Since 1996, A-1 Records on Sixth Street has attracted countless vinyl enthusiasts to its bins of hip-hop, jazz, soul, disco, and house music. On any given afternoon, disc diggers discuss what white-label 12-inches they’re going to DJ, tossing out obscure names that are foreign even to the other die-hards flipping through the stacks.
Ron Morelli, one of the four employees at A-1, has seen dramatic changes in the city’s electronic music scene during his ten years of spinning vinyl. The DJ, whose discovery of punk and hardcore started him on his journey into underground music and culture, started the DIY dance music label, Long Island Electrical Systems, in 2009 to showcase gritty, analog-based techno and house. He’s also used L.I.E.S. as a vehicle to release his own music (along with co-conspirators Jason Letkiewicz and Steve Summers) under the moniker Two Dogs In a House.
The small-run 12” records that Mr. Morelli releases (many of which feature hand-stamped track listings on the dust jacket) feel intimate: it’s clear they’ve been lovingly assembled by hand. Early releases by Steve Moore and Professor Genius started the buzz that has collectors rushing to buy the releases before they hitDiscogs for quadruple their initial price.
Despite the sold-out events Mr. Morelli DJs in New York and Brooklyn and the label’s success in Europe, there’s a low-key presence to L.I.E.S. Rather than a lavish release party, L.I.E.S. artist Professor Genius first spun his latest 12″,“Hassan,” at Heathers Bar on a Thursday night. Recently, Mr. Morelli shared his thoughts on the changing face of New York’s electronic music scene and the state of record stores.