It’s not hard to see where he’s going with his showcase project. One album is titled feel and the other move.
Those words aptly sum up Moran’s career. He’s worked on top dance hits with such artists as Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Madonna, Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Rihanna, Mary J Blige, Janet Jackson and Jennifer Lopez.
Moran’s hard-hitting, tribal-house anthems are infused electronica. He has produced 67 No. 1 records, and was just voted No. 92 on Billboard’s All-Time Greatest Dance Club Artists.
Although he’s best known for his work in the DJ booth and studio, Moran has also released a number of independent singles and albums throughout his three-decade career.
His latest is highlighted by “So Happy” by Jason Walker. It’s the first dance track from the album to zoom up to No. 1 on the Billboard Dance Club chart.
IM caught up with Moran to talk about his work, right before his departure for Brazil for a DJ-appearance.
Improper: Who first got you into the DJ-ing?
Moran: My friends in High School. They knew I loved music and saw from early on that I had a knack bringing energy to any party – house parties, block parties. I’d make my own customized cassettes to promote myself and make new friends. My musical style went from hip-hop to imports with music inspired by ‘The Loft’ sound!
IM: How did you and Albert Cabrera meet? The two of you, as The Latin Rascals, mixed a boatload of records. What stands out as a highlight of that era?
Moran: I worked in a unique record store that not only sold commercial music, but specialized in new music coming in from around the world. Key DJs were very attracted to that sound and we often hung out at the store, playing each other’s tapes and styles. Everything we shared had the same common thread–being fresh and different from the conventional music we were hearing all the time.
Given my deep admiration for Albert, I suggested we join forces to help each of us get better. We then were discovered simultaneously by Carlos De Jesus, Program Director of the hottest station then in New York City, and by producer Arthur Baker, who was not only a legend, but a pioneer in what was becoming a strong force in electronic music. Arthur wasted no time getting us into the mix–two 17-year-old Latino kids with no studio experience whatsoever. The test was to show if we actually had skill, or just enjoying a lucky streak.
I was nervous, but was eager for the challenge! We learned everything we could to develop our sound to prove him right. Next thing I know, I am in the studio with Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen and Hall and Oates. And, our voices actually counted. It was incredible!
IM: Back then, it seemed as if every single record got a remix. Are there as many remixes being produced now?
Moran: Yes there are, and I really don’t have an opinion on that. In this generation, there are far more opportunities to express yourself. But I notice that relatively few people use today’s ability to offer something new. Instead they stick with a style that’s close to what others are doing already. The key to being noticed is to make your flow distinctive, with its own unique signature.
IM: Let’s talk about your new album moodswings; how did that come together?
Moran: That was a labor of love. Being in control of your own project changes everything! Essentially, my dream has come true. moodswings has allowed me to express some of the many different musical styles that I knew were within me. The writers and singers that collaborated with me are truly a top notch team. I was there for every vocal. That’s what a producer does. My wonderful label and collaborators helped me pick the best of the best from the many things we created.
IM: Vocalist Kimberly Davis is on several of the tracks; tell us about her.
Moran: Kimberly came into my life through my co-songwriter/lyricist Mike Greenly. I hadn’t heard a vocal like hers since Whitney. Kimberly sang one song for me at a club, and that was all I needed to hear. I dragged her into a studio two days later, ready to discover what we could do together. She’s been my baby ever since. Artists like Kimberly, Ryan Shaw, Martha Wash and Matt Zarley do this to me every time. Working with such high-level talent is a blessing.
IM: And, how did the collaboration with Jason Walker come about?
Moran: I wrote the songs he performs for us specifically with him in mind. I could hear him in my head while I was writing.
IM: That video for “So Happy,” that’s you in there, right? Tell us about the shoot?
Moran: It was all just meant to be fun. After all, the song is called “So Happy!” I didn’t want to be featured in the video too much. Great work, Karl Giant.
IM: You’re still DJ-ing around the country; tell us about how those gigs are?
Moran: I’m in Brazil next, Mexico last week and South Korea before. This is a global thing and I am honored by the responses everywhere.
IM: Your music seems perfect for movies and TV; is that something in the future?
Moran: Yes, that’s part of the dream. Glad you feel that way too.
IM: moodswings is available in January; will there be selected shows with the guests from the album?
Moran: Yes, working on that now at the Bitter End in New York City.
Check out the video below.
Let us know your thoughts and be sure to follow IM on Twitter for the latest music news.