Day By Day: An Interview with Ron Morelli
The L.I.E.S. founder reflects on the release of his new album, dissecting his influences and addressing the lineage of the label.
There are very few record labels which have kept it as real as L.I.E.S. have. That’s a testament to the hard work and grit of Ron Morelli, the figurehead behind the imprint which has ensured it retains a no nonsense approach and only releases records of distinct, unique quality without the bulls**t.
Founded in New York, the label has been in operation for over ten years now and has existed through the various fads, revivals, hype eras and beyond. Ron Morelli is stubborn in the best way – not one to be talked into anything he doesn’t believe in and a huge supporter of whatever is weird, wonderful and designed to challenge the preconceptions of that which is or isn’t popular.
Over the years the record label has released music by the likes of Legowelt, Terekke, Marcos Cabral, Svengalisghost, Greg Beato, Eric Copeland, Delroy Edwards, Tom of England, Tzusing, Beau Wanzer and many, many more. It would be easy to wax lyrical about the calibre of the back catalogue L.I.E.S. has amassed but that in and of itself would be against the nature of an imprint which has always let the music do the talking.
At the end of this month Ron Morelli will release his first album on L.I.E.S.. That’s not to say that he hasn’t released albums before, in fact he’s put out plenty on the likes of Hospital Records and Collapsing Market.
However, this all feels a bit full circle. As if there’s something strange blowing in the wind, bringing him back to where it all began and releasing a record which reflects why he started all of this in the beginning.
The new album is titled “Heart Stopper” and is made up of a collection of tracks which might have also worked well split across a series of EP’s – that wasn’t the point.
This is dirty, old fashioned House music in its truest and purest form. An album comprised of fast paced jackin’ cuts which are built for a club and offer a tip of the hat to the DIY figureheads of Chicago and New York who kickstarted this whole mess in the first place. It all feels quite timely really.
We caught up with Ron to reflect on why the time was now…
So, this is the first full length album you’ve put out on LIES, why was now the right time?
“Yes this is the first full length put out on L.I.E.S. under my own name. Thirteen years after the label started and there is no time better than now…the reasons are as such… The focus of the label was always about putting on other artists and now time has allowed where I can shift the focus on to my own productions and use the label as an outlet. I also see it as a strong statement to release the record through my label as there is full artistic control over all aspects top to bottom and if one wants a job done right then it’s always best to do it yourself.”
Do you buy into the ‘concept’ of a dance album? If so what makes this that rather than a collection of tracks for the club
“Clearly I do buy into the concept of a “dance album” as I have just done one…ha. I think a lot of the dance music media in the 2000s really took a “rock” approach when looking at dance music albums, thus giving the long play format a stigma within the genre. Usually “rock” albums have a definitive narrative while often dance music (use to be) looked at as a somewhat faceless and mysterious genre (clearly not anymore) where the tracks are more tools for djs played in a club rather than what would be looked at as traditional “songs”. But to me this viewpoint is false and if you look at classic albums by artists such as Fingers Inc.’s, “Another Side,” Inner City’s “Paradise,” or Virgo’s “Virgo” lp they are all perfect examples of dance music full lengths with sonically cohesive songs which all carry an individual persona and create a unifying sound from start to finish. Not to mention the proof is there as some of these releases reached chart topping success worldwide breaking through to the mainstream in some places.
The way I see my album “Heart Stopper” is as such. There is most importantly a sonic aesthetic tying all the songs together, it is not one random track after one random track. There is a concept with the record as well and that idea is displayed within the track titles, lyrics, and overall sonic atmosphere within the music…its all tied together in a way that makes complete sense start to finish and that is what one would want from an album.”
"If one wants a job done right then it's always best to do it yourself."
The record is inspired 80’s House Music, back when people really used to dance, what is it that draws you back to that era?
“For me that is an era that I have been obsessed with since I was exposed to the likes of the originators such as Ron Hardy, Boyd Jarvis and Timmy Regisford, Farley and the Hotmix 5, Bobby Konders, and so on and so forth. It was an era when music was fresh and there was true experimentation as the genre was just starting after disco was dying out.
It is completely psychedelic music, jam packed with emotion, its uplifting, its dark, its sad. You hear tracks from the time and wonder how and why the artist came from point A to point B. Tracks like Lil Louis “War Games”, Ron Hardy’s “Trust Track”, Marcus Mixx’s “Psychousic” Chip E’s “Hiccup Track” or Fingers Inc. “Music Take Me Up” are all examples of the true amalgamation of styles where bits and pieces of genres (r+b, soul, disco basslines replayed, new wave hooks etc) where fused together in a post disco world with new machines hitting the market and creative minds running wild to do as they saw fit. It was and still is a truly exciting time for me and my obsession of the “how and why?” continue to this day.
My record is a small contribution to the many that came before and the many that will come after for those who truly want to keep the true roots of the genre in the forefront and not let the true essence be lost in the endless sea of nonsense that’s flooded the market.”
How do you feel about the evolution of LIES, did you ever imagine it would come this far?
“I take it all day by day, I never had any expectations other than to be able to put out music that I stand behind and wanted to get out to the public. I think the fact that we’re able to do that still in this day and age is an accomplishment and we’re very lucky to be able to keep doing it thanks to a very loyal fanbase.”
Describe your experiences in New York, A1 was influential, I imagine you met some mad characters? Was that part of the charm?
“The A1 days in NYC were some of the best days. And as you could imagine alot of characters coming in left and right Fed Ex Don, Guts, Master Rob, SoloPlex, Russian Alan, Stinky Steve, Latin Willie, RatBones, Catfood guy, Helen from upstairs…the list is long, varied, and wild with too many stories to even mention at length. Someone recently asked me about “community” which I think is kind of a nonsense blanket term, but I will say the days at the shop were the closest to something of a “community” I have seen as it was a bunch of freaks whom didn’t belong together under one roof unified under the banner of totally autistic record collecting madness!!!”
What does music mean to you personally, what drew you to Punk and House originally?
“Focus, solitude, creativity, expression and destruction. Punk to me was a way to escape, it was a sonic time bomb exploding in your face, it was freedom, energy and magic…later on House music had a very similar effect on me, most specifically in the sonic realm.”
You’ve steered clear of a lot of the bulls**t associated with commercial electronic music, why is that?
“It’s quite simple, I’m into music straight up that’s what I’m here for, not nonsense. Not trends, not fake political posturing, not the dress up show, not the fake commentary. No time of any of it. I keep my head down, stay in my lane and keep it moving.”
Who do you most look up to?
“People who stay true to their visions and ethics. Those who do not follow the masses and think for themselves. In music specifically I-F, Traxx, Jeff Mills, Legowelt, Regis, Public Enemy, Jamal Moss…”
“More music, more records, more touring, more action!”
Buy the record HERE.
Joining The Circus
What to do for British politics?
Solidarity with Ukraine
URL vs. IRL
Do DJs Today Need Social Media to Be Heard?
I Hear (Borusiade Remix)
Mother of MarsShop Now
Hologram TeenShop Now