Nearly 25 years after revolutionizing New York’s dance music scene with his prolific club-pop sets, superstar DJ David Morales has produced yet another electronic masterpiece in his newest album “Changes” (to be released June 19).
The internationally-acclaimed, Grammy-winning DJ hosted a listening party last Thursday at Cielo for “Changes,” focusing on the album’s single “Golden Era ft. Roisin Murphy.” The celebration invited friends and press for an open bar private preview of the album from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m, then opened the club for fans to join in on the festivities.
In addition to disco-house track “Golden Era,” Morales debuted the sultry-vocals-meets-punchy-bassline single “Stay feat. Polina.” The legendary producer was joined on stage by friends and house music originators such as Frankie Knuckles, Hector Romero and Quentin Harris for a night of old-school electro magic.
Joonbug had a chance to sit down with the New York native to talk about his new album, house music’s progression and his feelings on today’s electronic-commercial craze.
David Morales: It’s all about changes in life. Changes I’ve been through over the years, it’s more personal than anything. Originally, I was going to call the album “Resurrection” when I finished it, because for me it was like starting something new and fresh. But changes derailed me and delayed the release, so I thought “Changes” would be better. It’s just something I think everyone can relate to. And even the messages within the lyrics of each song relates to something that identifies with change.
Jaime Sloane: How do you think “Golden Era” compares to your older dance tracks?
David Morales: I think it’s something completely different. Even with DJing, you have to evolve. Musically you have to keep evolving.
Obviously working with great artists helps. When you see “Golden Era” which is with Roisin Murphy, who many people love and respect at the moment, she’s really an eccentric artist as well. So it’s not just some bubblegum chick that just went “la la la.” She’s really deep and very personal about things. She’s not out to just sell herself, she takes pride in what she does in her art - just like I do. So obviously the match was great.
It’s all about evolving You can't stay stuck in a hole, otherwise you become old. People would say, “He’s just doing the same thing, same thing, same thing.” You have to evolve. You don’t lose your roots, you don’t lose your culture, you just have to evolve with the times.
Jaime Sloane: Well that kind of leads into my next question which is as a native New York DJ, what’s your opinion on how the electronic music scene has flourished since the underground techno days of the '80s?
David Morales: I think it’s great that there’s been a progression and acknowledgement in America, I just think the sounds are a bit limited. I think there’s more to be learned and exposed, and more room to grow.
Personally, I don’t see enough depth right now. It’s too much of the same thing over and over and over again.
Jaime Sloane: Is it the fact that everything has become so commercial?
David Morales: Well to be commercial is one thing, because commercial means that the music is popular so that’s okay. When Timbaland does something amazing, it becomes commercial because it’s popular. When you take a guy like Prince, it’s the same deal. I’m talking about people who are really artists, really badass producers - they don’t follow trends, they’re trendsetters.
When something gets overexposed there has to be an evolvement, otherwise it gets stale because how much can the same format be done over and over and over? And that’s what’s happening here. It’s gone away from songs, it’s gone away from vocal production, a lot of these new kids can't produce a vocal to save their life. They don’t know what a harmony is, they don’t know how to produce a proper song. It’s like, they put in a couple lyrics and then it goes “blah blah blah blah,” sounds like someone throwing up you know?
Songs have longevity. A lot of this music, and the people that are part of it, how long will they last? Will they go down in the Hall of Fame for being innovative? Or is it just a fly-by-night moment. You take a record like “Oops There It Is” which was huge and out there for a minute, and it was major. But it was just a moment. Is that record something you’re going to want to hear in 20 years? Something people will induct into the Hall of Fame? Absolutely not. And that’s what’s going on now.
You have certain people that come up in the scene that are responsible for the change and shift in music. Everybody else is just tagging along. You give respect to one, or two, for the evolution, for being the revolutionizers. The rest, they’re just followers. They’re just jumping on the scene. They’re capitalizing on something and raping it. Not because it’s original, but because this is what’s happening. Saying “Let me listen to what the biggest tracks are and let me copy this.”
There’s not much originality left. When you take old school guys who played sets, they were spontaneous. These guys are playing programmed two-hour sets and they don’t know what to do once they go past those two hours. A true artist needs to create, to have fulfillment. That’s what keeps an artist alive. People that just follow, they have no personality or originality, they don’t last. You will only last as long as you follow what you feel is popular and people want to hear, but you have no identity. It’s important to have an identity.