martedì 18 dicembre 2012

Homer Ladas: It is easier to get good music but it is still hard to DJ well.

Today we go across the ocean and we meet a personality  that has made the history of tango in the U.S.A. Homer Ladas, in addition to being a famous dancer and teacher, is a very famous dj with a great experience started in 1999. The Homer´s interview  is equivalent to knowing the evolution of the figure of tangodj in the United States and trace the trends, styles and fashions. Fundamental to understanding his poetry his DJ Resource , A great website really full of useful tips. Then, Let's read this very special interview. 


From the beginning : I suppose that your first approach with tango, like for other dj, was with the dance. What inspired you to get into console and play music? A conscious decision or was the result of chance?
I started DJing in 1999 in Tucson, Arizona, for a group of students who would stay after class for the practica/milonga. Back then, it involved putting 50 CDs in a CD player and pressing the random button. We all had a lot of fun. Nobody knew any better.

What were your early taste of tango? There are significant differences with the current scene?
My early tango tastes included Osvaldo Pugliese, late 50's Di Sarli Instrumentals, Francisco Canaro and Juan D'Arienzo compilation CDs. It also included a fair amount of alternative music including Apocalytica, Last of the Mohicans soundtrack, etc. Things have changed a lot over the past dozen or so years that I've been a DJ but I still enjoy a mix of traditional and alternative music.

Do you remember your first like tango dj?
The DJ that inspired me the most when I was first developing was Alex Krebs, from Portland, Oregon, who used to travel to and DJ first North American all-nighter in Berkeley, California once per month. Dancers would come from all over to dance until 6 or 7 in the morning. He played a special flow of TTTVM. Back then it worked really well.

The difficulty of the search for songs on cd often burned, the explosion of the Web and the consequent relatively easy to find in the music. Do you think this paradigm shift has changed the way of working of the DJ?
Yes and no. It is easier to get good music but it is still hard to DJ well.

When you build your performance? Long ago, during the journey to the milonga, or sudden moment by moment?
Normally I DJ on the fly (moment by moment). However, I have many prepared tandas that I can access from pervious playlists if necessary. Sometimes I spend time at home creating new playlists or re-tagging my music. Even when I have fully prepared a play list I still have to pay attention at the milonga and make changes if necessary. I do not like to pre-listen (cue & preview) the music at the milonga before I play it. I believe too many DJs spend too much time doing this and it takes away from really watching the dancers. You can download a few of my recent playlists via my DJ Resource page here:

Have you ever played in a boring night? Have you you understand too late that perhaps the milonga could not give you the right motivation and you could not wait to finish? Do you accept whatever you offer or try to make a selection preferring location and fascinating evening with friends?

I have made almost every mistake that is possible and continue to make additional mistakes from time to time. This includes playing a relatively boring set-list that may have been popular in Berlin but not popular in North Carolina. I'm always humbled by the first rule of Djing which is to make the dancers happy. As DJs we sometimes try to overeducate the dancers and I believe this is wrong.

How would you define your style? It has evolved over time? And in which direction? What can influence you in an evening, the audience, the dancers, the acoustics of the location, the duration of your performance ...

I define my style as a mixed music DJ. I try to find the right balance of traditional and alternative selections throughout the night. Sometimes this means that it's a mostly traditional night and sometimes it's a 50/50 proposition or entirely alternative. Transitions between alternative and traditional sets are also something that I'm still working on mastering.

Do you prefer playing alone or sharing the night with a / colleague. Generally prefer to work alone, or with friends who you feeling? Or, you love the thrill of experimenting with a colleague ever heard until then?

I prefer to solo. However, we have an established event in San Francisco, the CELLspace alternative Milonga, which often has two DJs working together in tandem. In reality this is hard work, yet it is especially important in mentoring new DJs. After almost 10 years of experimentation at CELLspace we've discovered a few ways that work well when you DJ with a partner. This includes laying out a flow plan before you start the night and really listening to what your partner is playing to add balance to their efforts or help strengthen any weaknesses.

If someone asks you the name of a track you say it to him, perhaps suggesting where the CD is included, or invite him to venture into the trouble of searching?

I try to encourage folks to buy the music that I DJ. To that extent I let them know as much as possible about the song in question.

The public bother you with absurd requests: what do you do? Are you a jukebox?

I like absurd questions and often times it's because a dancer really has another question or lack of understanding that you help them satisfy. It brings me great pleasure to gently educate the dancers, and encourage potential future DJs, as long as their having fun and ultimately making a positive contribution to their community.

Do you like to dance and listen to your colleagues enjoy the selections and styles of others from your performances?

I enjoy listening and dancing to many styles of DJing from completely traditional to completely alternative. The only time I have difficulty is when a DJ is not creating a nice flow or plays music that is too challenging to connect to.

Do you believe that the art of "musicalizador" is different for geographic areas? Argentina, USA, Northern Europe, Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean ... or is it similar in every countries?

As mentioned earlier, the art of DJing is very specific to each community not just continent. Every tango city has it's specific needs and is in it's special place of development. As DJs we have to respect that and try to cater to those needs while gently allowing them to evolve in the direction they feel most comfortable.

Would you like to have a milonga just for you, furnish it with the appropriate facility to your desires, try to create a wave that satisfies you over to play when you want and create a calendar of events to measure your tastes?

For me, the aforementioned San Francisco situated CELLspace alternative Milonga, founded July 9th, 2003, is that special place. It a volunteer run, community based event, hosted by the non-profit organization Project Tango with a weekly attendance of 100 to 200 dancers. Sometimes we have fun 'theme nights' that really pull everyone together, creating a relaxed and festive atmosphere. After many years of experimentation, we have settled into a flow of one traditional set followed by one alternative set the entire night (unless we have special live music constraints, then we adjust accordingly).

The classic point-blank questions you have to answer, you cannot refuse:

Three orchestras that can not miss in one evening.

lyrical Carlos Di Sarli (con Alberto Podesta or Roberto Rufino)

Edgardo Donato con Horacio Lagos, Lita Morales, etc

Enrique Rodriguez con Armando Moreno

Your three favourite orchestras, which may also be different from the previous ones.

Francisco (and Rafael) Canaro

Rodolfo Biagi

Adolfo Carabelli (and OTV)

Suggest a tanda of tango instrumental, a tanda of tango singer, one of vals and milonga.


Argañaraz 2:22 Ricardo Tanturi Coleccion 78 RPM 1940/50

Gallo Ciego 2:59 Ricardo Tanturi Coleccion 78 RPM 1940/50

Comparsa Criolla 2:49 Ricardo Tanturi Coleccion 78 RPM 1940/50

Recuerdo 3:03 Ricardo Tanturi 1940-1950 1942


Canto De Amor 3:26 Osvaldo Fresedo Tangos De Salon Roberto Ray

Adiós Para Siempre 3:03 Osvaldo Fresedo O.Fresedo - Canta Roberto Ray

Telón (Tango) 2:48 Osvaldo Fresedo 1938/1948 - Colección 78 RPM Roberto Ray

Colibriyo 3:11 Osvaldo Fresedo 33-38 25 Tango Roberto Ray


Un Placer 2:31 Orq. Los Provincianos (dir. Ciriaco Ortiz)

Lo Mismo Que Ayer 2:41 Juan D'Arienzo RCA - Colección 78 RPM - 1944-1949 A. Echague, A. Laborde

Penumbras 2:25 Orq. Juan D'Arienzo



De Contrapunto 2:40 Julio De Caro

Saca Chispas (slower) 2:39 Julio De Caro Hector Farrel

La Colegiala 2:40 Enrique Rodriguez El "Chato" Flores En El Recuerdo voc. Roberto Flores (Fox Trot)


What are the three bands or singers you can not stand?

Miguel Villasboas (most but not all)

Hector Varela (most but not all)

Anibal Troilo con Jorge Casal y Raul Beron (most but not all - wish we had more recordings to choose from)


What is the band most underrated by the general public and which is the most overrated?

underrated - Juan 'Pacho' Maglio

overrated - Anibal Troilo


Your top three nights (in your opinion of course ...)

1. Tucson Tango Festival - alternative milonga - 2012

2. Portland Tango Festival - mixed music milonga - 2011

3. Berlin Nou Tango Lounge - mixed music milonga - 2010


We are less serious: Last night a dj saved my life. The DJ rule is sexy? have you ever had a relationship with some fans and some flirt with your colleagues?

Just my wife Cristina Ladas ;)

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