Ron Morelli on L.I.E.S. and Greg Beato: "Expect the Unexpected"
Ron Morelli's music is not for everyone. But that's how it usually goes with artists that make few compromises in their work. Ostensibly a techno producer, his records can be arrhythmic, atonal, and murkily atmospheric -- caustic machine noise experiments more akin to the power electronics subgenre of industrial music.
Clearly, Morelli has no interest in conforming to dance floor conventions, let alone pandering to mainstream EDM tastes. Browse through the catalog of his celebrated Long Island Electrical Systems (L.I.E.S.) imprint and you'll find that his A&R pickings can be just as subversive.
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Side by side with the more experimental, genre-defying fare on L.I.E.S. though, is the raw house and techno purism of Legowelt, Delroy Edwards and Miami's own Greg Beato, among others. So all in all, Morelli's role is increasingly one of dance music conservationist, not just leftfield electronic music trailblazer.
Crossfade caught up with Ron Morelli ahead of his performance with Greg Beato and SAFE at the Electric Pickle tonight. Topics of conversation included his musical roots, L.I.E.S. and his new EP.
Crossfade: What did you grow up listening to and how did you first get drawn to electronic dance music? Were there specific labels, artists or records that most shaped your early appreciation for electronic dance music?
Ron Morelli: Growing up, I was into early hip-hop: Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Run-D.M.C., Beastie Boys, Kurtis Blow, Whodini, Public Enemy, Boogie Down Productions, EPMD, and so forth. Was also heavily into classic rock, metal, punk, and hardcore -- Slayer, Metallica, Black Flag, Misfits, etc. My gateway into modern electronic music was through hanging around Sonic Groove Records, as I had friendsu' working there, and finding out about the Hague squatter electronic music scene, specifically Bunker and Murder Capital Records and all of their various sub-labels.
Around 1999, 2000 to 2001, a lot of the guys from the label would tour the States and come to NYC to play. It was very bare bones and totally punk in its approach. I never went to raves or clubbing in NYC growing up, though all of my other friends were heavily involved with that. From there, I worked backwards, delving into the classic building blocks from NYC, Chicago, Detroit, and further.
Did you have a concept in mind for L.I.E.S. when you first set out to launch the imprint? What sort of sound or aesthetic are you looking for to define the label and what's your criteria for signing artists and material to release?
There was no concept in starting the label, it was simply that I had a group of people around me sitting on music and we decided to release it and see what happens once it got out there. As far as the sound of the label, if you are a fan and have followed it from the beginning, one would know there is no specific sound of the label. We have put out soundtrack records, Krautrock guitar jams, house records, techno records, noise stuff. It is an open door musically. As long as it makes sense to me when I hear it, then I'll release it.
Regarding artists who I sign, I generally like to have a personal relationship with the artist before we even speak about releasing music. It's better to get a feel for a person and their intent before jumping into putting out music.
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