Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Once Punk: Ron Morelli
-Whereas many DJ's play songs that make you ask, "Wow, What song is that?" Ron Morelli's mixes have this unusual effect on me where I end up asking, "Wow, Is that even a record playing?"-
The first time I heard Ron spin was downstairs at 205 Chrystie, a small Manhattan club known to DJ's for it's floating turntable setup, Urei rotary mixer, low ceilings, and excellent suspended speakers. Snack and I actually went to see our friend Lloydski DJ that night, but he must have just finished because when we got there all I see is this dude with a handlebar moustache killing the floor. The music sounded like a futuristic blend of house and funky synth shit and when the song was about to peak, I think Lloyd flipped the strobe light on, which made Ron look kinda like a skinnier Giorgio Moroder flashing in the dim club lights. Needless to say, the floor went nuts and we all had a great time. What I remember most is that the music didn't sound like any records I'd heard before and at one point I literally peeked in the booth to see if he was performing some of it live. Later, when I asked my friend who the DJ was, he said, "that's Ron Morelli" and I haven't forgot the name since.
That was in 2007. Recently, I was helping out Anton at the TTL store, who throws the 'No Ordinary Monkey' disco parties, and recommended a repress of Jody 'Finger' Finch's "Jack Your Big Booty" to him - a raw, dirty Chicago House jam that I was sure he'd be into. To my surprise, he passed on it saying, "If you want to hear some real jackin' stuff, you gotta hear Ron's new tracks." That's when the light went on and I again pictured the moustached DJ at 205 up to no good, but this time in the studio. I contacted him soon after and asked him to be a guest at our party - to our fortune, it turned out his schedule was open and he agreed. Through our conversations, I found out a little back story about one of our favorite DJ deviants in the city and what might be in store for the near future.
"I started out listening to Hip Hop at a young age through radio and older cousins stuff like Grandmaster Flash, Whodini, Run DMC, and the like...eventually in high school I got heavily into punk rock," says the native from Long Island, who also sung in a band and toured. In fact, the first turntables he had were used to listen to Punk 7"s." It wasn't until the frustration from having to deal with band members set in that the desire to create music with other people started to fade in the late-90s. At this time, the once vibrant NYC hip hop and club scenes started to decline, the money got worse from club owners and the value of the DJ really started going down. Coincidentally, that was when Ron took a trip west to San Francisco and happened upon an Eddie Def mixtape jam packed with electro classics which spawned his interest in djing.
Upon returning to New York in 1999, a friend of his was working at a store called Sonic Groove and put him on to new music there. He mentions getting blown away by the hard electro acids sounds of Bunker Records which featured artists like I-F and Unit Moebius. It was also during that era that artists from Holland like Legowelt, Guy Tavares, Bangkok Impact and Novamen were coming overseas pretty regularly, which further fueled his interest. "When I get into something, I get pretty obsessive about it," he says. "In many ways this music I was hearing was like punk - d.i.y., rebellious, and loud," so making the connection was pretty natural. Eventually in 2005, he went on the road to DJ with the Novamen - DJ Overdose and Ingmar Pauli, and Manhunter, who are his friends Jason and Ari, (Ari Goldman from Beautiful Swimmers). Ever since, Ron's been pretty serious about his craft.
If you ever happen to hear Ron spinning his mystic blend of chicago house, dubbed out synth jams, and pumping disco off-shoots, consider yourself lucky! He's quite a beast on the decks. You can also catch him turning you on to new music every Thursday 12-2am on his No Flash show with Pete Leonard on East Village Radio and maybe spending time in the studio to create new sounds.
He'll be our featured guest later this week at APT and this time we'll have the minidisc rolling, for sure.