domenica 23 dicembre 2012

Vanja Modzelewski:I like the contrasts within one and the same song - rhythmical and lyrical -, as well as a certain dramatic component.

Let's go back across the ocean, New York,  for an interview with a great dj. Vanja Modzelewski is recognized DJ, teacher and performer. Her qualities as a dancer and knowledge of the structure of tango are two important keys to manage  the milonga. A careful selection of music influenced by dancers.  Like Vanja said " Definitely the dancers - the more experienced they are the more they seem to like the same music that I like".  Well, let's go and read the interview, and if we wanna deep her personal tango universe take a look at web site blog:, and Facebook,

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 was dancing for 8 years without even thinking about DJ-ing. In 2008 I was co-hosting a practica and the other organizer asked me if I could DJ one night when he couldn't make it. The rest is history. :)

What were your early taste of tango? There are significant differences with the current scene?

Yeah, my taste has changed a lot! When I was an intermediate/advanced dancer I loved Pugliese, Narco Tango, Gotan Project... Later, for a couple of years I switched to D'Arienzo, Donato, Canaro... preferably without singers - you know, good rhythmical stuff. Now I love the lyrical components in the songs. My newest obsessions are a couple of songs by Varela and Malerba, although beyond my fascination for a few songs I am a big Di Sarli, Caló and Demare fan now.

Do you remember your first like tango dj?

I don't. But I am sure I must have been quite scared.

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?

Now it's so much easier for people to become DJs. I like that. Competition improves the quality. :)

When you build your performance? Long ago, during the journey to the milonga, or sudden moment by moment?

I always have "fall back on" tandas in case something goes terribly wrong or if I really, really want to dance, but I quite often put the tandas together while DJ-ing. 

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? 

I never had a boring night. It has happened that the people in the milonga seemed not to care at all what they are dancing to, but in such case, after trying out different music to see if I can provoke a reaction, if nothing helps then I would play the music I like and dance to it. 

Do you accept whatever you offer or try to make a selection preferring location and fascinating evening with friends?

Since I often put the tandas together during the milonga, I don't really have time to socialize much, that's why it doesn't matter much to me where I would DJ. That being said since I like watching people dance to what I play and get inspiration from them, I love DJ-ing at big festivals.

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 don't think I have a good way to define my style. I like the contrasts within one and the same song - rhythmical and lyrical -, as well as a certain dramatic component. I used to like more light, fluffy, easily digestible stuff, but now these are things I would play for the others, not for myself. 

What influences me? Definitely the dancers - the more experienced they are the more they seem to like the same music that I like, which is always nice, otherwise I would play easier to dance to stuff. The duration too. In a 3 or 4 hour gig at a big festival I can put the dancers under a lot of pressure - rhythmical or romantic - and keep releasing it only a little, since the dancers can take it for such rather short time. But if it's a 6 hours gig then I need to allow for a wider range of music.

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 working alone. It allows me to focus on my work.

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 find that most people ask about the names just so that they have heard them, not because they actually intend to look for the song. I have hardly ever been asked where to find a specific song.

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

Absurd request? I will ignore it. You can't please everybody.

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

Depends. There are some fantastic DJs in the USA to whose music I LOVE dancing. There are also some good DJs that I really enjoy although I would disagree with some of their choices. But there are certainly also famous DJs who's music choice is so far from my own taste that I feel cheated out of a good night when they play.

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?

I think that the art, as such, of putting music together is the same everywhere, what is different is the choices one needs to make. Different places are used to different music and that's what they like. It takes time to introduce new music choices to a certain tango community. The tastes are definitely very different not only between different countries but also between different cities in the same country.

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?

I am a horrible organizer I think, that's why the answer would be "no" for now. But who knows how things would change with the years... :)

The classic point-blank questions you have to answer, you cannot refuse:
Three orchestras that can not miss in one evening.

Di Sarli, D'Arienzo, Canaro

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

Di Sarli, Demare, Caló

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

Pugliese instrumental
Flor de tango
Las marionetas
El Paladín

Di Sarli con Rufino
Si tu quisieras
Mañana zarpa un barco
Adiós, te vas
Necesito olvidar

Vals - De Angelis con Dante (y Martel)
Soñar y nada más
Pobre flor
Ilusion azul

Mi Buenos Aires (Canaro)
No hay tierra como la mía (Lomuto)
Saca chispas (De Caro)

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

Ha ha ha! My taste will keep changing with time, but OK, for now here it goes: Edmundo Rivero, Firpo's tangos and a significant chunk of De Caro. 

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

Ouch! You can ask questions... I have come to really like Donato Racciatti, which is hardly ever played. As for overrated... I'd rather not go there. :)

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

Valentango in Porltand, OR - (traditional milonga) 2012
Queer Festival in Berlin - (mixed traditional and alternative milonga) 2012
Ashland Festival - (traditional milonga) 2012

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?

Now that you are mentioning it... I remember hearing that DJs are on some people's check list, together with tango teachers or ski instructors... but I haven't felt more desired since I started DJ-ing... May be it's because I was already a tango teacher for many years before I started DJ-ing? :) Besides, now I am married. :) :) :)

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