Omar Morto shares a mix filled with Future Funk, City Pop and throwback tunes to when sampling was the Wild West in dance music
A decade after taking his first steps into the world of music as the frontman for Cape Town band Fingers In The Sky, Omar Morto is having the best year of his career as a producer.
In the first half of 2018 alone he became the first African artist to ever premiere on YouTube super-channel The Sound You Need with his track 'Under The Sun', as well as a premiere on Vaporwave & Future Funk channel Artzie Music for his Future Funk remake of Eddie Holman's 'It's Over': 'Your Voice'. This followed on from premieres on EDM.com, releases through Club Music heavyweights Too Lush, and European mega-label Heroic Recordings.
The last twelve months also saw his first commercial radio play-listings with the Sloani assisted 'Sucker', and his collaboration with R&B powerhouse Janice: 'I Don't Mind'. As a radio producer and presenter at Cape Town's Good Hope FM Omar was instrumental in premiering more than 150 artists through his Finding the Hype campaign at the station. In 2017 he was nominated for a Liberty SA Radio Award for his efforts to assist up and coming artists.
Further cementing his desire to help artists find their feet, Omar Morto established his own label imprint, [capeclub], in 2017 as a means to assist artists on the fringes of South Africa's dance music scene. Through his involvement with the label he's been instrumental in the creation and release of FAKA's Amaqhawe EP which saw features in The Fader and The Mail & Guardian.
His latest EP Wanted is what he calls a 'love letter to anxiety and an exploration into themes of nostalgia, memory, and his battle with depression. It encompasses all of Omar's influences over the last ten years of music creation, including New Wave/Synthwave, Nu-Disco, Future Bass, and 90s Soapie themes.
Who are you and what's your sound story?
I'm Omar Morto, my real name's Ché Petersen, and I'm a music producer, radio presenter and former journalist. I started this project with the aim to create sounds I could insert my emotions into, or make someone feel something as they listen. So I draw influence from everything I've ever heard, even the bad stuff. I grew up listening to my dad's Jazz records, my mom's Afrikaans crooner music and Queen. A LOT of Queen, I credit my need to be a showman no matter the size of the room to listening to and watching Freddie Mercury in live concert videos.
How broad are your musical tastes, and what sound do you specialize in?
It's the most cliché thing ever, but I don't have limitations to my listening or my taste in music. My main time to jam out is during car trips, so on any given day, if you were a fly on the wind shield, you'd probably see me head-banging to Hatebreed or Suicide Silence, and then crooning to some Japanese City Pop like Kimiko Kasai, Taeko Ohnuki or Mariya. So it's always a toss-up, if it's interesting I'll listen to it.
The sound I specialize in isn't anything that I can define or pin down to one distinct genre, if you listen to my last EP Wanted it's pretty much a broad look at everything I've ever done musically, from my obsession with soapie theme songs to the dark sub bass sounds I fell in love with when Dubstep came around and made me defect from being a boy-in-a-band to wanting to stand behind CDJs and press buttons.
What happened with TheSoundYouNeed?
To be honest I'm not entirely sure how TheSoundYouNeed even happened. With the release of the EP scheduled to be on my birthday in April I decided to go all out on trying to snag some fun premieres for the EP. Honestly my focus was completely on 'My Body', the track I thought of as the perfect single and introduction to my more focused sound. Out of the blue the channel's manager inboxed me and asked if I'd be keen to upload 'Under The Sun', I hadn't even sent it to him, so it was an amazing and unexpected turn of events. It really was an amazing validation of what I'd been working on for the few months before the EP's release.
Tell us about [capeclub]
[capeclub] started as my misguided and naïve attempt at incubating a unique Capetonian genre. I thought, let me get a bunch of young and bright producers together and see what happens. What happened instead is that we ended up being a release platform and support group for young and promising producers in Cape Town and the rest of the country. By and large the idea was to help producers on the fringes of the various scenes that inhabit the city, they also usually happen to be people of colour. Through it we've been able to release some amazing work that's gained some really fun traction.
Tell us about your Wanted EP.
I like to refer to my music as a love letter to my anxiety. The Wanted EP came at a time where I realised I'll be turning 30 in 2019, no longer a twenty something. The realisation came with fear, anxiety, and a healthy heap of nostalgia. I figured let me channel all of this into what I enjoy doing: writing music. That's why it came out on my birthday, I thought let me not let these dark feelings get me down, you know.
What's on this mix you made us?
Going hand-in-hand with the nostalgia I've been feeling the last year or so I found what's called Future Funk music. All it really is is an update on the French Touch/House music from the late 90s and early 2000s. That's the music I really first understood as being dance music, so when I heard that these kids on the internet are reviving it but using Japanese City Pop and obscure Funk records as reference point, I fell in love. So in this mix you'll hear some Future Funk, some City Pop, some throwback tunes to when sampling was basically the Wild West in dance music.
Where should we play it?
Play it in the car, play it in the jol, play it on your phone speaker in the train. It's a vibe everywhere.