Sin Morera has worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry, and while many would simply revere them, he has taken his moments with them as life lessons and made a career from them. Names like David Morales and Shep Pettibone hold weight in the music industry, and Morera is more than poised to continue on the path that these legends helped pave. I spoke with him as he returned from the final Life Ball in Vienna, and he talked with me about what a captivating experience it was to be a part of the final event, gave me a lesson on how this fabulous HIV/AIDS event came to be, and we dove into his own career, both past and future. He also shared with me the most stunning way that Life Ball was capped off, complete with a very familiar song to our community.
Michael Cook: You headed back to Life Ball this year and we hear it was the last Life Ball after twenty six years? What does it feel like to have returned? To have played the last dance with legend and icon grammy award winning DJ David Morales must have been an honor!?
Sin Morera: Returning to the Life Ball in Vienna on June 6th 2019 this year marked close to ten years of me being part of such an incredible non profit organization that was founded by Gary Kesler. This benefit helps both children and people living with HIV/AIDS. Many years back, I met met Gery Keszler the CEO at a pre-Life Ball party at Ian Reisner’s home on Central Park South. The rest as they say, is history. He loved my Jennifer Lopez remix that I had done, but it never made out to the public. I did though, build a great relationship with him and can completely relate to his vision.
MC: So tell me about Life Ball as a whole. What is the mission statement behind it and what did it mean to you to be part of such an amazing event?
SM: Life Ball is one of the biggest and most spectacular annual charity events in the world. It has attracted strong international interest and attention. The main priority of the Life Ball is not only the exuberant celebration of the people partying or spectacular live acts, but the ongoing fight against AIDS.
MC: How does the event hold onto it’s meaning, even with the amount of celebrity that it attracts?
SM: To ensure that the meaning of this major event is not forgotten, the opening ceremony on Vienna’s City Hall square includes moments of silence and speeches by international stars and partners, which focus on raising awareness for AIDS. Since the establishment of this society highlight, which has become a real tradition, numerous celebrities (designers, actors, musicians, politicians, and models) show their personal commitment to the issue with breathtaking live performances, sending a strong signal of solidarity. They make use of their popularity and position as role models for a good cause. I do it because I love to help people. I have been blessed to remain HIV negative, despite all of the fucked up things that I did when I was younger. Let’s just say, I was a good boy with a dark side…well kinda good (laughs).
MC: You have gotten to spend some time with some amazing celebrities during this event, including Patti LaBelle! What was it like to spend time with this living legend?
SM: Organizer and founder Gery Keszler is the “face” and engine of the Life Ball. It is also mainly his achievement that fashion representatives and celebrities of the entertainment industry such as Roseanne Barr, Elton John, Catherine Deneuve, Liza Minnelli, Sharon Stone, Dita von Teese, Anastacia, Heidi Klum, Naomi Campbell and Jenna Jameson, Paris Jackson and Patti LaBelle attend the opening show. Some of these people play an active role in the event’s program, while others just enjoy the party and celebrate. Gery Keszler chose the Vienna City Hall as the venue because he found it had great symbolic value. He felt that it should be part of the Viennese ball tradition, but be more provocative and glamorous.
He was given the opportunity to present his project to then mayor Helmut Zilk. Zilk was convinced of the positive effect of the event and gave it a try. He agreed to let Keszler have the festival hall in the Vienna City Hall and supported him, despite all opposition. Zilk’s stance was remarkable, as support for this cause was not something that could be taken for granted at that time. There were also doubts as to whether the event would really be a success. For Keszler it was exciting and nerve-wrecking until the opening, because the first guests arrived really late.
MC: When did the first Life Ball actually take place?
SM: The first Life Ball took place on May 29, 1993. In addition to the Vienna city administration, the event had only two sponsors. The ATS 1,100,000 (EUR 79,940) raised by the first Ball were donated to the non-profit organization AIDS LIFE, which was founded by Gery Keszler and Torgom Petrosian in 1992, to support other organizations helping people who are HIV-positive or have AIDS. Ever since the first Life Ball, a fashion show and presented at that time by Thierry Mugler, has become a key feature of the event.
In the second year, at the Life Ball on May 28, 1994, the money raised through donations, sponsoring and ticket sales was doubled. The first two Balls were covered by TV stations in Austria and Germany. The third Ball on May 6, 1995, already attracted interest from French and Spanish broadcasters as well as MTV. In the subsequent years, the number of guests attending the opening show and the Ball as well as the number of journalists, radio stations, print media articles and sponsors rose steadily. This also increased the funds raised by the Life Ball to be donated to AIDS projects and research. In 1999, the Vienna City Hall was renovated and the Ball took place in the Hofburg Palace!
MC: Take me back; how did you get into the world of DJ’ing? Who are your own earliest influences
SM: Growing up in the hood, I was like a gypsy. My grandma took me all over the place from Peru, Queens, Paterson, New Jersey, Newark and Passaic. These streets were rough as hell; there was not a day that went by that I fought, they waited for me after school everyday, sometimes there were four or five guys waiting for me. So I would run out the back door of my school, but was bullied so it made me who I am today a rough homeboy that will not put up with bullshit. Through great friends and therapy and music, I have changed but the fire and passion remain very deep inside of me like a scar. We all have a story and a struggle, I am not afraid to talk about it; I am not the same man I was yesterday. Music is my world, writing, producing, and DJ’ing. I owe my life to my grandma she was the first human being that bought me my vinyl and it was my first Madonna record with Shep Pettibone’s name on it, along with Junior Vasquez. Those two guys were my heroes, my therapists when I couldn’t afford one. Sound factory was my sanctuary !
MC: You started as a scrappy young guy and now you have become a mentor to others; who are you loving right now that is coming up in the industry? What advice to you have to impart to the younger guys and girls just coming up?
SM: My whole direction has changed. I am not afraid to admit that I don’t play circuit music any longer, and that did come with a cost. Playing that sound was painful for me. It sounds like noise; how many times can these new kids sample a Tony Moran or Rosabel loop? I mean, that scene is dying; that’s just my opinion. My advice to these kids is that take your time and create something that’s your own; don’t be lazy and sample Peter and Junior etc. Just talking about it is tired! I decided to go work with the Grammy bunch, Roger Sanchez, David Morales and Patti Labelle. Not bad I guess…
MC: What projects do you have on deck that you can talk about? What draws you to a project and makes you want to put your patented Sin Morera
stamp on them?
SM: I am in talks with Patti LaBelle on a secret project, this will take some time. My new compilation with Roger Sanchez drops this summer on his imprint Undr the Radr. He’s releasing an A-side and a B- Side, with other amazing artist on the bill. My partner A.S.R has been very patient with my move, as I am now living in both Austin Texas and New York City. I just sat down with music journalist for an interview with Larry Flick on Sirius XM radio. I have my new residency in Austin Texas every Friday night kicking off in July called House Music Sessions. It’s at an intimate space called Moonfire, a great lounge in downtown Austin.
MC: With the world of DJ’ing changing so much and so quickly, how do you keep it fresh?
SM Listen and hang out with the young, they know what’s best. I do my homework and listen to other guys like Black Coffee, Diplo and many more..
MC: What gives you the most pride as you continue to create new and fresh music for the masses
SM: I’ve been in the same room with Madonna, Prince, Janet Jackson, Mary J Blige, Patti LaBelle and beyond. It’s truly an honor when I think back…
MC: How does someone with as busy a life as you find time to carve out a personal life? What kind of guys do you find yourself gravitating towards?
SM: I am married to my music, the rest comes second. In this day and age of Scruff and other apps, I don’t have time for games. Nor the drama that follows it. It’s all noise to me. He will have to have his shit together, have a job, be secure and have a life of his own. I am not looking; If it happens, it happens. I am pretty happy being single.
MC: The LGBT community has had a challenging year. What do you think your role is in speaking out for the community through your music?
SM: Music is universal, so I don’t plan a specific sound or genre when am sitting in the lab , I just follow my feelings my gut and I create. The LGBT community used to be the trendsetters, but this is no longer the case. I sit with David Morales, Junior Vasquez, Roger Sanchez and I listen to their advice. I am doing it, I am making moves. I guess the lucky man will see the world with me one day he just has to have the balls to stick around.
(All Art Courtesy of Sin Morera)