Omar Morto puts nostalgia and emotion into his music - Photography by  - Alan Serenge
Photography by Alan Serenge

Omar Morto puts nostalgia and emotion into his music

Cape Town-based producer and co-founder of the label Capeclub, Andriques Petersen, better known as Omar Morto, started his musical journey jamming with friends which grew into a band. Thanks to different tastes and ideas in the group, as well as an increasing interest in dance music-influenced metalcore bands such as Enter Shikari, Attack Attack! and The Bravery, Omar Morto started experimenting with production. A move to Johannesburg around 2011 saw him focus on production even more. “When I moved up I was in isolation. That was pretty much the time that I started and started being interested in specifically dubstep because it had the same kind of darkness and emotional qualities that I felt when I listened to metal.”

His first project, The Dead Sea saw him release his debut EP entitled ‘Little Dinosaur’, a reference to his first son who was born around that time. “As the legend of the Dead Sea grew so did my ego and my lack of remorse for the things that I did while I was out partying. After he was born I decided I needed a clean break. I started Omar Morto. The name is just a Portuguese translation of The Dead Sea that I smooshed into being a first and a last name.”

Initially a duo, Omar Morto released their first track, “Moonlight Night”, in 2015. After the split, the sound of Omar Morto moved on from synthesizer-heavy, percussion focused music to a more nostalgic sound. “I realised that, if you listen to the Wanted EP last year, every single track is a different genre. My music making is a constant cycle of introspection and looking back at where I come from. I come from a home where jazz, disco and funk were the things that we listen to in the house. A lot of that stuff along with the intensity of the stuff that I like which is metalcore and deathcore, all of that stuff just smooshes together. Now I wanna have fun, I wanna be able to rid myself of the shackles of needing to be intense and emotional all the time. The last two/three songs that I released, Under the Sun, Cruise Control, My Body, all of them are a joyous celebration of something. At the same time very nostalgic. I don’t know why it’s so important to me but growing up the way that I did there were a lot of happy moments during my early years and I suppose a lot of the styles that were around back then just make me feel happy.”

His most recent releases are collaborations with Sage Hitomi and Josh Hector. “Sage Hitomi used to be part of a duo called Fresh Sage back in the day. We weren’t close when Omar Morto started but we played together on the same lineups often back in the old Assembly days, when they used to have the parties in the annex. We didn’t chat much but the moment that he moved to Gauteng that’s when we started clicking. He’s been a producer that I’ve admired for the longest time and one of South Africa’s most underrated producers.” With Josh Hector having assisted him on his Wanted EP, the most recent Josh Hector releases saw Omar Morto help add some punch to the track. “My music is very dense and he helped me simplify it. In return with this track coming up I’ve helped him make it feel a bit bigger.”

His first live show, ‘Omar Morto and Friends’, sees him performing with a number of his collaborators including Dani Bagel, Hello Vinegar, Albany Lore, Miss Patty Monroe, Parabyl & TZARA and Chesré Steyn. “The people that are performing are my favourite people. That’s why it’s called Omar Morto and friends.”

Hoping to play more live shows and to keep producing a variety of music without being bound to a genre, Omar Morto says that “the intention is to always convey some kind of emotion” in the music that he creates.

Listen to Sage Hitomi’s “Accident” (feat. Omar Morto) and Josh Hector’s “You” (feat. Omar Morto).

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