David Morales is a genuine legend in dance music. His CV is like a definition of what it takes to be a truly talented DJ, producer and remixer. He plays at the re-launch of Pushca this weekend.
What was your first Dance club?
Limelight in Manhattan. I was 15. It was the first time I saw straight and gay people in one room. I was totally amazed.
How did you come to be a DJ?
At home when there was only one turntable. I would put the speaker out the window and play music. My friends would say “Dave, play some music for us”! When I saw a DJ playing with two turntables and a mixer, I was like: “WOW! I want to do that”.
I was definitely a Loft head. The Loft was my church and David Mancuso was my preacher. He taught me that the most important thing was programming and not the mix. My Loft experience is what I bring to the table every time.
Did the record pool For The Record play a big part in steering your career?
Absolutely! Without For The Record I wouldn’t be where I am today. Being a member allowed me to meet the best DJs remixers and producers. It was because of Judy Weinstein that I was asked to play at the Paradise Garage. It was because of Judy that I was able to excel in my career.
What was your first paid gig as a producer?
‘I’ll Be Your Friend’ by Robert Owens.
Your productions with Frankie Knuckles are legendary – are you very technical or is it the ideas that count?
I am the more technical one between us, but it’s about having ideas and working with people that make it happen. I always did the drum programming and together we direct the musicians.
Do you see your productions as ‘house music’ or more, as Mel Cheren used to say, “danceable R&B”?
I see them as “danceable R&B” for sure.
Your Dreamlover remix is another modern classic that redefined pop/dance remxing. Tell us about the experience?
When I was approached I wasn’t a Mariah Carey fan at all. I listened to the original and said it was too poppy. I said the only way it could happen was if she was to re-sing it. I never thought that they would take it seriously. So when they said ok she’ll re-sing it, I was nervous because I had never produced a major artist. I mean it was Mariah Carey! At the end it was an amazing experience and I then became a Mariah Carey fan. Dreamlover exposed Mariah to a whole new audience.
Since the 90s dance has taken over. Do you think it’s a truly global form?
It’s become pop – bigger than ever. Major artists are finally producing dance records as oppose to the remix being the dance version.
‘How Did U Feel’ won the Grammy in 1998 – was that a personal high?
Winning a Grammy was definitely a highlight of my career. I used to watch the Grammy’s on TV so to finally be nominated, attend and win a Grammy for Remixer Of The Year was amazing! At that time it was more for your body of work, not like it is today where you get nominated for a particular song.
“There’s no better feeling than playing a set and watching people go nuts!”
What do you miss most about the Loft, Garage and Factory?
All of them were places for people to go to listen and dance to great music. It was like a community where you always saw the same faces. You had one DJ that knew how to manipulate and break new records. Today clubs book numerous DJs to play only 2 hour sets. It’s no longer about creating a journey. It’s all about just trying to attract people based on a line-up. There’s no journey or continuity. The problem is that creativity and originality no longer exist.
What was the last record to make you react and go “Wow – awesome!”?
A mash-up I did with Kevin Saunderson’s ‘Future’. It’s one of my biggest tracks.
Will you be road testing any new productions at Pushca?
I never prepare for a set. I always just go with the flow. I will definitely be playing new unreleased material.
After four decades what’s next for you – will you ever stop?
As long as I love to play and make music and get a high from it I will keep going. There’s no better feeling than playing a set and watching people go nuts!