« February 2004 | Main | April 2004 »

Moran Heats Up Miami's Winter Party

This year's winter party dance event in South Beach has a double meaning for Tony Moran.

The veteran DJ, producer and songwriter met his partner Beau Clarke at Miami’s annual Winter Party five years ago. In addition to celebrating this anniversary, Moran will also be spinning as the main DJ at Beach Party on Sunday, March 14.

On top of this, Centaur Records releases Moran’s remix record, “Party Groove: Winter Party Vol. 7,” this Friday, which marks another important achievement for one of the best-known gay DJs.

“The Winter Party is very special to me,” Moran says. “It is a party that I have been going to for years and I have many friends there. The event has consistently delivered so much positive energy and I’m excited about playing the party at the beach.”

The part-time South Beach resident feels that the beach and the daytime itinerary make the Winter Party a very unique event.

“People that usually don’t come out at night will come to the beach event because it is in the afternoon,” he says. “This party is all about acceptance. It is like one big family. You see the young guys dancing with the more mature guys, and the muscle boys dancing with the fat guys.”

Over the past 22 years, the Brooklyn-born DJ has made a big name for himself with chart-topping production and remix work for artists like Celine Dion, Jon Secada, Cher, Janet Jackson and Gloria Estefan. More recently, he has worked in the studio with Donna Summer, Kevin Aviance, Becky Bealing and Deborah Cox.

Moran, 39, started out as a DJ in New York, but soon became involved with making records, which took time away from playing at clubs.

Over the last year, the tanned and toned celebrity has returned to the club scene to take a break from the recording studio.

“I started to get back into DJ-ing when I played Crobar in Miami last year,” says Moran. “I ended up in this enticing wave of the circuit where I get to play a lot of incredible parties and get to meet people with a lot of energy.”

Moran believes that his work as a DJ keeps him fresh as a producer and songwriter.

“DJ-ing keeps me from restricting myself,” he says. “It helps me to keep my ears open for new kinds of music. It is like working out. It helps me to stay creative to not become complacent.”

He agrees that his extensive production skills and experience influence his work as a live DJ.

“I’m very keen on the whole technical part of what I do and on how I prepare for my performance,” he explains. “I love to weave the music in a way that you don’t think, ‘Hey, what’s going on here?’ It is all about the flow of the beats and the music.”

Moran credits his drive for perfection as the reason for his success as a producer and songwriter.

“I just have a feeling of what things need to sound like in the studio,” he says. “I’m not intimidated by anybody. I’m focused on doing a great job. When I worked with Cher, I told her exactly how I wanted it to sound even if it would take her five hours to record it.”

The new winter party remix CD represents an important milestone for Moran. In the beginning of his career, Moran did not disclose his sexuality to his fans. This CD finally allows him to share his passion with his adoring gay following.

“I can finally channel my energy to give something back and show people who I am,” he says.

“Tony Moran has been such an amazing addition to our DJ/artist roster,” says Jamie Baxter, spokesperson for Centaur Records. “He puts such positive energy into his nights of spinning and his CD compilations and always offers something unique to the listener. Tony is always first and foremost concerned with the audience.”

The CD includes material by Donna Summer, Haru, JJ Flores, Latin Soul Drivers and the Alegria anthem by Moran and Ric Sena.

The friendly DJ admits that even with all his experience, he gets nervous at times before playing in a live environment.

“I’m very self-conscious about what I do and I can get really nervous before I play many of these parties,” he says. “People make a significant investment to go to parties and I have to do my best to deliver every time. I might not be the best DJ in the world. I just want to be the best I can be.”

March 12, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Spring Tune-up

Tyler Hilton is Madonna's newest protégé.

This spring is shaping up to be an exciting music season, with new releases by big-name celebrities, buzzworthy debutants and gifted musicians.

Hot off her Super Bowl performance is Janet Jackson, who recently launched her new single “Just A Little While.” The track is taken from her forthcoming album “Damita Jo” (Virgin Records).

After the controversial “wardrobe malfunction” during Super Bowl XXXVIII, Virgin Records was prompted to rush the album delivery date to take full advantage of the publicity firestorm.

On “Damita Jo,” Jackson works again with Minneapolis production duo Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, who have worked with the star ever since her breakthrough album “Control.” Jackson also spent time in Atlanta to work with local music hero Dallas Austin.

The famed writer/producer also collaborated with No Doubt singer Gwen Stefani on her upcoming solo debut.

If you mix up a little bit of John Mayer with a heavy dose of Backstreet Boys, you will likely end up with a potent pop-rock elixir called Tyler Hilton. The Californian heartthrob (not related to Paris & Co.) hits the pop scene this season on Madonna’s record label with his gay-friendly debut record “The Tracks Of” (Maverick Records).

Whoever said rock is out better think again. Bands with meaningful names such as the Hiss, the Hives, the Strokes and the White Stripes are emerging from the garage underground and slowly appearing on mainstream pop charts.

On the forefront of this movement are anti-popsters the Vines. The band from Down Under will release their sophomore album “Winning Days” (Capital Records) later this month.

JC Chasez's challenge is to make people forget about his work with N*SYNC and avoid comparisons with fellow bandmate Justin Timberlake. The battle between JC and JT appears to benefit listeners, who get a refreshing new pop sound on Chasez’ solo debut “Schizophrenic.” The singer has included sexy rhythms, ‘80s electro synths and groovy hip-hop textures.

Glideascope, a.k.a. Darryl Edwards, came up with a way to make classical music sound avant-garde on his recent EP “No String Attached.” His instrumental compositions fuse trip-hop beats with violin strings that capture an imaginative, almost cinematic quality that fit no single description.

Detroit is not only the home of the Motown Sound and Eminem, but also of young singer/songwriter Casey Stratton. His debut album “Standing At The Edge” (Sony Classical) is receiving a steady amount of buzz in the mainstream press that might propel him to be one of the breakout artists of the spring season.

Pseudo-punk star Avril Lavigne will release the follow-up to her platinum-selling “Let Go” on May 25. The album’s working title is “Under My Skin” and will reveal a rawer Lavigne. Her new single “Don’t Tell Me” has a spunky local flavor to it. The track was co-produced by Butch Walker.

Crooner Josh Zuckerman traveled to more than 15 countries over the last few years, experiences incorporated into his newest album “a totally new sensation,” due in late March. The album’s title song received the 2002 Out Music Award for Outstanding Songwriter of the Year.

Blondie makes a comeback with “The Curse of Blondie” (Sanctuary Records) on April 6. The influential ‘70s and ‘80s pop band presents their first all-new studio album since 1999.

The latest sound of Deborah Harry and company is said to be a fusion of R&B, pop, jazz and folk. The band’s publicist promises that the album will showcase “the true musicianship and expert songwriting that Blondie has demonstrated throughout their career.”

Gay club jocks Tony Moran and Junior Vasquez will release new remixes later this spring. After Sound Factory fired Vasquez, the influential DJ strikes back by showing off his undisputed remix talent on “Anthem 2” (JMV Records).

Hot-baked Miami resident Moran is back with “Winter Party 2004 – Vol. 7,” another must-have release for circuit-party connoisseurs from Centaur Records.

March 9, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (10)

Oscar Red Carpet Photos


Special correspondent and celebrity watcher Fernando Costantino took some exclusive photos for ARJANWRITES.COM at this year's Oscar red carpet ceremony. Have a unique look at all the famous celebs, including Nicole, Charlene, Sean, Elijah, Maria, Oprah, Catherine, Michael D and - of course - Joan Rivers!

Click here to view all the EXCLUSIVE Oscar photos

March 3, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Music with Balls

DJ Manny Lehman is currently the undisputed king of the DJ circuit. He is a self-proclaimed “freight train” who likes to stir up club crowds with his explosive barrage of progressive house beats.

He recently put out his new remix album “Banging 2: Progressive Beats” on Tommy Boy Records. The album features a high-velocity compilation of 15 dance remixes that have never been released before. Lehman has included tracks by Kristine W (“Save My Soul” -Gabrial & Dresden Bootleg mix), Superchumbo (“This Beat Is” - Victor Calderone Tribal mix), The Roc Project/Tina Novak (“Déjà vu” - Guido Osorio Vocal mix) and others.

How did this album come about?
I had a longtime wish to work with Tommy Boy Records. They do a great job at selling dance music on the streets. I have been in touch with them for a while and when my existing contract with Foreplay Records ended, it turned out to be the best time to move forward. It all happened really fast.

Was there an overall concept behind the album?
I wanted to make a fun, progressive sounding album that you can play when you’re working out, cleaning the house or when you have party. Not just monotonous droning, but exciting beats.

How did you come up with the track listing?
It is a Tommy Boy release, so I had a selection of Tommy Boy tracks that I could select from first. I also had a wish list of tracks that we had to license to use.

What was on your wish list that did not make it on the album?
Well of course I wanted “Milkshake” and stuff like that. We had to make a lot of fast decisions and we did not get everything that we requested. That is how it works with a lot of compilations. There is some excellent A-class material on the record though like Murk, Kristine W.

It is great to hear previously unreleased mixes of these artists…
Oh yeah. It is hot. It is a nice little twist to stuff people already know.

Is there any track on the CD that stands out for you?
I love the track “Shining” by Double Dee. It sexy, funky, jumpy. I love that one.

Is it difficult to condense a DJ gig into a record?
Yeah, that is pretty hard.

How do you do it?
Well, basically I use the same formula on a smaller scale to make sure it is still a cohesive sounding thing. So I start out hard and go up, up, up and keep building as much as I can. Then when I reach the point that you can’t build anymore I bring it down and make it sexy.

So this record basically is like a night with Manny?
You got it! A condensed version of it.

You’re the hottest DJ on the circuit right now. What is your secret to success?
I just keep it fun. I don’t take it too seriously. I’m just one of the boys playing for the boys. I’m not Beethoven, I’m not Mozart. It is all about good times.

Is it true you’re a huge Lord Of The Rings fan?
Oh yeah! I’m a humongous Lord Of The Rings fan. I think Peter Rauhofer made a Lord house mix. I want to get my hands on that so bad!

March 2, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (1)