Super-DJ Tony Moran is gonna make you wet at Pride Pool Party
SCOTT HUFFMAN | Contributing Writer
As a producer and two-time Grammy-nominated remixer, superstar Tony Moran collaborates artistically with the cream of the musical crop. As an in-demand DJ, Moran headlines circuit parties and Pride events around the world. Did you know, though, that the globetrotting mix master and native New Yorker calls Dallas a part-time home?
“I travel there as much as possible,” Moran, whose partner lives in Uptown, says. “I’m going to be in Dallas the week leading up to [Pride] because it is one of my homes. You will find me occasionally in S4 or the restaurants. I just ate at Dish, like, two weeks ago. I love Hunky’s. I love Lucky’s.”
Moran, who earned his first two gold records by the age of 23, has worked with a number of mainstream pop divas including Cher, Gloria Estefan and Donna Summer. He considers gay-favorites like Martha Wash, Debby Holiday and Kristine W his extended family. However, the veteran DJ bristles at the sobriquet “legend.”
“I get kind of embarrassed getting called that all the time,” Moran says. “What does that mean? I’m alive! But I appreciate the term as being respectful. [My fans’] attachments to me are that I’ve been making music since the Cover Girls. They’ve gone through all these evolutions with me.”
Moran promises his signature spinning style will energize the crowd when he headlines Saturday’s Shine pool party, a Purple Foundation event at Sisu Uptown. The chart-topping DJ will drop “Free People,” his latest Billboard No. 1 single with diva Martha Wash, into the mix. He also teases that he has more new ear candy in store.
“I’ve got like four new songs that I want to debut,” Moran says. “I don’t want to share yet. I want it to be a surprise. I’ve only been able to play them over the last couple of weeks as I’ve finished each one of them. We’re trying to finish something now to be ready for Dallas.”
Moran is excited to help North Texans celebrate gay Pride in this history year. In light of the landmark Supreme Court decision giving everyone the right to marry, this year’s celebration is particularly special.
“Pride is joyous by nature,” Moran says. “We are proud of ourselves because we are now acknowledged. We have the choice to be individual and unique and expressive — sometimes over-the-top and sometimes conservative. We have the right to do what other people have always had the right to do. That’s why people get so excited about it. They are celebrating all around each other being happy in their own skin.”
Moran also notes that Pride is a time for divisions within the LGBT community to come together. And he is pleased that music is often a common ground to facilitate unity.
“It does get kind of weird sometimes with the different factions of the gay world,” he says. “Not everybody finds everybody fierce. [During Pride] everybody lets that wall down just enough. If the music and the DJ is giving it to you, you are knocking buildings down. You are knocking cities down.”
Despite the SCOTUS ruling, Moran has yet to be asked to spin tunes at a gay wedding. And he’s not sure he would want to take on the task. His feels his particular skill set is different than that of the typical wedding DJ.
“It’s a totally different level of art,” he says. “You have to keep people energized by things that are totally familiar. You have to bang in and bang out. And I’m a slow fuck. I’m gonna take my time, and you are gonna like it.”
When he is not logging frequent flier miles or entertaining throngs of revelers, Moran is often in his home studio. Lately, he has focused energy on his first love, that of original production. Rather than remixing the works of others, Moran is enjoying the challenge of writing his own lyrics and creating his own sounds.
“Remixing is something that I’ve taken a couple steps back from, though I’ve enjoyed every mix,” he says. “I love writing, and I love producing. I love working on my own songs. I’d rather create a new painting than a replica.”
During his career, Moran has enjoyed working with many musical greats, but he admits there are few artists who remain on his production wish list. Male vocalists George Michael and Seal are at the top of it. And, naturally, he would love an opportunity to produce music for the Material Girl.
“Madonna I would love to produce any day of the week,” he enthuses. “If she called me during my own wedding — which I have not been asked yet — I would be like, ‘You’ve got to wait a second everybody!’ So let’s just hope it doesn’t happen on that day.”
Rest assured, though, that Moran will continue tapping the reserves in his current collaborative relationships as well. Take, for example, his successful partnering with powerhouse vocalist Martha Wash.
“Martha and I, we look out for each other,” Moran says. “When our names are back to back on a record, we’ve hit No. 1 two times in a row. I’m looking forward to future ones.”
Moran’s relationship with Wash is not limited to the recording studio, either. The two are pals who sometimes hang out after hours.
“I took her to go see Kinky Boots,” he says. “I happen to be friends with Billy Porter [who originated the role of Lola on Broadway … and won a Tony for his efforts]. I’m a New Yorker, so I happen just to be in that group of people. I loved being there with her. People are saying, ‘Is that Martha Wash?’ I see Martha Wash glowing and blushing. People whisper thinking they are far enough away that she can’t hear it.”
While he may call many celebrities friends, Moran — who has five brothers and sisters — is also well-grounded. He attempts to live by words of wisdom that renowned music producer David Foster gave him early in his career.
“David was basically like, ‘Remain calm. At all times, when you are producing someone, keep it together,’” he says. “I haven’t, you know, done it 100 percent of the time. I’m human, just like anyone else. But I try to keep my wits together.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 18, 2015.