… a handful! And that’s kinda crazy considering I’ve travelled the entire globe. For me, getting to know me is going to start just by that little thing. Of just spending time in different cities just on my own and getting to know Erick. That’s gonna go a long way.”
Considering all the travelling you have done over the years, what have been the standout moments of your career?
“For me having the Union City street named after me was one of the proudest moments. This was a street where I grew up and having my Mom there and seeing her face and how proud she was of her son – to me this was one of my proudest moments. Obviously it was such an honour that’s been stowed upon me. Then just recently the Governor of Cartagena, Colombia, where I was raised, wants to give me the key to the city, so that’s something else which has come about that’s just amazing. I mean there is so many accolades and things that have happened in my life but you know, I feel in some ways I’m only just getting started. Because I’m slowing down, other things are going to get better. I definitely think production wise and making music wise because I’m not going to be on the road as much. I’m gonna be able to focus more on that and because I’m going to focus more on getting to know Erick. You’re going to have a much happier Erick and I already play music that makes people very happy, but imagine when I’m really, really happy! [laughs]”
So there’s no book in the pipeline then?
“Absolutely not. I’ve still got many chapters to write… [laughs]”
So, What does the next five year plan look like?
“I think production wise things will pick up. I’ve just got new management, Adam Factory, who manages Lady Gaga and I have records coming out with Sean Paul, Pitbull, Busta Rhymes and a list of others. All these records are done. So besides the stuff that we’re going to be releasing on Subliminal, we have some really unbelievable tracks; there’s two records with Shawnee Taylor. One called ‘Good Life’, which is like Shawnee Taylor as you’ve never heard her before. It’s not her wailing and screaming it’s very laidback. It’s kind of like what’s happening in London right now with that underground house sound. Like all these kids are trying to do what we were doing back in the late 80’s/early 90’s. All these kids are trying to do what we do best so we’ve got a bunch of records like that coming out on Subliminal. So I’m excited about that. So there’s a bunch of stuff going on but like I said really focussing on the production and less on the travelling.”
And what about Sympho Nympho?
“Well I think that with the Sympho Nympho thing we were trying to go for the whole tougher electro-y vibe and now we are focussing on the house-y-er thing. So at this point we’re just using our own names and just staying away from groups because we do so many different styles we’d end up with eighteen different groups [laughs].”
Like you said earlier, music has kind of come full circle and you guys were like the godfathers of that sound. Is it about you reclaiming it?
“Oh absolutely. I mean we just finished a record with India and we finished a record with Barbara Tucker, so it’s like we are coming and the music is nice and old skool with a little tough drum beat so it still sexy and the guys can like it. I think it’s going to be a great summer and a great fall for the music we have coming out. I think a lot of people are going to be like ‘wow’! You know it’s whats happening right now in London, in the UK and it’s going to spread out across the world. Here in the US it’s still that progressive house sound but I know people are getting tired of it and thinking ‘ok so what’s next?’ I think that you’ll find across the world it’s the same thing because it’s become so saturated and there’s so much of it. I would say 85% of it is not good, not everyone can produce records like Swedish House Mafia, not everybody could, but they all tried to and then you get so much garbage out there you’re like ‘eugh’. It destroys the sound.”
“I think it’s going to be a great summer and a great fall for the music we have coming out. I think a lot of people are going to be like ‘wow’!”
With the explosion of dance music across the globe over the last few years has that put extra pressure on DJs such as yourself, who are already house hold names worldwide, to constantly deliver?
“I mean for me I haven’t really felt that pressure, thank God. Because you know, there’s only one Erick Morillo. But I will say that I have a lot of friends who are DJs and they say that it’s really tough out there, but to be honest I’ve not really felt that pressure. I’ve had a good rapport with a lot of promoters that I work with year in, year out and pretty much the same people that I’ve worked with for a long time. They know what I do, they know what I deliver and so there really has been no pressure. The making the music part has been more of an intended goal for me because that’s where I see my future. And when I first heard about what was going on in the UK I said ‘what?’ Then I heard that Disclosure record, ‘White Noise’. My god, that record is fucking stupid and when I heard it went to number 1 I’m like ‘has that really?’ It got my juices flowing because it was like I don’t have to try and do a new sound.”
There’s so many artists now that make a big record and get fast tracked to that lime-light, but it seems like the art of djing is slowly being lost or diluted because of this.
“Yeah. The internet has changed everything and now everything happens so much faster. You could become a star in six months. It used to take ten years! You can be the hottest thing ever, even if you’re no good. Even if you’re nineteen years old and you’ve never done a gig in your life suddenly you can have this tour put together, worldwide tour with x amount of dollars. It does I think in the long run, it does diminish and hurt the art form of DJing, no ifs or buts about it. I’ve seen some people who have taken it and they’ve done their thing and there’s some people who actually put the work in and they make it work, but I’ve also seen some kids who are a joke. I think it’s a matter of musicianship I guess. People weren’t musicians anymore. Everybody was using their computer and now that’s come back. I think the art of Dj-ing will never go away. The good ones will rise to the top. They’ll show you why they should be bought but it’s going to be one of those things where it’s like a process of elimination, little by little. But as far as being a one hit wonder you’re going to be seeing a lot more of that because that’s just the world that we live in. The question is what is the one hit wonder going to do with it. A lot of the managers now, a lot of the agents, they want to make that guy. They want a kid to have a hit so that they can go out and charge. But it is what it is and it’s the game that we’re playing in and you are going to have these one hit wonders. It all depends on what they’re going to do with it. Will they make it work for them or will they disappear into the night air?”
“I think the art of Dj-ing will never go away. The good ones will rise to the top. They’ll show you why they should be bought but it’s going to be one of those things where it’s like a process of elimination, little by little. But as far as being a one hit wonder you’re going to be seeing a lot more of that because that’s just the world that we live in.”
We’re really excited about having you at SW4 again. It is ten years since you headlined our first ever show. Are you looking forward to it?
“I’m really excited. I want to let all the fans know, like I said, I’m coming back harder and stronger than ever. I’ve got some great new music for you guys too. So I’m looking forward to SW4, I know it’s going to be a great festival. Every time, even last year, with all that fucking rain, that was such a great fucking party in such a great tent and I was so happy and proud to be a part of it. I’m so looking forward to going back this year. I’m gonna hang out there for a couple of days. I’m playing this year on the Sunday but I’m gonna come in early for the Saturday too and hang out. One of the most important things I want to let all the fans know is thanks for the support and love and that I’m definitely feeling it. I’ve been on Twitter and seen people checking up on me. Just to let everybody know that I’m doing well and I’m looking forward to coming back and seeing everybody and just sharing my love of music with everyone.”
South West Four 2013 – The Tenth Anniversary takes place Bank Holiday Weekend 24th & 25th August at Clapham Common, London. Featuring Carl Cox, Armin Van Buuren, Afrojack, Laidback Luke, Loco Dice, Paul Van Dyk, Example, Knife Party, Nicky Romero, Steve Aoki, Pete Tong, Groove Armada, Erick Morillo, Eric Prydz, Boys Noize, Laurent Garnier, John Digweed, Mark Knight, Sven Vath, Solomun and many more…