The brainchild of visionary house music producer Erick Morillo, Subliminal Records first emerged in clubland back in 1997. Things were a little different then. Dance music still primarily traded on vinyl and CD and this red-hot New Jersey record label quickly moved to the front of DJ’s record boxes with a string of serious filtered house music smashes…
The brainchild of visionary house music producer Erick Morillo, Subliminal Records first emerged in clubland back in 1997. Things were a little different then. Dance music still primarily traded on vinyl and CD and this red-hot New Jersey record label quickly moved to the front of DJ’s record boxes with a string of serious filtered house music smashes like The Pianoheadz – ‘Distortion’, Jose Nunez – ‘In My Life’, Joey Negro – ‘Can’t Get High Without You’ and ‘Hazin’ + Phazin’ by The ‘Choo Choo’ Project, the first breakthrough hit for Harry Romero and something of a calling card for the filter disco style of this rapidly developing record label. And while those early releases really did come thundering through, there was a very good reason for that: before the label’s launch, Erick spent eighteen month’s getting everything right. Getting the logo right; getting the design just so. “We didn’t want to look like any other US label and this wasn’t going to be just another label,” says Erick. “I wanted the label to be known for quality music, so when you go into the store and buy a Subliminal record, know you’ve got a quality record.”
And while those early releases focused on American artists like Richard F, Jason Jinx and Erick himself, they soon set their sights further afield, snapping up European releases like Pete Heller’s ‘Big Love’ and ‘I Feel For You’ by Bob Sinclar. Meanwhile Jocelyn Brown, who had sung on the very first Subliminal release ‘Fun’ returned to church for ‘Believe’ by Ministers De La Funk, a record so large that it hovered high over Ibiza dance-floors for two consecutive seasons. Further vocal hits from Sandy Rivera & John Alvarez (‘Forever’, Featuring Shawnee Taylor), Kid Crème – ‘Austin’s Groove’ (also featuring Shawnee) and the worldwide smash ‘So Many Times’ by Gadjo would also explode, the latter hitting the top ten around the world in 2004. Erick’s debut album ‘My World’ also dropped that year. Whatever way you looked at it, the label had landed.
The Years That Followed
And while the years that followed saw the releases continue (with annual Subliminal Sessions mix CDs dropping every summer and key releases from Red Carpet, Exacta, Lee Kalt and Antranig), it was in the summer of 2010 that Erick decided to properly throw his focus and energy back into the label after several years spent mostly on the road keeping up a relentless DJ schedule. “It’s true that I focused my attention on the DJ front but now we’re back!” says the irrepressible Erick. “I can’t wait for everyone to hear what we have coming and I’m equally excited that we’re opening an office in London too.”
And just as he did in 1997, for Subliminal version 2.0, the team went back to basics see what really mattered. So the vinyl production came to an end, the digital business started to grow and a slick new logo was delivered for a new era. Ask Erick what prompted the change and his answer is at quick as it is exact. “There’s a resurgence in quality dance music again. For a long time, because of the internet, the business was not much fun. But now that everyone has a laptop and it’s easier to download legally, we can run a business from it and at the same time everyone has come back making stuff I really love.”
And while some things change, some things stay the same. So Shawnee Taylor, the first lady of Subliminal will have a new single and album in 2011 (‘she’s set to have a great year!’ nods Erick) and the original core team of Erick, Harry and Jose will return as Sympho Nympho (“our electro crossover band-I’m looking to come back hard to the scene”) which will feature guest vocalists like Dizzee Rascal, Shaggy, Craig David, and many more. And then we have another group geared towards clubland called In The Screen and will have featured vocals from Rachel Starr, Roisin Murphy and many more. Meanwhile, as a solo artist, you can expect more Morillo collaborations with Eddie Thoneick to follow the piano anthem ‘Life Your Life.’ (In fact, the new single has a name – and that name is ‘Stronger’ featuring Shawnee Taylor and an album project will follow.) After that you can expect another single with Skin from Skunk Anansie. Finally, look out for a group coming out of the US on Sondos called Lights Out.
Meanwhile, as a solo artist, you can expect Morillo collaborations with Eddie Thoneick to follow the piano anthem ‘Life Your Life.’ The changes come from newer names like Sunnery James and Ryan Marciano, Markus Binapfl, Rony Seikaly, Juan Kidd/Jason Herd and returning producers like Lee Kalt, Pete The Zouk and Antranig. There will be some surprises too – former Subliminal resident Richard F will be making his production comeback, as will house music legend Eddie Amador with a new song called ‘Spirituality’. And one of Erick’s favourite productions – ‘Until There Was You’ by Rachel Starr will see it’s spiritual sequel as Rachel delivers ‘We Are The Night’ for the label, an Everything But The Girl style anthem that Erick’s already described as “ridiculous.” Add to that a mysterious new signing called Lola and you’ll wonder how they managed to stay quiet for as long as they did. “I’m really chasing music now,” nods Erick. “Subliminal, Sondos and Subusa, we’re kicking ass!” He wouldn’t have it any other way.
Sondos is the badly behaved offspring of Erick Morillo’s Subliminal label. Designed to be an outlet for Erick’s darker side with a more tribal, deep, techier and edgier flavour than its parent label. After a recent sabbatical, the label has returned with new releases, new artists and a brand new outlook. Watch out people, Sondos is back.
A little edgier and unpredictable
Sondos is the legendary label that could be considered the black sheep of the Subliminal family; it’s like Erick Morillo’s even bader alter ego, the one that is a little edgier and unpredictable, goes to the best clubs and doesn’t come home until dawn.
From its initial conception in 2001 it has always been an outlet for the development of new up and coming artists. The labels sound has a much deeper, techier flavour than its senior. It was the label that first put tracks out by Thick Dick, Antranig, Alex Alicea, Jose Nunez, Who Da Funk and Richard F. Always remaining a special and well respected imprint designed to put out new underground tracks to house heads everywhere that would not necessarily fit the typical Subliminal profile.
Sondos’ first release was the legendary Thick Dick ‘Welcome 2 The Jungle’ in 2001 followed quickly by an equally salacious track name HCCR ‘Suck My Clock’, both underground smashes that still get played today. Releases continued relentlessly until the label took a break in 2006. Now Sondos is re-activated, with the first new tracks from the likes of Cevin Fisher and Harry Choo Choo Romero, plus Antranig (Danny Teneglia’s producer) who is lined up to be the primary artist on the label alongside Lee Kalt.
During that time, the label’s most distinctive track and the tune that DJs talk about with the greatest fondness is Thick Dicks ‘Insatiable’, a track that epitomised the era when soulful house met tougher beats and was to become the universal sound of clubland at that time.
Sondos will continue in its quest to discover, cultivate and break new artists and deliver fresh sounds for the world’s dance floors. Previously considered a vinyl-only label, it has now become future proof with digital-only releases.
House music is most definitely back, and Harry Choo Choo Romero is picking up on the return of those raw house beats by re-launching his infamous Bambossa imprint. It joins the rejuvanated Subliminal family on a mission to drop it’s own brand of sexy, tracky, uncompromising club sounds on a new generation of dancefloors.
Louie Vega checking out Loco Dice, Sneak DJing with Ricardo Villalobos and Todd Terry spotted on his way into Cocoon – whatever way you look at it, house music is back and the original ambassadors are out in force to see their techno peers in action. Little wonder, then, that Harry ‘Choo Choo’ Romero has chosen this moment to re-launch his infamous Bambossa label into the market. “The minimal dudes are playing tracky house now!” he laughs, shaking his head incredulously. “It’s come around. And I’m really enjoying what I’m seeing and hearing.”
Longtime fans of Romero will know that it’s an imprint and an outlet for his own home-grown productions, which veer from the hypno-house classic ‘What Happened’ to DC10/Pacha classics “Tania’ and ‘Night @ The Black’. “For me, Bambossa has always been an outlet for underground, tracky, jazzy experimental house,” he says. “It’s been around for ten years – our first release was in 2000! – but we never had a mission statement and we never put out a lot of music. It was more a case of ‘do I like it?’ and if I do, ‘do want to keep it?”
Harry says he has plans to re-release ‘Tania’ in 2011, but aside from a timely update for the track, the rest of the releases will be brand new. Once again, everything is house and the music we make is sexy and raw… So look out for ‘Is This Time Goodbye?’ with soul star Trey Lorenz, ‘Before You Fall’ (which features has a pure Sneak/Derrick Carter vibe and a black preacher vocal), ‘Conquista’ (“that’s NYC in the mid 90s with a vocal Latin sample!” according to Harry) and ‘Tribute To Vagabundos’ which is of course Harry’s musical ode to Pacha Ibiza’s hottest new resident Luciano. “Once again, everything is house and the music we make is sexy and raw,” say Harry. And who are we to argue with Choo Choo?
As you’ll have seen from our recent Bambossa announcement, Subliminal and its family of labels are back on firing form in 2010. So now that we’ve seen Sondos and Bambossa back in the game, it’s time for the next label to step up and take some glory. And that label, of course, is Subusa.
Longtime Subliminal and Subusa fans will remember the label for vocal disco smashes like the worldwide hit ‘Shiny Disco Balls’ by Who Da Funk featuring Jessica Eve, Who Da Funk – ‘Sting Me Red’ with Terra Deva, The Crystal Method – ‘Born Too Slow’ and ‘Call Me’ by The Dronez featuring Shawnee Taylor.
Of course, collectors and fans will recall that every single one of these tracks came out on vinyl via traditional record stores, whereas Subusa Version 2.1(0) will be a digital-only affair, meaning your house music needs can be met harder and faster than ever before.
“I can’t wait for you to hear and see what we have in store!” says Erick Morillo. “Look out for new music from some really hot artists coming out via Subusa before the end of the year.”