Tony Moran is considered a multi-talented artist who has stayed ahead of musical trends and is still in high demand after being in the music industry for three decades. Many of you may remember "Show Me" by the Cover Girls, produced with Albert Cabrera as the Latin Rascals. It still remains a freestyle classic. He has produced hits for Celine Dion, Gloria Estafan, Donna summer, and a list of others. He is also a vocalist, having covered "The Promise" by When In Rome and Lighthouse Family's "High". He also produces for Centaur Entertainment's Emerge Records, having produced the soundtrack to Circuit, the hit movie from 2002. Tony took time recently to talk with Chicago's DJ Keith Ware.
KW: So when and how did you get started in the industry?
TM: I've been a DJ since I was 15 years old, playing dances in high school, doing block parties in my neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY and then getting a regular DJ mix show on the dance station WKTU. It was while working at this station that I was noticed by people at record companies.
KW: What song got you hooked on the biz?
TM: While I was first playing rap music and old school beats in my sets, I would have to say that there were 2 songs that mesmerized me and turned a hobby into an obsession. They are "Planet Rock" by The Soul Sonic Force and "Mac Arthur Park" by Donna Summer.
KW: Do you find the industry different today than when you got started or has it stayed the same just with different players?
TM: I absolutely find the music industry to be different from it once was. With certain exceptions, record company executives are more interested in the music/marketing philosophy than in the music/artist philosophy. And when it comes to dance music, outside of the independent record companies, there are rarely meetings that are taken by executives for artists who are singing dance music
KW: You are considered one of the founding fathers of Free-style, helping define the genre. In house music there are very few of the founding fathers still making music how do you keep it fresh and interesting for you?
TM: I have no real method of explaining while I am still here. Looking back, I can say that as times changed and as music changed, I did not depend on what I had achieved before to try to get my foot into a new door again. For many record executives, when a sound that you are a part of is over, you are over. That's it. I knew that many times I would have to prove myself by starting at the bottom all over again. I would do projects for free in order to showcase my music. My new music. I am constantly working with new and fresh talent. We teach other and it keeps me evolving. For as many successes I have had, I have had many failures, but that's OK. I would much rather fail at something than to not even try. I do not waste too much time brooding about music changing, I do something about it.
KW: How does it feel to be an originator of a style of music that still has such a huge following?
TM: I am proud to have been a part of something that has stood the test of time. I was a kid that was oblivious any significance that I would have with the music I was making. I was just having fun with Albert Cabrera in the
studio and executing what was on my mind and in my heart. I am grateful that there are people out there that connect to it.
KW: What future if any do you see in Free-style since Electroclash is very popular?
TM: The thing about the music business that is so fascinating is that you cannot predict the future. Anything is possible. I am sure that there is a song that is coming or maybe an artist that is about to come up on the radar that can bring the music forward again.
KW: Do you feel that coming out a few years ago made any impact on your career, be it a positive or negative one?
TM: I never came out with a bang. I didn't all of sudden start wearing rainbow T-shirts and buying Prada clothing. I was in denial about who I was when I was younger because I was scared to sacrifice everything that was important to me. My family, my friends and my career. But one day I realized that none of these relationships would have any meaning if I could not base them who I was. Not any one part, but the sum of the parts. I do not think that it has affected my career in either direction. My work speaks for itself. I don't work with people expecting to be judge me.
KW: I remember seeing you on a television series about music but the name of the program slips my mind, What was it called? And what was that like?
TM: I had a video/variety show that was produced by MTV called Second Generation that was on for 3 years. It was pretty incredible, but I became a bit paranoid about being recognized so much by people that I would least
expect would know who I was. I was happy that I did it, but I never wanted to be an actor or an on air personality. I like being behind the scene more.
KW: How was the Circuit experience? Do you plan on doing music for more feature films?
TM: I would like to score more movies and there are talks about different projects, but right now I am happy with working on multiple projects.
KW: Celine Dion or Donna Summer? Discuss ;) Seriously though, what is it like working with world re-known Divas?
TM: I have been very fortunate enough to work with some of the worlds ultimate Divas and it was like working in a dream. Celine was one of the most gracious people I ever met and Donna was one of the most entertaining people I ever met. She was really funny.
KW: What can we expect in the future? Along the same lines I'm aware that you sing; Will you be using your vocals on any upcoming releases?
TM: I love to sing and I do it every day as I am producing artists and guiding them through their performances. I often put songs on my DJ compilations, but I rarely release them commercially because then I do not have to worry about promoting them.
KW: Any words of wisdom for us struggling DJs/ Producers?
TM: My only word of advice is to believe in the possibilities. I am a Latino from the ghetto, no help to get me here, just faith. We exist in a time that allows us to explore our talent more easily through new technology and it is definitely worthwhile to invest in yourself and not let failure hold you back. Use it to make you stronger and more focused.