“I don’t care about making pop music, I make music for the dancefloor.”
Grammy Award-winning producer, songwriter, and DJ David Morales is a household name in house music, having toured the world many times over. Morales’ influence continues to pervade the dance music space, as evidenced by one of 2021’s biggest hits, Skrillex and J Balvin’s “In Da Getto,” which samples his 1993 track “In De Ghetto.”
But in his travels, he’s also made friends in the music industry all over the world, such as Steve Laviniere of Bobby & Steve. The soul-house duo are known for their shows on KISS FM and Garage City, and their long-running Groove Odyssey label.
In March 2020, Laviniere suffered a rare brain injury called acute hemorrhagic leukoencephalitis after contracting COVID-19. In an effort to raise funds to help his rehabilitation, Morales headlined the “Dance For Stevie” fundraising event at Ministry of Sound, where he caught up with EDM.com for a candid interview.
EDM.com: David, how are you feeling today?
David Morales: I’m good. I’m very good.
EDM.com: As I understand it, it’s your first time back out and touring in a while?
David Morales: That was this summer actually, the first time in a year and a half.
EDM.com: When was the last time you were at Ministry of Sound?
David Morales: Around two and a half years ago. I’m excited to be back, this is like home. I love playing Ministry of Sound. It’s funny, when I arrived here I saw they were saying “30 years,” I was like, “Shit, I’ve been coming here for 30 years?!”
EDM.com: What was special about this specific event that you wanted to come out and support?
David Morales: Well, I guess the most important thing is to support Bobby & Steve. They’ve been part of the culture for a long time. They’ve been representing. They’ve always been supporting me and my music, and playing it on their radio show, so this is one of the best ways that I can give back—and this is how I do, you know what I’m trying to say?
And I love playing music, so when they asked me, I was like, “I’m there, don’t even worry about it.” I’ve been pushing it on my Twitch channel as well on my show on Sundays, just to give that extra push and that extra love, cause every little bit counts, because that could be any one of us in that situation.
EDM.com: Why don’t you tell people a little bit more about your show on Sundays on Twitch? What’s it called and what can people expect?
David Morales: It’s called “Sunday Mass” and it’s my virtual radio show. It’s unfiltered (laughs).
I developed “Sunday Mass” during the pandemic, and the most important thing about this was that it allowed people to see me. Because they see you from a distance, from the dancefloor, and they just have an illusion of who they think you are. They don’t really get to know who you are, so it’s something else when I have a camera up front, and I’m just being me, you know what I mean? I’m playing the music I love to play, the music I grew up with. I think it’s important for people to understand what influenced me when I grew up in the game.
EDM.com: What music is that?
David Morales: So I’m playing everything, from when I was in elementary school, till I was a teenager, till I went to high school, and that whole development. Because I come from the era of DJing where we just loved music, there was no DJ culture. So it was part of my own culture.
Music was a way of life for me. It was an escape. I wasn’t into video games—I was into books, music, and graffiti. So thank god that I found an avenue during the pandemic to really channel my energy, because that was really important, and to still keep me in connection with the audience, which was even more important. And it really got me to bring it full circle. It was almost like starting all over again but on a different channel.
And my iPhone turned into a webcam, and that turned into this whole setup, and now here we are a year and a half later. I do it every Sunday—I missed one Sunday because I had surgery—but otherwise I’ve invested a lot of time, money and energy to bring it to the people.
EDM.com: A lot of money in production?
David Morales: Absolutely, what makes you different than the next person? So it’s a vehicle for me to play my new music, be funny, tell some stories of myself growing up. People want to see you on another level, you know? To tell you the truth, I look forward to it like it’s my favorite club in the fucking world!
Before that, I would try and record my radio show in my room—and I got a slamming setup, make no mistake—but I would be bored cause I had no audience to play to, so I had no energy. But it’s funny with this whole Twitch thing, I can feel the audience in front of me, and that’s crazy. I also have a big screen where I’m watching the chat and all, so it was really good for me. A lot of people lost their way in every aspect of life, not just music.
Imagine so many DJs that weren’t able to play, and thank god that I’m a songwriter and producer, so I also worked on making a lot of songs, and I put a whole album together that’s coming out in January. So I dedicated a lot of time to the music, the pandemic gave me time that I normally wouldn’t have if I was constantly on the road.
EDM.com: I heard that from a lot of different artists. So let’s talk about the new album. What are the inspirations and what can we look forward to?
David Morales: I mean, it’s just where my head is at musically right now, you know, there’s a lot of great sounds and textures out there. I’m into my 5th decade of music. I’ve been exposed to so much music and all that is part of my library, my teachings, my law books, and I also like some of the stuff that’s evolving today. You have to evolve with the generation to keep playing the game.
I’m a DJ first, producer and songwriter second, so I still think as a DJ, I don’t care about making pop music, I make music for the dancefloor. I’m also an old-school breakdancer, so I know what makes people dance. I wrote and produced about 40 to 50 songs and I didn’t release anything before, because there was no movement and everybody’s spirit was down, so I didn’t want to waste the album, it would just fall flat. That’s why I’m going to put it out in January. I’m very happy about it, I have some new singers and a few old-seasoned singers as well. And then next year I’m going to be working on the next one.
EDM.com: What kind of sounds can we expect, genre-wise and instrument-wise?
David Morales: Both traditional instruments like pianos and strings, but also electronic, I love electronic sounds. I like to look ahead—you could say that I live in my own bubble, but I still pay attention and listen, I just don’t get caught up on what’s trending. It’s important to do your homework, but I don’t want to copycat things. I think it’s important to listen to things just to understand what’s going on. It’s like doing your homework. It’s like, if you’re a fighter you’re going to watch films of a fighter, not that you want to copy his style, you just want to know what you’re up against.
EDM.com: Yeah, look at the competition.
David Morales: For me, music is not a competition. It’s something else. Music is just love and joy. Even with DJing, I don’t see why people think I have competition.
It’s something that’s meant to be shared, if you take the origins going back to like thousands of years where a guy played some little instruments they had around a fire, it was to celebrate, to bring people together, and to me that’s what music is all about.
EDM.com: It’s a beautiful thing. Let’s talk about 2022. Let’s say the album is out— what’s next? Are you going on tour?
David Morales: I miss being on tour, there are so many reasons why I miss it. One is: I miss changing the channel, you know what I’m saying? One day you’re here, next day you’re there, the food, the culture, the people. When you’ve been on the road for almost 30 years, it becomes a routine, it’s normal. A lot of people would be like “holy shit” but they don’t know that there’s a lot of work that goes into that, it’s not as simple. But yeah I’ll be touring and making music for sure, they both go hand in hand.
EDM.com: What about on a personal level? What’s going on that the people should know?
David Morales: My personal life is expressed through my music. The name of my album is Life Is A Song.
EDM.com: Tell us more about that.
David Morales: Life is a song. Do you know what I mean? I just danced the days away, I take it a day at a time, today is one day, tomorrow is a new day, a new chapter. What this pandemic has really done is help me refocus on music, and in myself as a DJ and my career.
Life moves so fast that people never get a chance to stop and breathe and reflect on themselves, even you, because you never stop. And what I mean by stop, is really stop. Close yourself off, off of everything where your mind is, clear to just meditate and think. You’d be surprised about much we miss, so all of this has brought that to me. Like I said, I’m fortunate and grateful that at least I was able to channel my energy somewhere else, cause a lot of people didn’t have that luxury.