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Award winning producer and co owner of one of the most successful dance labels to come out of North America, Def Mix, David Morales remains one of the most influential producers in the world. Home to some of electronic music’s best known and most influential artists such as Frankie Knuckles, Satoshi Tomiie and of course David himself, Def Mix has emerged a leading producer of quality house music. Crossing over into the mainstream with remixes for artists such as Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Eric Clapton and the Spice Girls as well as fellow electronic artists like Basement Jaxx, Photek, Satoshi Tomiie and Sasha, David’s unique talents remain in demand to this day with his releases receiving widespread acclaim not to mention the 3 consecutive Grammy Award nominations. Higher-Frequency caught up with David during his Japanese tour to promote his first album in 10 years, ‘2 Worlds Collide’.
Interview by Eri Nishikami (Restir Magazine)
HRFQ : How was Yellow last night?
David Morales : It was great. I loved it. I like playing at Yellow.
HRFQ : This time, you’ll play at 2 parties in Tokyo, and each has different concept like “Yin” and “Yang”. Will the next gig at Air be totally different from the one you did at Yellow last night? And in which way?
David : Probably so. It’s not gonna be exactly the same. It’s probably gonna be darker, a bit techier.
HRFQ : It’s been 10 years since you released your last album. What is the biggest reason you’ve been away from original production for so long?
David : I was on the road DJing. From 1986 to 1995Call I did was work in the studio every single day, I would never leave the studio. I sort of got bored of the studio and at the same time it just happened that I was asked to go on the road and I ended up constantly spending more time on the road and didn’t have much time in the studio. I really didn’t have the urge to be in the studio anyway. Three years ago, I built a new studio and made me go back and start working in the studio again and that’s how I ended up making a new album. So now, what I wanna do is find a balance between traveling and making records.
HRFQ : So has your new album “2 Worlds Collide” been released only in Japan so far?
David : Yeah, only in Japan so far. Next will be Mexico and rest of the world. Japan’s got it first!
HRFQ : Your previous album was released through Mercury, which is a part of major records company but this time, it’s coming out from your own imprint. I’m sure there are thousands of positive things to be independent, but what was the hardest aspect of being independent?
David : I think to have the resources to really put it out there. I financed the whole album myself and I didn’t really care about being on a major record because there’re so much politics for the major. It’s a corporation, all they care about is money. They don’t care about the creativity and the heart that goes into it. I learned that in the past and I wasn’t going to make the same mistake again. I didn’t want somebody from a record company trying to tell me how I should make my record. I wanted to create something that I wanted for myself, trust my own judgment and be happy with what I made. So even if it doesn’t go well, at least I’m happy with it. The thing about having your own label was to have total freedom to creative control and every aspect of our music offers. Who I’m hiring, it gets expensive because it’s more than just putting out a record for me. I want to go beyond DJ’ing and really take it to the next level. Even when it comes to press and marketing, it takes money to hire a press and takes money to hire publicist, to press the release, the list goes on and on. You have the successful record but if you don’t have the money to keep it in the stores, you can go broke. So it’s more of a combination. I’m not looking to sell just 5000 records. I want to sell 100,000 records. You’re figuring all these because, it can get ridiculous. In this case, in licensing in different territories, all I can do is just give them the finished product. They know how to work their market. It’s better that way than to be a prisoner of a company where they give you a publicist but the publicist likes rock n’ roll. We are all artists and I don’t want to get confined in the DJ world because a real artist gets exposure beyond music magazines. DJs don’t usually get this exposure and this is what I mean by taking it to the next level.
HRFQ : We assume the title of album “2 Worlds Collide” contains your message against the recent world where you see more collisions happening around. Is is the right perception of the concept of this album or did it come from more of your personal experience?
David : It’s definitely coming from my own experiences but it also means that every body can relate to anything in your life. Day and night, black and white, two people, relationship two different perceptions. You can come from a rich place or you can come from a poor place, our worlds are colliding and anybody can relate to the lyrics of our songs.
HRFQ : All the singers featured on album are female. Does it mean you couldn’t find any of attractive male singers? Or is it somehow related with the direction of the album?
David : Cause I love women! (Laughter) Well, women sell more in the singer’s market. Males sell more probably in the Hip Hops. It’s hard to find men to do dance music, you know what I mean?. For me, I’d want somebody like New Order or Depeche Mode but it’s really hard to find somebody that’s willing to do dance because you know they don’t give a respect to house music in a sense. There was supposed to be one male but it didn’t work out.
HRFQ : I think it is a kind of a global trend that people prefer to hear more of melodious “SONGS” rather than mechanical “TRACKS” that are made only by samples and PCs.
David : The problem is that we have been overdosed with tracks with no melodies. Just so much of it out there. You know but a lot of that has to do with inexperience to write melodies, it’s easier to write tracks. You have to take somebody else into your world. That means a singer, that means a different personality, that means a different energy that you have to deal with and you somehow have to work with it. I suppose if you just work within your own entity, you’re just working for yourself but when you bring somebody else in, then you somehow have to work it so you get a great piece of work. I’ve had more experiences and I wasn’t born with the skills, you have to learn as you go along. You could be a 20 year old song writing producer but I’m talking about DJs because that’s where I came from. You need to be exposed to the music first to make that kind of music B
HRFQ : Did you actually get conscious of this element when you decided the timing of the release, as well as the concept of album?
David : No, I’ve just always been like that. That’s all I know how to do. It’s almost the songs and the melodies where you get the richness and the emotions. House music is the only style of music where there’re less melodies. You have it in hip hop, you have it in R&B, you have it in pops, country, jazz, you know, we are the only place where there’s no melodies.
HRFQ : Recent new technologies enables easier productions, and easier DJing, but on the other side of the coin, there’re so many emotionless music discharged by many easy-going producers. What is your view on this?
David : Absolutely. The technology has made it easier to make music, to play music. It’s almost like a formula, you can do it with your eyes closed. When I started playing records you had different breakers, different tempos that you have to somehow work it. You had to find the way to pick all these different tempos and you had to make it work together in a story. That had to be more creative as a DJ, as a mixer, how you put it together without train wreck or else you’re totally distorting the flow of the evening. Not to mention all those records back then were live musicians. The better training is the training that I had which is to work more to be creative. Today it’s so much easier to make music with less creativity. The technologies with CDJs etc are incredible but there’s a sacrifice to that. That is sound quality. You can’t buy a digital to analog converter, you can go to a super hi-fi store but who’s gonna spend a $25000 on a deck to play in a club? No way.
HRFQ : Are you personally interested in new technologies like Final Scratch?
David : Yes and no. the only thing I like about computer in that aspect is that you can have your catalogue in the computer where you can have 5, 10 thousands records as opposed to you can’t carry a 5000 records. You can a thousand but it’s crazy. The only thing about it is the whole process working on a computer as opposed to being spontaneous. I like being spontaneous. With the computer you have to think whereas with vinyl or CD, it’s visual. Lots of people work by visual, I work by visual, but with the computer, you have to think because you don’t have the records in front of you. But what you can do some of the technologies is mind-bugling. There’s an advantage and a disadvantage. I wouldn’t discredit the computer users because I’ve seen them doing some amazing things on computers. But I like interacting with the audiences. My whole show is with the audience. We are at the party. It’s going “Yo! What’s up!!” with the audience. I can’t do that if I had to concentrate on the computer. There’s no way. It’s like you’re being the host of the party. This is what you have to do to your audience not just like welcome, but have a good time (with a very serious look).
HRFQ : You juts played at Danny Rampling’s party at The Cross in London at early September, didn’t you? HigherFrequency’s British crew was there to report the party, and they all said it was brilliant night. Do you have more opportunities to play in Europe recently?
David : Yeah, I’m in Europe most of the time. I like Italy. It’s like my second home. Next to Japan. Love the food. And they love music. Every summer, I do a residency in Ibiza.
HRFQ : I think DEF Mix’s parties at Pacha, Ibiza were really successful. How was your Ibiza this year?
David : It was great. Me, Frankie, Satoshi for 3months, almost 4. It’s a club world mecca and it’s important for the scene.
HRFQ : On the contrary, we’ve recently been hearing negative news from NY, that a lot of pressures from politicians are going on recently and the underground scene seems to be damaged a lot. Do you actually see it happening?
David : It’s been like that for so long. You don’t see any clubs. There’s more clubs now so it’s getting better. All the big DJs aren’t getting any words or nobody’s paying attention to us, that’s how it is. It’s expensive to open up a club in NY. I hate playing in NY, that’s the one place I fear the most. I’d rather travel. They pay you more and they appreciate you more. They don’t want to book me in NY, that’s fine, ciao! I’ll go on the road!
End of the interview
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