The name Bruno Morphet is synonymous with House and Techno in South Africa and has been for over 15 years. His reputation for delivering a well crafted set has gained him the respect of his peers and a loyal following of discerning punters. Likewise his dedication to the craft and uncompromising attitude toward finding and playing the optimal track at the right moment, has led to countless appearances at clubs, events and festivals across the country. The Lost and Found is therefore proud to bring you an interview with Bruno.
Welcome to The Lost and Found. Let’s begin with a bit of personal background.
I am originally from Durban, but arrived in CT when I was 8 years old, so most of my growing up was done here, but I have a primal attachment to good old Durbs. I went to a comparatively rough inner city high school which taught me a lot about life and I studied fine art at UCT which led me to my current career choice of graphic design.
Who were your earliest musical influences?
Sorry to roll out the old DJ cliché of my dad’s record collection, but I guess that’s where my introduction began. He has a great interest in jazz of a certain era (basically everything before Miles got spaced out) and he also had quite a few seminal albums from the 60s and 70s, most notably a lot of Dylan. Later on I discovered new wave, funk and that early 80s synth sound through my sisters and friends at my primary school. We’d go to parties at peoples houses in the neighbourhood where everyone would bring an album or a seven inch single, and we’d have a mini disco, all at the tender age of about ten.
You’ve been a part of the Cape Town club scene and have seen it grow and change over time. Which clubs/events and DJ’s have been instrumental in pushing good quality Music in the city?
I’d say the first club I can recall making a really big impact on me was the Base. That was around 88/89 and hip hop was in this amazing state of creativity. In those days there was obviously no way of hearing hip hop on the radio or on tv and there was no internet, so the club was this sanctuary of futurist sound. I would go down to the matinee sessions on Saturday and climb up into the DJ box to watch Ready D at work. NWA had just dropped Straight Outta Compton and Fuck Tha Police was like a national anthem in there given the political situation of the day. Public Enemy, Eric B & Rakim, Big Daddy Kane…all these incredible records forcing a new direction in music, and forcing people to think differently.
The second club that really changed things was the short-lived Eden. It was the first place to really encapsulate the essence of the UK Summer of Love, the fusion of hip hop, indie and house music, and it led a lot of people to discover dance music that might never have considered it a viable art form. Remember that before this, most clubs in central Cape Town did not play dance music, they played radio hits, maybe a 12 inch extended mix or two, but no house music at all.
After that the Funktion was obviously the biggest influence on what I do today as a DJ, even though I never played there. Matt Buck and Phil Bartholomew had a real vision to change the status quo and they did that with tenacious focus on music policy, introducing deep house to a generation of people who now dj and listen to it (and play it to their children!) Post the Funktion, More was a massive landmark on the scene here, bringing us the first real underground international guests in the form of people like Herbert, Gemini and others, and opening peoples ears further. Most recently I’d say Fiction has done the most to shape the musical landscape of the city, putting power in the hands of the DJs to curate and establish nights that went on to make massive inroads across the city and the country.
Which 3 albums have played the greatest role in shaping your musical identity and why?
Public Enemy: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back: Utterly revolutionary, utterly uncompromising and totally devastating in impact.
808 State – Excel : The first time I heard a full album of instrumental electronic music and found myself wanting to be involved…somehow!
Jeff Mills: Live at the Liquid Room Tokyo: The greatest mix cd ever made and the reason I love techno.
What motivated you to become a DJ and tell us about your first gig?
The first time I can remember actually wanting to DJ was on the floor at the Funktion, listening to Deep C and Chris Brann of the Wamdue Project dj. They played a four hour set and there was no-one in that room that was left unchanged by the experience. I think it was the range of emotions that they were able to instill just through the skilful arrangement of records that really made me consider it. My first gig was with Nick Birkby at the Magnet in Cape Town. I wasn’t playing house music then, but I was a big fan of Gilles Peterson and that whole London, eclecto-latino jazz beard scene, so I had just come back from London with a bunch of cds of that sound and Nick in his very generous way asked me if I’d like to spin some of them at his residency. That turned into a night called Stickshift and we did that for about two years on and off. We’d play all kinds of music from tv themes to jazz, latin and house and project 8mm films on the wall of that tiny venue. It was a great time.
You’re a member of Killer Robot, originally formed around 2006. What makes the brand special and why has it been so successful?
Killer Robot came along at a time when techno was still a dirty word, having been appropriated by a raft of second rate Euro rave acts that had been pushed on the public by national broadcasters here. It was only when the sound started to regenerate in Berlin around the early to mid 2000s that it regained its stature. In Cape Town around 2006, it was also a very dark time for clubs in general. Thanks to the efforts of various cartels, a very standard, stale house sound dominated at most of the clubs in the city and people were looking for something different. Ivan and myself put together a night based on the music we loved and it was that right time, right place thing. It just clicked. Since then we’ve been lucky enough to host many of our favourite artists as guests, some a little before their time even. Not many people knew who Seth Troxler was for instance when he played for us, but no-one forgot him afterward:)
You’ve played gigs in the US and frequently DJ in Germany. What has been your favourite event/city to play and why?
I really love the times that I have played in Berlin. The crowd is always clued up and into what you are doing and theres a lot more time and scope to be creative. I’ve also had the opportunity to share back to back sessions with some of my favourite artists in a casual setting, and learning at the same time. Having said that Cape Town at the moment has so much going on, with the range of promoters that are using the beauty of the city to their advantage in putting on quality events, from rooftops to wine estates to parks and mountain rivers, I’ve had an amazing summer thanks to the efforts of these people.
Your day job affords you the opportunity to express yourself creatively. Tell us about Plan B.
Plan B is my design consultancy. I work on developing branding and identities for companies big and small and obviously I also do a fair amount of work within the club promotions circuit too. I’ve had the opportunity to develop the identities of things like the 2014 World Design Capital bid and the Cape Town Electronic Music Festival.
What inspires Bruno?
Good films, good music, the beach, the mountain and the wisdom of Don Draper.
Any advice for aspiring DJ’s hoping to build a solid reputation for themselves?
Don’t compromise, dig harder and longer than the next guy and don’t be afraid to clear the floor.
Thank You for taking the time to speak with us and for your valued contribution to the Music we love.