And then we continue our journey through the tangodj. This time we go to Ukraine and meet another great tangodj, Alexandra Kotelnitskaya. Alexandra has an extensive experience and knowledge of music and she has performed in many milongas. Personally, I have a memory of her impressive DJ set at the festival in Capri, years ago. His interview is very exciting and interesting reading. A journey into the world of tango that makes us discover the feelings and the secrets of a great tangodj that love traditions and rules of tango. Enjoy.
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?
What were your early taste of tango? There are significant differences with the current scene?
Yes, at first I started dancing but we danced to a really strange sets of music back then.There were few milongas in Kiev and there you could hear traditional tango mixed with non-traditional music. There were few Djs who were doing something DJ-related with CDs without any labels on them. In this huge pile of unnamed discs we found 10 hours of someone's playlist from actual milonga I guess. This playlist was traditional (4T-4T-4V-4T-4T-4M) and this was our first tutorial. I don't really remember why but I think I decided to try to dj after my husband's first try to dj. Thankfully, it was his last try too:)
Current scene in Kiev is totally different, we have traditional djs, traditional milongas and obviously dancers who challenge djs and love traditional music.
Do you remember your first like tango dj?
If I understood question correctly I don't remember first time I DJed, it was long ago. The only thing I remember that it was June 2007.
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?
I know the story because when I started djing CDs were rare and precious. Now it's not the same. Some djs think that now djs don't appreciate every found tango, each bought CD, they just download and use. But I am not sure that I totally agree with that. Of course, it's easier now to find new music (if you really need one), but if you love the music you will appreciate it wherever you find it, it doesn't matter if and how much money you paid for it. Having a lot of official CDs or even vinyls with you when you go to milonga is really cool, it helps to stand out of Dj line and probably it helps to organize a music library somehow and sound quality on official CD sometimes is better. You can just collect music and buy all CDs in the world - it will not make you a good DJ and it will not help you love and appreciate tango.
When you build your performance? Long ago, during the journey to the milonga, or sudden moment by moment?
The only way for the organizer of a successful milonga to compete is to "know the audience". The only way for DJ is to have a style, to be predictable. So if I am solid and predictable I hope that whoever invites me knows my style of playing and is choosing me because of that. So the answer is I build my performance according to my style, I know what I will play, I know what I won't play, I will make my final decisions when I am at milonga, usually I play tanda thinking about what I will play next. I don't have external sound card, so I depend on my memory a lot and I know music I use. By the way I don't believe in "DJ for every ear", I don't believe that one person can fulfill everyone needs. Those who claiming that they can play wherever successfully, for whatever audience , all the music they want to hear and everywhere people are happy are either fooling themselves or me. I know I can't play music well if I don't like it. I don't know if it's a flaw or a strength that I only play music that I care about, that makes me feel something. I won't play Temo or Invierno just because it's popular and every Dj is playing it every night. It's too easy :)
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?
Of course I played in a boring night. Its easy to say that its boring to play for one couple on the dance-floor, but it's not true. It's even more frustrating if the boring milonga is full of people. It's not about quantity of dancers, sometimes all the necessary conditions are perfect and magic is just not happening. And it's not about right or wrong motivation, I can't wait to finish when I know that there is nothing I can do to make it right. Sometimes it happens when guests have no other way just to dance because they are here, it's like they are on a boat without any escape. I am pretty sure the problem is with organizer at that moment not with DJ.
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 ...
My style is traditional. I don't think it evolved a lot recently. I play tandas with cortinas, I play 3 valses and 3 milongas. The only thing which helped me evolve to who I am not were dancers, not just any dancers but good dancers and my friends. They pointed me somehow the right directions and I listened and I watched them a lot. I am very grateful to them now but at that moment long ago I was very mad about all critics they gave me.
Everything can influence on me during the night: acoustics of course, lights, table settings, duration, live orquestra or show of maestros, audience: do they us cabeceo or not, do they know how to dance chacarera; even distance between dance-floor and a bar. I can come with some details on that if you want. Acoustics is different in different places so before I play I want to check if I have any restrictions - can I play anything I want or I should be careful with De Angelis's violins, or Donato's milongas. If the place is very big and dance-floor is crowdy I will make cortinas longer so people can spread out without rushing, coming back to their seats or to the bar. If lights are too dark (and there is no legal way to make them more bright) I will choose for example rythmical Troilo-Fiorentino than lyrical Fresedo-Ruiz. If milonga is also long or my set is in the morning or its the end of marathon it will help people to stay awake. If its a start and there are only few dancers in the room I won't play boring music (saving good tandas till the end). Usually any DJ-set is not long enough to play all good music there is. So why be greedy? Maybe someone is changing shoes behind that door, or coming up the stairs. If he/she will hear boring music maybe he/she will turn around and go home or to different milonga. I know because I am like that.
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?
Usually I prefer to play alone, because if you share the night usually it's not enough time as I told before. For me every hour is precious. But I tried to play a DJ-duet with Semeon Kukormin from Moscow and it was awesome for me. It's like I started sentences and he finished them in a better way than i could imagine. We changed every 2 tandas I think and it was a great experience. I don't think that I can do that with every DJ. There should be some kind of connection, understanding and of course some argument, that will add some spice. I don't like to play 3 hours out of 6 at night and it doesn't matter if its first half or second. It's just like saying first half of word and got interrupted.
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 will say the name. I don't like quizzes like receiving a link from YouTube with some non-traditional tango music playing and a question "what is that?"
the public bother you with absurd requests: what do you do? Are you a jukebox?
I literally looked up this word "jukebox" in a dictionary because noone ever told me that. It's not easy to explain in one sentence to a non-tango person what exactly is a tango-DJ but it's definitely fun to watch reaction.
Do you like to dance and listen to your colleagues enjoy the selections and styles of others from your performances?
I am not sure if I understood the question. Do I like to dance to other DJs music? Of course I do, especially those DJs who I love or never heard before and suddenly enjoy.
Do you believe that the art of "musicalizador" is different for geographic areas? Argentina, Northern Europe, Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean ... or is it similar in every countries?
I think it is different in a bad way but it should be more similar. It's like tango - we try different styles but we learn to dance Argentine tango, not Arctican tango or Oceanic tango, DJs should respect traditions of DJing as well as dancers should respect and follow traditions of dancing. It's not our culture to change rules or make judgements about whats right or wrong. Its more interesting to try to understand the reasons behind each and every tradition of DJing and codigos. For example, why use a cortina? Why 4 tangos in a tanda not 5. These reasons are fair. I like fairness :)
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 have 2 current festivals and one marathon, plus lots of months of regular milongas in two different cities in the past. So "yes" - this I would have answered 6 years ago.
The classic point-blank questions you have to answer, you cannot refuse:
Three orchestras that can not miss in one evening.
Anibal Troilo, Carlos Di Sarli, Miguel Calo
Your three favourite orchestras, which may also be different from the previous ones.
(When their music is playing I am very picky about who I want to dance it with)
Suggest a tanda of tango instrumental, a tanda of tango singer, one of vals and milonga.
Carlos Di Sarli instrumental:
El Pollo Ricardo
Pedro Laurenz canta Alberto Podesta:
Que Nunca Me falta
Anibal Troilo valses:
Acordanome De Vos
Francisco Canaro milongas:
Largas Las Penas
What are the three bands or singers you can not stand?
All female singers (let's count them as one)
Alberto Castillo (i imagine that he's smiling when he's singing, and usually he is singing about serious and sad staff - that's really weird)
What is the orchestra most underrated by the general public and which is the most overrated?
It depends on a region. In Europe in general all 'viejos' orquestras are too overrated, and I feel that Troilo is underrated. In Russia, Ukraine it's more or less balanced. In Turkey - modern orquestras and late 50's are overrated. And Biagi too:)
Your top three nights (in your opinion of course ...)
Wow, that is a hard one. Ok, La Viruta in Buenos Aires 3 years ago. I felt like the queen of the world back there - and it was all the attitude of Horacio, actually I learned a lot from him that night about hosting a milonga. He is a genius.
El Huracan Tango Marathon 2011. During the first edition it was raining a lot. We had all milongas open-air under a huge tent. The rain was so hard that I put more and more volume. I have no pictures or videos from that night because all photographers threw away their cameras and went dancing. People told me it was incredibly powerful energy on the dance-floor with this rain and music together. My friend wrote that "it was like dancing on the ship who got into a sea-storm".
Third: I played at after-party at Istanbul Tango Ritual 2009. It was my first foreign experience and it felt really nice. All the best dancers from all over Turkey, Russia, Europe who survived festival milonga and went to after-party hosted by my friend Ömer. And they danced like there was no festival milonga before and there will be no tomorrow. I felt their
unbelievable energy and attention to music and that lifted me. It was the real inspiration.
We are less serious: Last night a dj saved my life. The DJ rule is sexy?
You are asking me about a person who knows what he/she's doing, how to get a number of sophisticated people to dance for hours - of course, this kind of power is sexy;)