mercoledì 21 agosto 2013

Melina Sedo' : It‘s about finding the right balance of rhythm, romance and drama. Equilibrium. My wish is is, that dancers with different preferences, with different kinds of energy, will both be happy with the evening.

I play traditional music for social dancers. This is the line of Melina Sedo', one of the leading names of the TangoDJing. Her DJing is maximum Danceability but as Melina says "There Will Be always at least two Tandas by Di Sarli to Milonga - no matter how short. El Senor Tango can never be forgotten." a new episode with the masters of the console

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? 
Sure, I started out as a Tango dancer as every one. But very soon, from 2001 on, I got into teaching Tango and organising events. In those first years, Detlef used to DJ with a big set of CDs and he put a lot of work into it. I was fascinated and very much interested in trying it out as well, but would panic in front of a set of programmable CD players. I vowed that I would only DJ with a laptop. In 2003 we (my partner Detlef Engel and I) initiated our first regular Milonga and in 2004, I got my first iBook. So I actually had three years to prepare mentally for that challenge.

What was your early taste of tango? There are significant di!erences with the current scene? 

Tango changed so much over these past years. I started dancing Tango in 1994. Back then, there were no Milongas in our region and you had to travel far to go to Festivals. To find information about Tangoevents was very challenging and the level of social dancing was disastrous wherever you went.
But the internet and cheap flights have changed the Tangoworld: Now information is easily accessible and people can be inspired by other dancers not only via Youtube, but also by meeting them at hundreds of international events. This had a great impact on the development of very decent local Milongas, which you can now find in every part of Europe - well - almost every part... In general, the quality of dancing and djing has developed tremendously since the first years of the millennium. Someone who starts doing Tango now, has a great choice amongst good teachers, decent local Milongas and exiting international events all around the world. This is why new dancers will progress so much faster than the earlier generations. Tango has become a global phenomenon and is re-created anew in every Tango-community around the world. This is a very exiting time. There were of course also setbacks: A couple of years ago, I was a little scared and annoyed by an ongoing process of standardisation - everyone wanted to imitate the current Campeones Mundiales and you saw the same moves and gestures wherever you went. This was quite boring. But that‘s over in most parts of Europe. Thank god! People can now develop their individual styles and take the best input from di!erent directions.

Do you remember your first engagement as a tango dj?

Yes, this was in 2004. My first night as a DJ took place in our own Milonga in a small German town, St. Wendel. The attendants of the Milonga were mostly our students or friends from the region. I had prepared many months for that first evening importing music, tagging it, cutting cortinas... And was very proud of my new iBook!
I don‘t remember what I played, although I recall, that it was well received by the audience. Only fellow DJ Andy Ungureanu complained that I played too much old stu! by Donato, Carabelli and Petrucelli. I guess he was right back then, but nowadays, that‘s en-vogue again. So, when I come to think of it: I was quite avant-garde. ;-)

When do you prepare or construct your Set? A long time before the gig, on the day of the milonga, or do you improvise freely during the evening? 

I prepare an entire playlist for the Milonga in the days before the gig. I like to take my time and build up new Tandas and a dramaturgy for the evening. Sometimes this will be done in one or two hours, sometimes it takes days... But I will not stick to my playlist and be always prepared to change my plan in the course of the evening.
As I will not (or only very little) dance during my work, I always keep an eye on what is happening on the dancefloor an if something does not go as desired, I will insert Tandas or replace them or do whatever is necessary to keep up a good energy.
But I have to say: very often, there is no need to change anything, as I usually know the (kind of) audience very well in advance and will construct a set for that special occasion.

Have you ever played a boring set? Did you maybe understand too late that the milonga could not give you the right motivation and you could not wait to finish? 

Well... that‘s up for the dancers to decide, but usually the „pista“ is full, when I DJ. ;-)
No, honestly: I always try my best and play the most danceable music. Surely no DJ can always be brilliant, but if he/she sticks to some simple rules and tries to vary style and energy of the Tandas, the evening can never be really bad.
But: in rare cases, I am bored or annoyed. When I see the dancers moving without connection to the music or behaving in a unsocial manner on the
dancefloor, I will not be very content and look forward to the end of the night. I won‘t feel very inspired on such an occasion! Sometimes, I post on Facebook during a DJing gig. You can always read from my comments, if I am happy or not.

Do you accept whatever gig is o!ered to you or do you try to select engagements, preferring a special location or fascinating evening with friends? 

I usually accept every gig that is o!ered to me in combination with a teaching engagement as I comprehend it as part of „the mission“ to teach musicality and give an example of decent DJing.
When o!ered to DJ independently of our teaching, I will only accept gigs that go conform with my general philosophy: events for social dancers in a close embrace and with a preference for traditional DJing. I have once or twice DJed at events that were of a very di!erent nature and su!ered to much when watching the dancefloor. Seeing people throw their legs into the air to a romantic Di Sarli with Podesta just makes me want to cry. So I won‘t do that again.

How would you define your style? Has it evolved over time? Into which direction? What can influence you during an evening, the audience, the dancers, the acoustics of the location, the duration of the Milonga...

I play traditional music for social dancers - preferably those who dance in a close embrace. But do I have a style? I don‘t know... Some DJ‘s specialise in the 30‘s, some in rhythmical music, some prefer a more dramatic style...
I will to play Tangos of all epochs, starting with the late 20‘s until the late 50‘s. My emphasis will of course be on the 30‘s and 40‘s, and I will never chose more recent recordings. (It goes without saying that I will not play neotango, electrotango, Piazzolla, non-tango or the like.)
In my first years as a DJ, I still used contemporary Tango orchestras once or twice an evening and I mostly played one Tanda of Electrotango per Milonga. But that‘s over. When constructing an evening, I pay a lot of attention to varying the general style of music systematically. A clearly rhythmical Tango (or Vals or Milonga) will always be followed by something more lyrical and vice versa, highly energetic music will be interchanged with „cooler“ Tandas... Once in a while, I will play a dramatic Tanda (late Biagis, late Di Sarlis, very seldom Pugliese), but I will not overdo it. The old recordings (late 20‘s, early 30‘s) play an important role in every set, but I will make sure, that they don‘t dominate an evening - this can get boring soon.
It‘s about finding the right balance of rhythm, romance and drama. equilibrium. My wish is is, that dancers with di!erent preferences, with di!erent kinds of energy, will both be happy with the evening. In social Tango, there are two mainstreams of dancers: those who want to move and play with the music and those who want to cuddle. All of them should leave the Milonga in a happy mood.
So: what defines my DJing is a constant search for the „perfect equilibrium“. Mind you: it‘s an ultimate goal, not easily to be achieved and sometimes I might fail. But I am working on it. Another important priority of my DJing is maximum danceability. I will exclusively play Tangos that can be interpreted by social dancers without a formal musical education or ballet training. If a Tango is too expressive or too complex, I will surely not play it. This choice will of course be influenced by the level of proficiency of the audience: some Tangos (e.g. Belgica by Biagi) might be used in the setting of an international Encuentro with experienced dancers - but I would most-likely not use them in a local Milonga, that I visit for the first time. So: of course my DJing will be influenced by skills of dancing in a certain place, by the general ambiance, even by the length of a Milonga: if you have got only 3,5 hours, you have to play a perfectly chosen set with only the most danceable Tandas.... if you‘ve got 7 hours, you might take a risk once or twice an evening. ;-)
There‘s one last important feature of my DJing: There will be always at least two Tandas by Di Sarli per Milonga - no matter how short. El senor del Tango can never be forgotten!

Do you prefer playing alone or sharing the night with a / colleague. Do you 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?

In general, I like to work alone, but I have sometimes DJ‘d with my colleagues of the Tangokombinat Uwe Willié and Andreas Wichter. That was great fun and I am looking forward to doing it again.
I don‘t know if I would DJ with an unknown colleague though...

If someone asks you the name of a track, do you give him the requested information, perhaps mentioning the CD where he can find it, or do you refuse and thus force him to engage into an adventure of search and find? 

I will always share my information willingly.

The audience bothers you with absurd requests: what do you do? Are you a jukebox? 

No! An organiser who invites me will know my style, as should the public attending. If someone wishes for a nice Tanda of D‘Arienzo and I have not played one yet, I will surely fulfil his wish in the course of the evening. But I will not play anything that does not belong into a traditional Milonga, like: non-Tangos, Electrotango, Piazzolla, Rock‘n-Roll, Salsa or the like. I will also not play anything that would interrupt the flow of the evening, like playing a Vals Tanda after a Milonga Tanda. I play by order TTMTTV and will stick to it - with slight changes towards the end of the evening.
So, when someone approaches me with an absurd wish, I will kindly ask him or her to go away. But actually... the last time this happened was in 2005. I guess people are intimidated by my stern look. ;-)

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

I love visiting Encuentros and examine the work of other DJs, dance to their music, exchange opinions with them. Sometimes you get a real good idea for a new Tanda - although I would never „steal“ the Tanda of another DJ. My favourite DJs are Lampis Zalavras, Theo Chatzipetros and Alan Spotti. And of course there are my collegues in the Tangokombinat, which whom I exchange a lot: Andreas Wichter, Lynn Collins and Uwe Willié. It is always an inspiration to work with them.

Do you believe that the art of “musicalizador” is di!erent for geographic areas? Argentina, USA, Northern Europe, Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean ... or is it similar in every countries? 

Sure. There are great di!erences, but they are not only connected to geography, but also to di!erent styles of Milongas. There is e.g. the „Mediterranean-Cachirulo-Style“, DJ‘s mostly in traditional Milongas in Italy and the south of France who play mostly very rhythmic music wanting to re-create the atmosphere of one of the most famous Milonguero-Milongas in BA, the Cachirulo. Some of these DJs will manage to play a whole evening without a Tanda of Di Sarli or another more lyrical orchestra - that‘s a torture for me, as I like both rhythmical AND lyrical music.
Then, a lot of typical Buenos Aires Milongas seem to use almost exclusively the BIG orchestras like Pugliese, Troilo, D‘Arienzo, De Angelis, Di Sarli, Laurenz. European Milongas integrate more tandas by other orchestras like OT Victor, Donato, much more Canaro, other older orchestras... or very late Di Sarlis with singers, which I have not heard so often at Milongas in BA. But
then I am no specialist for BA Milongas as I have only been there three times. There‘s much work and fun to be had in Europe! ;-)

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 organized Milongas in my homeregion in Germany over the course of 5 years and DJ‘d at another Milonga on a monthly basis. So: I already HAD the pleasure of creating my own Tango-DJ space! This work was very rewarding, but not possible at the moment, as we are away most of the year on teaching engagements. I still organize an annual event, the Festivalito con Amigos, but for this occasion, I invite DJs, as I cannot host an international Encuentro AND DJ at the same time.

Three orchestras that can not miss in one evening.

Di Sarli D‘Arienzo Canaro

Your three favourite orchestras, which may also be di!erent from the previous ones. 

Di Sarli Canaro Biagi

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

Tanda instrumental: Canaro (all 1927)
La Vuelta De Rocha Vuelve Arrepentida La Quimera Caminito

Tanda with a singer: Di Sarli with Duran

Duello Criollo, 1946 Gracias, 1946
Manana No Estaras, 1946 Yo, 1945

Vals: OT Victor

Anita, 1939, with Mario Corrales Intima, 1940, with Carlos Lafuente Temo, 1040, with Mario Corrales

Milonga: Donato

De Punta A Punta, 1939, with Horacio Lagos Papal Calientes, 1937 Elle Es Asi, 1938, with Horacio Lagos

And here my solution to play Confesion (which is the new Poema at the Encuentros). A Ronda de Ases which festures Elvino Vardaro as leading violinist: Dominio, Victor, 1928
Alma, Carabelli, 1932 Cosas Viejas, Petrucelli, 1929 Confesion, Brunswick, 1931

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

Varela, De Angelis, Racciatti

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

Most underrated: Biagi. I hear so much critique about Biagi: that his orchestra is nothing compared to D‘Arienzo‘s, that he played simple music, that his Tangos are undanceable. What I find indeed is, that his music is pure genius and almost always danceable, although not easy to interpret. Also he has evolved his style very much over the years, keeping always the same high quality - and you cannot say this about all orchestras.

Most overrated: D‘Arienzo. All Milongueros love D‘Arienzo. I like some Tangos, but find that his performance declined drastically over the years. His later oeuvre is unbearably aggressive and undanceable. And let‘s face it: what would D‘Arienzo have been without Biagi?

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

1. The Friday opening Milonga of the first „Abrazos“ in 2011. I think, this was a magical night for everyone. Outside, a rainstorm was howling, inside
the dancers embraced with such an enthusiasm for that first Encuentro Milonguero in the UK. I loved it. 2. The Sunday Milonga of one of our teaching-engagements in Bramshaw (UK), I think it was in 2010. I have never received such a great applause for a simple afternoon-Milonga.
3. A gig for Tine Herreman at the Tango Lounge (New York) in 2010. I really loved the energy of that place and I got such a great feedback after the Milonga. 4. I just DJ‘d at Tango del Mar 2013 in Romania. Although this was one of my most di"cult sets (because the Milonga was 7 hours long) I also think, that it was one of my most successful. People would just not stop dancing and we greeted the sun rising over the Black Sea.

We are less serious: Last night a dj saved my life. Are DJs sexy? have you ever had a relationship with a fan or a flirt with a colleague? 

Dear Sir, what an impertinent question! A gentlewomen never kisses and tells!

And then, let‘s be honest: we Tango-DJs are rather nerds and not very likely to be perceived as sexy. It is the maestros and good dancers who get all the hot guys and gals. I‘m so glad that DJing is not my only Tango activity... ;-)

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