The label has been launched in 2010 by Ron Morelli - a music devotee and full time employee at New York's famous A-1 record store. Till today he has only released strictly vinyl records of gifted mates. Most of them are printed in small numbers and often only signed with hand-stamps. All of them received jubilant reviews around the world and DJ support without using the usual promotion merry-go-round. Morelli himself stays out of the spotlight even if the world wants to know who is in charge for releasing such fierce dance music that does not care about what is hip or hot. Stylistically the L.I.E.S. output is chameleonic: House, Acid, Techno, Industrial, synth-laden cosmic Ambient - there is no real principle when it comes to genres. Only one thing is for sure: the label is guided by the classic DIY Punk spirit. That's why the people behind the music matter only secondary. What counts is the sound and its emotions. The artists roster longs from known producers such as Jason Letkiewicz (aka Steve Summers/Malvoeaux), Legowelt, Willie Burns, Steve Moore, Maxmillion Dunbar, or Marcos Cabral to new talents like Terekke, Vapauteen, XOSAR, and Svenghalisghost. Some of them can be heard with exclusive material in our Carhartt L.I.E.S. Radio show. To accompany it we hook up with L.I.E.S. head honcho Ron Morelli during his fall 2012 Europe tour and have chatted with him about his mix, the Punk ethos of his label, and some other secrets.
Since 2010 you release vinyl records that come only with a stamp or with the label logo and some basic information about the artist and track names. You never use covers. What’s the driving force behind that image?
Ron Morelli: While I would love to have more of a strong visual presence, the truth of the matter is time and money does not allow for elaborate covers and technical artwork. I want the records to come out fast with as little production delay as possible. It is always all about the music, everything else is secondary.
Can you describe to us the inspiration behind L.I.E.S.?
Ron Morelli: As far as inspiration? Well the label started simply because friends of mine had tracks and I was working on tracks and felt like it made sense to release them ourselves rather than wait around or shop them to another label. That was the main impetus in starting the label.
When L.I.E.S. started, it was mostly a bedroom label, yet it has grown a bit bigger? You also work full time at A-1 Records. Can you describe a bit how you manage to run the label?
Ron Morelli: Do you mean how do the daily label operations go? Ok well, it happens something like this....wake up around 9am, take a piss, look in the mirror, cry for half an hour, get myself together, go downstairs and get a coffee, look at my emails, then cry again, this time for only 10 minutes as opposed to the first cry of the morning which was half an hour. Then I start tackling the emails. Depending on where I'm at before the emails start I might write out a "to do list" that might sound corny but its the only way I can really focus and keep track of what needs to get done for the week. Depending what day of the week it is and where I'm at with certain projects I might have to go to the pressing plant at some point in the day to pick up records or test presses or whatever. I end up going to the pressing plant a lot, sometimes four times a month or more. Its annoying but it has to get done. If i'm not going to the pressing plant I'm just doing office work essentially...invoicing people, scheduling pick ups, talking to the mastering guy, talking to the art guy, uploading files, sending out press promo, and everything in-between. Again it's just office work, but for a worthy cause. Then, I look at the clock and rush out the door to the job that actually pays my rent, which is working at A1 Records.
Do you think that New York has a strong influence on your work as a producer, DJ, and label operator?
Ron Morelli: Yeah I do think that New York has a strong influence. Being here makes me think a lot and makes me ultra critical of everything around me, myself included. There are a lot of people in the city doing a lot of things and to me most of it is quite uninteresting for a city with such a large reputation that is soley based on its past history. People say New York was this and New York was that...but to me the past is the past it is history and that is that. When you step back and look at it now it's quite weak on all levels....quality of life, politics, arts, community, how people carry themselves...I really see it as pretty unexciting for the most part. I mean the people I care about are here, but that is a drop in the pond. And of course every once in a while there is some magic. But when you step back and look at it and say, I am going to be able to survive here in 2 years or 5 years because of how things are going, the answer is pretty much no, at least for myself. So to make a long story short, I feel like there is gun to my head and at any moment the trigger could be pulled. So basically for me it's do as much as humanly possible before your time is up and thats how New York has shaped what I do. There is a morbid sense of urgency.
What exciting new stuff do you have in the pipeline?
Do you have a "wish list" of musicians you'd like to see on L.I.E.S.?
Ron Morelli: No. I am very content working with all the artists on the label and will continue to expand and build with them.
What was your biggest seller so far?
How did you select the tracks for your Carhartt Radio show?
Ron Morelli: I wanted to give the listeners a taste of where the label is going in the next year. This is not a conventional DJ mix but a selection of exclusive tracks, many heard here for the first time, many experimental that are at home listening tracks as opposed to a mix full of L.I.E.S. dance tracks.
What is your musical background?
Ron Morelli: I'm a product of the 80s... Rap, Metal, Punk, Hardcore, Classic Rock, Glam Rock, the oldies, freestyle, New Wave, everything that was happening.
How do you think your generation is going to leave its mark on music?
Ron Morelli: Well the last recognized movements of my generation which were co-opted into mainstream society would be Hip Hop and Punkrock, I think.
What is your favorite music video of all time?
Ron Morelli: Van Halen - Hot for Teacher... also Van Halen - California Girls - is pretty dope too. Man Without Hats - Safety Dance always sticks out in my head cause they had those weird midgets with flutes dancing around being creepy. I really thought all of England was like that as a kid. I also like that The Cars - You might think video where they're on the chicks face climbing up her nose and what not.
What ethos / motto do you try to live your life by?
Ron Morelli: Treat others as you would like to be treated.
Do you have any idols when it comes to music?
You are located in New York. What are your favorite spots and secrets in your hometown that you would recommend to somebody that comes around for a visit?
Ron Morelli: Don't come to New York, go somewhere with palm trees like Hawaii or even L.A..