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As a warmup for his performance at Winter Music Conference next month, Erick Morillo will spin at Club Space this Saturday.
Raised in Colombia and New Jersey, the DJ/record label owner is most popular for the song "I Like to Move It," which he recorded under the pseudonym Reel 2 Real. That song, originally released in 1993, has been resurrected many times, most recently in the DreamWorks film Madagascar. Its combination of European and Latin house music was driven by the ragga vocals of native Trinidad and Tobago rapper The Mad Stuntman, and the recipe made Morillo a millionaire.
"I bought my mom a house," he says proudly. "I'd put her through a lot when I was younger, and like every kid, I said, öWhen I grow up, I'll buy you a house.' To be in a position so early on where I could actually do that has been the most fulfilling moment of my career so far."
Becoming one of the top five highest-paid DJs in the world, however, was a long process. Morillo began DJing at the age of eleven, and after securing himself sets at several New Jersey clubs, he decided to take a studio engineering course. Through his friend, the then-unknown Marc Anthony, he found a mentor in Louie Vega, who persuaded him to concentrate on vocals. This led directly to the Reel 2 Real project, which catapulted him into the Billboard Hot 100 and later collaborations with luminaries such as P. Diddy.
So what would a newbie DJ need to possess in order to have some hope of similar success (and maybe buy his or her own mom a house someday)? "A sampler, a sequencer, and that's about it. I started by editing other people's records. I wasn't even producing; I was remixing other people's records, and that's how I got my break." Eric W. Saeger