The mind behind ‘I Like to Move it’ remains one of the world’s most popular DJs. So why is he thinking of winding it in? James Wilkinson investigates
Over the past 17 years, Erick Morillo has covered just about every career base that a house DJ can. He started out as everyone does, an unknown quantity doing his own thing in the industry. But the creation of house act Reel 2 Real and the hit single ‘I Like to Move it’ sent his fame skyrocketing. Wanting to retain his credibility, Morillo then pursued a consciously underground edge. But his fame stuck with him, leaving him in a rather unusual position.
‘Am I really an underground DJ?’ he muses rhetorically on a seriously wobbly phone line from LA. ‘I don’t know. People say I am, but everybody knows me and the music I play varies from underground stuff to tracks that are not-so-underground. I don’t see myself as an underground DJ, but I don’t see myself as a commercial DJ either. I would consider myself one of the best house DJs in the world, that’s how I would put it.’
You wouldn’t call Morillo the world’s most self-effacing DJ. In fact, he’s got something of a reputation as a behind-the-scenes diva. But during this phone call, at least, his self-confidence is coupled with a patience and politeness that even weathers the line dropping dead a total of nine times. Still, he makes no bones about his skill and his fame, which is why it’s surprising that he’s so open about the possibility of switching careers.
‘Acting is still my dream,’ he says in a frenetic, enthusiastic tone. ‘I’m in the middle of buying a house in LA and I’m going to live over there and pursue it as a career. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid.’
But what kind of work would he go after? ‘I wouldn’t mind being in a sitcom, maybe a new neighbour in Two and a Half Men. Or I could definitely do a supporting role in a war movie like The Hurt Locker. I don’t consider myself [affects haughty tone] “a serious ac-tor”, so I think I’d pursue a supporting role. I don’t think I’m ready to be the lead in anything, but the more experience I get, the more I’ll get better at it.’ Experience is what Erick says he needs. He certainly can’t rely on his day job to bring in the offers. ‘What I love about my career is that I’m very, very famous in the club scene, but [in the wider culture] I fly under the radar.’
And if you’re worried that this is the end of Erick’s trips to Dubai, don’t fret – it doesn’t look like he’ll be throwing in the towel too soon. ‘I’ve done so well on the music front that it’s really difficult to let go of it as much as I want to. I’m taking a weekend off a month, but I’m still enjoying myself so much that I can’t let go completely. When you connect with a crowd, you get an amazing high – there’s nothing like it in the world. I’m addicted to it, that instant gratification. I just can’t let it go.’
Erick Morillo plays Nova Nights at Sanctuary, April 16, Dhs200 regular, Dhs250 VIP.