Our journey to discover the secrets of the great tangodj bring us in Denmark, Copenhagen. Today meet Lene Oskaria Stengaard one of the most popular DJs, present in the most important European events. Musician and music lover. I think the most beautiful way to define her poetry are her words." I’m a storyteller having a clear intention or message and I use the different moods in the tunes to form the story. People have often told me that they feel like being a part of an old black and white movie when I DJ – and I take is as a compliment. I like the idea of creating a time warp, where the audience can linger to atmosphere of the past. No doubt I have a classical style and mainly play music from the golden area (1935 – 1945), using tandas and cortinas and rarely mix the orchestras, recording time or singers".
From the beginning I suppose that your first approach with tango, like for other dj, was with the dance.
Music has been very important to me. I played the cello for more than 10 years, and my mother introduced me to symphonic music when I was just a kid. But classical music, the cello and I never got along so well – the music was to correct and boring, I missed some wildness, noise and playfulness in the music. I found that in jazz that used tango elements or interpreted composers like Astor Piazzolla. The music made me curious about the dance, and the dance dragged me into an old world of music where I immediately felt at home.
What inspired you to get into console and play music? A conscious decision or was the result of chance?
My collection of tango music and my analytic critical opinions about the music I heard in the milongas in Copenhagen made me realize that I had a desire to DJ, but it took years before the right circumstances for my debut showed up.
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 it is clear that the amount of available recordings and knowledge about them have grown with the Internet. It is much easer to buy music and to structure your collection. The knowledge make it possible for us DJ’s too make more conscious decisions.
When you build your performance, do you do it long time before, during the journey to the milonga, or sudden moment by moment?
I always collect information about the event and the place before I go. How do the room look, what kind of people is coming, if there is a performance I try to get an idea of the style of the orchestra or the dancers. I try to imaging how the milonga is going to be and what I would like to give or ad to the atmosphere. Before going I often have a selection a 5 or 10 tangos I would like to play and a suggestion for cortinas. Beside from this everything is don from moment to moment. I’m not working with premade tandas but select every tango and the order of them during the dj-set.
Have you ever played in a boring night, where you understood too late that perhaps the milonga could not give you the right motivation?
Oh yes I have tried to be at a milonga where I found the energy boring. But it is not my job to judge if the evening is boring or the audience is too small. My job is to play music and to create a desire to dance it out. In northern Europe it can be a bit problematic to dj, because people in general do not show their emotions or enthusiasm. It is frustration to share your music with an audience, where you don’t see any reaction in there faces and you can’t catch eye contact whit anybody. DJ’ing is not a one-way communication, the audience has a great influence on the music during the evening…. if they dare to react on the music.
How would you define your style?
I’m a storyteller having a clear intention or message and I use the different moods in the tunes to form the story. People have often told me that they feel like being a part of an old black and white movie when I DJ – and I take is as a compliment. I like the idea of creating a time warp, where the audience can linger to atmosphere of the past. No doubt I have a classical style and mainly play music from the golden area (1935 – 1945), using tandas and cortinas and rarely mix the orchestras, recording time or singers.
What can influence you in an evening, the audience, the dancers, the acoustics of the location, the duration of your performance ...
I try to be open to it all, because I know the location, the sound, the performances, the other guests, the dancing ect. will affect the audience too.
Do you prefer playing alone or sharing the night with a colleague?
Normally I work alone and I love it. But it is great to make a duet with a colleague once in a wail. The duets are a great tool to get new inspiration and to form and get aware of how you work. It has to be someone I trust and have an open and relaxed communication with, so we can focus on creating an atmosphere together.
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?
Of cause! Tango is made to be used and if I can open someone’s ears to piece of music I gladly give the name of it. I have asked a lot myself, and always got a fair answer. If I get inspired by a tanda of one of my coluges I’ll never ask for the information about all four recordings. I will aks for the name of one and then use this piece as an inspiration for a creation of my own.
Do you like to dance and listen to your colleagues and do you enjoy the selections and styles of others?
Yes! It is always a great inspiration to listen to my colleagues. Some of them I really admire because they make me listen to known music in a new way. It is always interesting to listen to DJ’s and try to understand there ideas and characterize their style, even if you do not agree with there solutions or taste of music. To dance to a DJ’s music is the best way to listen, because you can use both the body and the mind.
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 guess the expectations to a DJ is the same all over the world – the DJ must play nice and danceable music, but for sure there is geographical difference in the definition of “nice and danceable”. It is really great, especially when organizers dare to invite DJ’s from abroad, because then the dancers can get surprised or introduce to new solutions or new music and the DJ’s get challenged on their style and taste.
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 guess I have – Piso Clásico in Copenhagen is created out of the vision of a milonga where social interaction is the most important, not the dancing (dancing is just a part of the milonga). The light, the balance between the dancing- and the sitting areas, the staff, the DJ’s and the bar is selected to create an atmosphere of friendly energy and social interaction. Piso Clásico is only on Fridays, and the room is used for other things during the week, so it is not complete. Chicago in Stockholm is a cool milonga, you can drink, dance, eat and talk in a well-design atmosphere of a cozy cocktail bar. It would be heaven to have a place like that.
The classic point-blank questions you have to answer, you cannot refuse: Three orchestras that can not miss in one evening.
Every orchestra can be left out. I do not have any dogmas about what I have to play, it depends on the energy and the atmosphere. But Francesco Canaro, Di Sarli and Caló is very useful, because they have such a variety in there style.
Your three favorite orchestras, which may also be different from the previous ones.
Biagi! He is the absolute master of excitement. He dares to start a tango with a roar from the whole orchestra and then the second after change to almost un-hearable staccato rhythm for the violins. The contrasts in the music do not give any relief, why it is vibrating and powerful.
Rodruigez can both make you smile and break your heart. The rhythm is often very clear and still there is details to challenge the dancer.
Lomuto with Omar. I love the sound of the orchestra - sneering almost a bit out of tune. The precision of the voice makes it a bit barking, but still able to be tender and smooth in legato sequences. And then is there so many delicate details and brilliant solutions in the music
Suggest a tanda of tango instrumental, a tanda of tango singer, one of vals and milonga.
Sabino, I don’t have any premade tandas – the choice is depending on the moment.
What is the band most underrated by the general public and which is the most overrated?
Osvaldo Pugliese is the most overrated. The music is often used as a some sort of metaphorical orgasm of the evening …… and afterwards people leave, fall asleep or go to have a smoke. The explosive effect of Pugliese is useful and nice once in a while, but I just hate when it gets an orchestra you can not miss in an evening. I often notice a floor in absolute chaos during Pugliese, but it is maybe just the effect of uncontrollable desire. - I’m more into tandra-DJing where you keep the energy for a long time ;-)
I do not know if the term underrated is useful, because if the audience do not like or value an orchestra, why play it?
Let us be less serious. To be a DJ is sexy? have you ever had a relationship with some fans and some flirt with your colleagues?
I am a human and for this reason I flirt! I do not think that my position as a DJ has changed any thing in this matter. Sitting at the consul selecting music, is a job where all my focus is needed, and I prefer to sit alone whiteout any one sitting beside. This puts a sort of limit to admirers. To be serious my job is to communicate and give attention to the whole audience not a single person.