One such jock is Dino Moran, a house DJ and producer known for mixing club stompers with African rhythms. He's been leading the dance music pack out of Africa for the last sixteen years, spinning on the continent and as far away as Sydney, Ibiza, London and New York. Pete Tong and Danny Rampling have given props. He's even spun for Nelson Mandela.
Moran is also one of the growing breed of dance producers in South Africa using analog machines, live instruments and the rhythms of Africa to create their own contemporary dance music. But we're not talking world music here - Moran's first release 'Cheza' popped up on a compilation from UK house major Defected. So how does a young guy in SA hook into electronic music? RA talks to Dino Moran.
Where did you play this weekend? How were the gigs? Any stories to tell?
Last Friday I played at a club in Mozambique called Mambo. After a complete nightmare of a flight which involved an emergency pit stop in Johannesburg to check "the burning smell in the cockpit", I played a seven-hour set that started with a live set by my new five-piece Afrofunk group called Gumba Fire. It was a street party with 1800 people to celebrate the clubs fourth birthday. It’s the start of summer in Africa so it was the perfect night, about 30 degrees, and everyone was wearing very little. It was a very special event for me as I played the opening night four years ago. Even though I live in Cape Town I was born in Maputo and try to keep involved in the local scene. My father lives there so it’s great to see him whenever I play there, which this year has been every other month.
Then, on absolutely no sleep, I flew to Johannesburg to play another birthday party at a club called Aruba Lounge where I have a monthly residency. It's an intimate little club with a killer sound system and a super up-for-it, no-attitude crowd. Then I flew back to Cape Town to mix my radio show.
How did you become interested in electronic music?
Not sure how or when I discovered electronic music. I guess it was breakdancing at age thirteen that first got me into dance culture. But I've always been interested in eighties groups like Depeche Mode, Georgio Moroder, Art of Noise, Yello and Jean Michael Jarre. The truth is I've always been into electronic music and its evolution. The strange thing is that electronic music and the desire to produce has lead me to learn about traditional band based music especially jazz and world music.
What was the first record you bought to DJ with?
I've never used records. Myself and a friend crudely modified a home CD player so it had speed control in the late eighties. Before that I played on cassette decks at high school parties so I can’t really say what that first record was. I have always collected music to make people dance.
What kind of music do you play? What characteristics does a record need to have to make it into Dino Moran's CD folder?
I play many styles and moods of house but there are definitely tracks which are more me than others. It’s very hard to pinpoint what exactly grabs me about music that I love but more often than not it has roots in an ethnic or black sound. For example, I love tribal, dub, Latin, Afro stuff.
Who are your top five producers of the moment?
Some of the producers I like are Jethro East, Raul Rincon, Tiger Stripes, Claude Monett, Kevin Sunray, Sumo, Jupiter Ace, Mark Knight, and Shik Stylko.
Many DJs and labels and are using MySpace to build a like-minded electronic music community of artists, promoters and dance fans. Is the same thing happening in South Africa? Is there a strong electronic music community in each of the various cities?
The new school electronic music scene is absolutely cooking here at the moment. There are lots of super fresh sounds and new labels especially in the genres of house, drum'n'bass and psytrance. Big releases are becoming more regular and we're earning respect for our own styles. And yes, we are also using MySpace and digital download sites to promote ourselves.
Your track 'Cheza' appeared on a 'Defected in the House' compilation back in 2003. Some new remixes of that single also appeared last year. Do you have any releases coming out in the near future?
Actually, since then I have been regularly producing and releasing tracks on labels in South Africa. I co-produced 'Cheza' with a good friend of mine Jethro, who is also one of my favorite producers. He had many years of producing behind him at the time but since he moved back to London I have spent a lot of time developing my own sound. I'm content with eclectic smaller releases that allow me to experiment. I make everything from acid jazz to electro breaks. I'm also fascinated with how Afro culture can be fused with cutting edge new dance sounds.
In the past you've played for Nelson Mandela. You've also produced music for the South African musical 'The House of the Holy Afro'. How does Africa and its many cultures influence or inspire you as a DJ and musician?
Everything about the way I play and produce is influenced by our culture. I believe this continent is the root of all music, and it has been overlooked for years. It isn’t only world music fanatics and beatniks that should be exposed to the hypnotic tribal rhythms and uplifting chants of Africa. If packaged correctly Africa can make the most powerful, infectious trance-inducing dance party.
I am also really interested in all the hybrid sounds coming out of Africa like the Afro Latino of Mocambique and Angola, the Afro Arabic sounds of Morocco and Egypt and the Afro French from the Congo. By playing them together you can really go on a pan African musical safari that I find really brings out people's most primal need to dance.
You play in both Johannesburg and Cape Town. How do the crowds, venues and sounds in the two cities differ?
The sounds of both cities change like the seasons so it’s really hard to point out the differences. Also there are many different scenes in each of the cities. I believe that having a broad knowledge and love for all styles, doing your homework on each venue and paying serious attention to the floor no matter where you are is the answer.
South Africa's main clubbing season is November to April. How do you spend the quieter clubbing months? What do you do when you're not making music or DJing to relax?
I love sailing and windsurfing. That's one of the reasons that I live in Cape Town as you can sail all year round and the waves, wind and seas are hardcore. It's becoming more and more difficult to find the time though as it's not really true that we have a season from Nov to April. The tourist clubbing season is then but year round there are locals going out and the clubs still cook. In the winter months I play abroad a lot and produce. I also have my radio show every week so things are never really quiet.
This Thursday you're playing at the Global Breakthrough launch party in London. Your trip is being funded by the Global Breakthrough Music Trust which is aimed at helping emerging South African musicians. Can you recommend another South African DJ or musician who you think could also benefit from this fund?
Lots and lots of the guys here are worthy of the trip and exposure. It's struggle to single any one person out because it would be unfair to the others. I'm just really glad that I have this opportunity. All the top DJs from South Africa play in Europe or the US at least once a year and are well received, but we normally have to self initiate and fund these tours. It’s a really nice change that Global Breakhrough are interested in developing new talent. It can only be healthy for the global dance scene.
Finally, do you have any other DJ dates planned in the UK or elsewhere in Europe?
I have offers from Australia, the US and the Far East at the moment but my diary is luckily full until February in Africa. So they will be after Easter next year. It's also summer here until then so there is nowhere in the world that I would rather be.
Dino Moran plays the Global Breakthrough launch party at The Key, London on Thursday, November 9, 2006.
RA is an official Global Breakthrough media partner. Keep watching this space for further line-up announcements or sign up to the Global Breakthrough newsletter to get the latest updates. Check the Travel and Ticket sections of the Global Breakthrough website for details about flights, villa and ticket options.