CLUBS / Mix blessings: David Morales began by messing around with records in his bedroom. Now he mixes it with the best, as he tells James Style

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The Independent Culture
David Morales is the king. Right now he's top of the pile.' So says Jim Masters, director of the Ministry of Sound. He should know: in three years the Ministry has established itself as the most important nightclub in Europe.

It's four in the morning and Morales is about to get behind the decks. He steps into the booth and a huge roar goes up. There's upwards of 2,000 hot and sweaty party people, who have paid pounds 15 to hear the master play. It's his 32nd birthday and he has flown over from New York to celebrate it at the Ministry. 'This place is the closest thing to home, it feels so natural to be here.' And there he stays, playing non-stop garage, until nine in the morning.

As a DJ, Morales' pedigree is purer than the Queen's corgis. A native of Brooklyn, he grew up in the disco era. He got his break when a friend of his sister got him the gig as the warm-up DJ for Village People. Now he commands fees higher than any other DJ in the world. One source reckons it could be as much as pounds 5,000, but certainly more than pounds 2,000, per night.

By the age of 19 he had already established himself as a prominent club DJ. 'I was hustling and promoting my own parties. I had access to a great space in Brooklyn and word spread. Before I knew it, people were coming from all over to hear me play, you know, outta state, the other boroughs.' But it was his time at another club that signalled he had really arrived.

The Paradise Garage has legendary status in the annals of clubland. Here, with Larry Levan, Morales created a compulsively danceable beat which was the forebear of the modern house sound. Sadly, the Garage became a victim of its own success and when the disco bubble burst, it went with it. It was time for Morales to move on.

He kept DJing but added another string to his bow. Instead of just playing other people's records, he started to make his own. When he heard a record he liked but knew the beat was not right for a club, he'd keep the vocals but change the beat - what is now called remixing. Morales has managed to brilliantly blur the line between DJ and remixer. The reason why people rush to the Ministry to hear his set is they know they will hear music only he has access to. He's either made it, or been given the exclusive by fellow producers or leading singers. 'When David DJs, you know you'll hear something new, something different,' says one raver, taking a breather away from the Ministry's famous sound system.

Remixers are hired guns; employed by record companies to breathe life into other people's music; they live or die by their commercial success. In this highly competitive field, Morales is number one. In fact, Morales is so successful that he changed record company policy. Previously remixers received a fee for their work, rumoured in Morales's case to be upwards of dollars 20,000, but no royalties from the profits. That all went to the bands. But with Morales having hit after hit, it became quite obvious that he was the one making the hits, not the bands. 'I realised I would have to fight for my royalties. Now I call my work reproductions, rather than remixes, and record companies don't feel so bad about paying me properly.' He's worked for Mariah Carey, C C Peniston and Luther Vandross. It was Morales who made Shabba Ranks a commercially successful artist; he mixed 'Mr Loverman' and 'Housecall', both worldwide hits. According to Masters, 'Almost every record he touches becomes an instant club anthem'.

The Ministry of Sound, 10pm- 9am Fri-Sat, 103 Gaunt St, SE1

(Photograph omitted)

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