I hope all of you enjoy the new look of AudibleTherapy.com. Its taken weeks to complete and I’ve got to give a shout to my buddy Tuan Hyunh for providing the direction and technical know-how on this entire redesign. We’ve tried to put the most pertinent information up front, provide my personal monthly top10, and make archived posts easier to find.
And to lead off our new design, it’s probably an appropriate time to talk about reinvention. You may or may not know who Roger Federer and/or Erick Morillo are. Roger Federer is the world’s greatest professional tennis player and Erick Morillo is the world’s greatest DJ. The “greatest” tag is obviously of my own opinion (anyone who knows me well knows that I’m a huge – and extremely biased fan – of both), but titles aside, what do these guys have to do with each other?
In many ways, both of these professionals have reached the pinnacle of their careers. Roger has broken records, developed superb technical skill, and gained the respect of not only his peers, but also the tennis legends that precede him. Erick, when it comes to house music, has done many of the same things. They’re the best at what they do. The cream of the crop. So what can we can all learn from two great personalities in two very different fields?
To put it simply, that even the best of the best need to re-invent themselves.
Roger Federer is 29 years old. A veteran on the professional tennis circuit (29 is considered over the hill in tennis years), he’s heralded by many as a candidate to the title “Greatest of All Time” (GOAT) because of stats like match/win percentage, career titles, and number of majors won. He’s considered a technical mastermind, being able to bomb or drop shots all over the court. There are also more qualitative reasons why he’s considered the GOAT. His style of play is fluid, precise, and aggressive all at the same time. He fights a quiet, strategic war with all of his opponents and never seems to exert much effort in doing so. In short, he makes it look easy.
Up until about year ago, Roger continued with his winning ways. Suddenly he started to lose to opponents he used to clobber before. He started getting eliminated in earlier rounds at tournaments and majors. For the great player that Federer is, he still has his flaws. On the technical side, his one-handed backhand (vs. the more widely used two-hander) does not hold up well to the big power players of today’s tennis game. Many say he’s lost that all-important first step, a crucial element for any sport at the competitive level. On the intangibles, Federer seems to lose concentration at crucial, clutch moments. These factors have all contributed to his inevitable decline from earlier in his career.
So what does a guy who has broken all the records and is considered by many to be the GOAT do when he starts to be overtaken by the newer generation? Well let’s draw another parallel to another veteran in another industry.
Erick Morillo is 40 years old. He’s been in the music business for over 25 years. He’s earned the respect of producers and musicians both inside (Carl Craig, Louie Vega) and outside (Diddy, will.I.am) of the house music world. He’s the owner and head honcho of the legendary Subliminal Records label, one of the go-to labels for big room, party house. On a technical level, Erick is a magician behind the CDJs. He effortlessly works 4 CDJs, while incorporating loop-based effects, acapellas, and liberal use of filters to create live remixes. His live performances are truly something to behold. With so many samples, tracks, and effects layered one over each other its truly the definition of precisely organized chaos. And just like Roger Federer, Erick Morillo makes it look easy.
House music blew up and began its movement into the mainstream in 2006. Increased popularity in anything undoubtedly invites more creators of content. With the increasing popularity of big room house DJs and producers like the Swedish House Mafia, Laidback Luke, and Dirty South, Erick undoubtedly had other guys to come in to take his spot at the top of the scene.
Now, don’t get the impression that house music is this huge competition to be at the top of the scene and to dominate everyone. It’s more so about turning new people onto your music. As time goes on, taste in music changes and it’s the artists that are able to adapt to the changing musical tastes, yet still stay true to their own unique style that are the veterans in the industry. Through the years Erick’s Subliminal Sessions compilations have been mediums through which he interprets the current musical tastes, yet in his own distinctive style. A personal favorite was Subliminal Sessions 11, released in 2007, during the surge in popularity around the electro house sound. The mix is undoubtedly electro, but it still incorporates the funky, sexy, yet dark and dirty tribal sound that Erick is known for. Add in Erick’s special touch and you’ve got a mix that is trendy, yet timeless.
So what has Erick done to keep up with the new fans, find new fans, and keep his interpretation of house music alive? He’s quite simply re-invented himself.
In the past year, he’s revived Subliminal Records with huge, vocal drenched, big room hits. He’s also resurrected and given more visibility to the Bambossa, Sondos, and Subusa labels, effectively incorporating them into the Subliminal family. Subliminal has also found new talent to fit its updated structure. From the new “Queen of House Music” Shawnee Taylor to the down, dark and dirty tech producer Antranig, the Subliminal Records label has seen a resurgence in its popularity. Erick has simply refreshed his music and the people supporting it to stay with the next evolution of the scene.
Let’s not forget that Erick probably has millions of dollars, palatial mansions across the world, and could retire at 40, but he’s chosen to re-invent the way he does music. How about that? A legend in the business who decided to change it up, hit the refresh button, and most importantly, not quit. It just goes to show that no matter how good you think you are, or hell, how good the world thinks you are, there’s always room for change and growth.
Professional sports and music probably don’t match up that well on the surface, but in so many ways, Federer is at crossroads in his kingdom, just like Erick was. Its easy to go away and retire… near the top, but guys who obviously have a love, passion, appreciation, whatever you want to call it, for their trade can always change the way they do things as long as that passion is still there. So Roger, maybe change it up, refresh yourself, find another way and maybe we’ll see a few for majors out of you.
This is something that we can all learn ourselves. There’s always a need to change your viewpoint on your trade or craft. Its important to re-evaluate things when things are going poorly, but more importantly, it takes a lot of foresight to re-evaluate things when they’re going well. The whole concept of re-inventing excellence seems paradoxical and contradictory. Why mess with something that works? When you’ve seemingly reached the top of something and there seems to be nowhere else to go, that’s exactly when one needs to find somewhere ELSE to go.
And that’s what’s inspiring about people like Roger Federer or Erick Morillo, that they show you that even they need to re-invent themselves. They exude excellence, but even the greats need a refresh. So whoever your Roger Federer or Erick Morillo may be always understand the importance of re-inventing excellence.