The Morph-tet

Franco Proietti on the Morph-Tet and KRS

Exclamations is the new record by the Morph-tet, which is still led by Franco Proietti, but not in name.

The Morph-tet

The Morph-tet

Four albums in, and after nearly six years of line-up changes, stylistic turns and shows, shows, shows, Franco Proietti is giving up the funk — to his band, that is.

The alto sax man, who dabbles as a multi-instrumentalist, has shepherded his elastic flock through all types of conditions, and on their brand-new and completely dope LP, Exclamations, Proietti, rather than name-drop (even though KRS-One and Sarah MK guest feature), opted to drop his name from the band.

“It’s not my Morph-Tet,” he says. “It’s not anybody’s Morph-Tet. Or, it’s our Morph-Tet.”

With the record about to launch this weekend, Proietti sat down with Cult MTL to discuss the journey and how the band finally settled down to come into its own.

Darcy MacDonald: So please explain a little about the new collaborative process.

Franco Proieitti: First off, as you’ve noticed, I changed the name of the band. I took my name out of it, because I really do think we’re a collective now. It’s “the” Morph-Tet, it’s not my Morph-Tet. It’s not anyone’s Morph-Tet. We’re a group — we come together, and everybody brings something. And that’s how this album came about.

As far as the process goes, you know, we’re always writing. Whenever we come to practice, someone’s got an idea.

When we were promoting Like the Shore Is to the Ocean, even when we were playing the shows for that, we had new stuff, and then more new stuff came along. (Bassist) Shaun Ryan wrote three of the songs that are on the new album. On the previous records, I wrote every song except for a Mingus cover on the second album. Outside that, I had been the writer.

So that is a big difference, and I think for people familiar it’s fairly obvious which songs I wrote and which ones Shaun wrote, because we have very different, complementary writing styles.

That’s so welcome. I don’t wanna be the only writer in the band. At this point, with the line-up we have, that’d just be silly. And another thing that bears mentioning is that this is the line-up that has been the most consistent since the beginning.

DM: What do you think, then, that this particular line-up of individuals brings to the band?

FP: Well, Shaun brought songwriting, but he also brought just a real feel of funk. Album by album, we get funkier and funkier, and I’ve had ideas in mind that made more sense when he came aboard. In some ways I would say that the band exists in the “pre-Shaun” and “post-Shaun” eras.

Fernando [Gelso, drummer] is the only other person beside myself that’s always had his seat in the band. There’s only been one drummer. There’s been, like, seven horn players, three vocalists, a couple of guitar players, but the drummer has always been Fernando. He supplies that rhythm, supplies that beat.

DM: He’s the consistency?

FP: Exactly. And he has always lived up to new challenges. Shaun is such a rhythmic [bass] player and that makes Fernando stay on his toes.

[Guitarist] Kellan Selig is a jazz player, that’s his comfort zone. He really likes playing ballad-y stuff where he’s freaking people out with extensions of chords, and inversions – real guitar-nerdy talk I don’t even understand. And yet, when I ask him to play real funky and aggressively, when you take a solo, turn up, he’ll take the risk. He’s come a long way. He’s a studious guy, but he also brings a real knowledge of chords. We don’t have a key player so he really fills it out.

Kiki [baritone sax] has to be the most prepared person in the band. I can’t say enough. She is super-dependable as a player. The baritone can be a pretty unwieldy instrument, but she never struggles with it. She brings a joy.

And [trumpet player] Martine makes it pop! When she takes a solo or plays the lead line, she brings confidence, and it brings the horn section together. And trombonist Chris Vincent is new to the band, but he is a hell of a soloist.

Vocalist-wise, Jonathan Emile [has] ridiculous skills at everything. He’s an amazing rapper, and I love his lyrics, but he can also sing and he can do both in both official languages. And he’s a joker, so he’s fun to tour with.

And then there’s Hadi (aka MC/producer Bad Weather.) He’s actually working on bringing in samples and layers to the band, instead of just popping up (to rap) on a song or two. People conceive of him as a guest, but he’s not, he’s part of the band. It’s cool to have two vocalists to bounce off each other.

DM: How did the track “What It Is” with KRS-One come to be?

FP: So the way KRS went in on the song is that Jon is doing his own project, collaborating with different (American hip hop) artists, and he thought that this track, which will also be on his own album out next year,  would be a great look to share with the Morph-Tet — to have us involved, to have a big live horn section.

DM: Have you had any feedback from the Teacher himself on this?

FP: He hasn’t heard the final product, that I know of. The track he heard was the same skeleton that Jon sent me, so he doesn’t know there are live horns on it. I mean it sounds a lot cooler, in my opinion, this way. But even back when Jon sent KRS the original beat, he dug it. ■

The Morph-Tet launch their record Exclamations at Divan Orange (4234 St-Laurent) on Saturday, Sept. 14, 9:30 p.m., $10

Leave a Reply