Today we meet another great TangoDJ. From Ankara, Turkey, Ali Isikli. Long experienced Tango DJ and as Ali said "At the very beginning my focus was playing the most popular songs in tandas… Now I focus on the flow of emotion during the milonga and how to navigate this emotion with music"…
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?
Before I met tango (1999), I was a latin and swing dance instructor… Yes, my journey to tango started with dance… But as far as I remember I love the good taste of music… Beside tango, I have a modest music collection ranging from classical to rock... Thanks to my high school music teacher Mr. Haci Balkarli, rest in peace… He inspired me about music… When I was a latin dancer I was DJing at latin nights and clubs… It was inevitable, me not being a DJ at the milongas…
What were your early taste of tango? There are significant differences with the current scene?
Tango enchanted me with my very first steps… During the early stages of my tango life my main focus was on the dance and the beautiful music of tango was behind the scene… In time music overtake that scene from dance… At the very beginning my focus was playing the most popular songs in tandas… Now I focus on the flow of emotion during the milonga and how to navigate this emotion with music? I like the idea to blend into the night, unify with every dancer on the floor, creating a silent communication and enjoying the intense joy of the moment…
Do you remember your first like tango dj?
As if today… Carrying two big CD bags… Every CD marked with stickers with information on it… DJing with two CD changers… I was like a sunday driver on a bumpy road… Today the road is still bumpy but the driver is more experienced…
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 think Internet has only changed the accessibility to almost everything about tango, i.e. music, stories, history, artists, composers, lyrics… But this also puts a garbage on our laps… I mean nowadays there are a lot of reproduction of tango music… You can find different sounding records of a song of the same tango orchestra… Which one is the correct one? To find is the job of a DJ… A good DJ must know which record is the correct one and must put some effort to find the correct sounding song with correct timing…
When you build your performance? Long ago, during the journey to the milonga, or sudden moment by moment?
At the early times of my DJing I was playing continuously with no notion of tandas and by not following certain customs… Then with experience and knowledge I moved to use tandas… Until buying my first latop I was using CDs… Then I digitized my CD collection to lossless music not mp3s… Recently, in search of correct sounding records I start to use vinyls and shellac records… I did use some pre-prepared tandas for a period… But for last 5-6 years I play to the night… This does not mean that I play a tango I hear for the very first time… I do a lot of work at home… Study each orchestra, each record; tag them with correct and useful information… My every DJ performance is different…Because I think the beginners, tangueros/as, milongueros/as, non-tango dancers present at the milonga defines the atmosphere of the night… And so must be the music for that night…
Have you ever played in a boring night? Have 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?
Well boring milongas is a strange definition… Boring according to who or what criteria? My job is to play good music it is not my business to evaluate the quality; my business is to make the night increase in value I always try to do my best when DJing… But I admit it is very hard to play to empty seats
How would you define your style? It has evolved over time? And in which direction?
My style… Well, I am happy when everybody is dancing… And I know that everyone has different taste, likes different orchestras and expects to dance with their favorites… I think tango music is like classical music but evolved in much shorter time period… Each era has its own beauty… And each era is strongly connected to each other… It is really hard to distinguish them… Every time when I’m in control of the music for a milonga, I try to serve this beauty to the dancers… I like putting surprises to my music… Of course I don’t play a milonga in the middle of a Pugliese tanda … My time at the radio helped me a lot… I read more about tango when I prepare my program… Yes, for over ten year I was broadcasting a live radio tango program both at national and local radio stations… This experience along with my DJing performances helped me a lot to understand the real meaning of a tango DJ…
One song, one tanda works well once when it is played at right place and right time… As a Dj you must feel and sense that moment … When I have this feeling I don’t hesitate to play a rarely played or never used tango… I am open minded… I use songs from Guardia Vieja to today’s orchestras’ recordings by always keeping in mind that the music is for the attendees to dance, to listen and make them feel good…
What can influence you in an evening, the audience, the dancers, the acoustics of the location, the duration of your performance ...
Everything… Now I don’t let my personal mood affect the night in a bad way…
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?
Siempre solo hermano I try to create a connection with the attendees… No matter a good DJ I am asked to work with, I don’t want that connection lost, broken or interrupted… But rarely at very special occasions I played with colleagues…
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 always do… It is not state secret Now I am working on a website to help people in their search… It has already many useful info, but it has not been completed yet. Fans can take a look it time to time by www.tangora.gen.tr They will get the information of the total recordings of the orchestra, singer etc. … And on which album they could get the tango they are looking for… But I never share a song… Deeply respecting to copyrighted works and authors’ rights, I pay for my music and original records. Therefore, I respectfully want those who are interested in tango music also do the same…
The public bother you with absurd requests: what do you do? Are you a jukebox?
At the early stages of my DJ work I was asked for almost everything…. Now people respect my work… They know they will get good music during my performance… I always talk with organizers before the milonga to get some vibe about their expectations… And when I get requests I try to fulfill them if there is a good moment for that request… When I cannot, I tell the person I am sorry but maybe next time… The requests are important because they make me realize what really public is expecting; that is good… And I am always open to critics, they help me to realize things that I may overlook…
Do you like to dance and listen to your colleagues enjoy the selections and styles of others from your performances?
I appreciate my colleagues work… I like to dance and enjoy their music… When they asked my opinion I honestly share what I think…
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?
%100… It is even different between the DJs in the very same city… The art of musicalizador is highly correlated with the personality…
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?
Well I do like to have a place of myself… But I don’t want to fill it with my own desires If I do so I will be the only one, may be my wife ;), present at the night…
The classic point-blank questions you have to answer, you cannot refuse: Three orchestras that can not miss in one evening.
• Osvaldo Pugliese
• Miguel Caló
• Juan D’Arienzo
Your three favourite orchestras, which may also be different from the previous ones.
• Osvaldo Pugliese
• Miguel Nijhenson
• Julio De Caro
• Pedro Laurenz and Pedro Maffia – These are bonuses …
Suggest a tanda of tango instrumental, a tanda of tango singer, one of vals and milonga.
• Pedro Laurenz – Abandono
• Pedro Laurenz – Arrabal
• Pedro Laurenz – Mala Junta
• Pedro Laurenz – La Beba
• Osvaldo Pugliese con Jorge Maciel – El Adios
• Osvaldo Pugliese con Jorge Maciel - Y No Podrás Querer
• Osvaldo Pugliese con Jorge Maciel – Será Una Noche
• Osvaldo Pugliese con Jorge Maciel – Porqué La Quise Tanto
• Pepe Aguirre – Amor De Artista
• Pepe Aguirre - Muñeca De Loza
• Pedro Maffia con Francisco Fiorentino - Una Noche De Amor / Julio De Caro con Carlos Vivan y Hector Farel - Sorpresa De Novia
• Emilio Pellejero – Mi Vieja Linda
• Julio De Caro con Luis Diaz – Sacachispas
• Hawaiian Serenaders – La Rumbita Candombe
What are the three bands or singers you can not stand?
I do like them all… Tango is not only for dancing like once Piazzolla said to Troilo… People also want to listen… If you only look from dancer’s point of view there are a lot of musicians who gets a dislike … Also sentences starting like “I hate this orchestra”, “I don’t like this orchestra/singer…” are strongly related to the dancer’s inability to dance… I always play danceable tunes… And hearing the song for the very first time is not an excuse not dancing with it… I do not play electronic, fusion and sort of music like these… And merry go round tunes…
But what I really cannot stand is to listen always the same songs in a tanda at different milongas… If I am not mistaken Juan D’Arienzo recorded 1007 songs… You cannot increment or decrement it by one... But why the dancers should always dance the same tangos, milongas, valsecitos… Yes some of his songs may not be good for dancing but let’s be creative and imaginary
What is the band most underrated by the general public and which is the most overrated?
Underrated Troilo, Laurenz
Your top three nights (in your opinion of course …) We are less serious: Last night a dj saved my life. The DJ rule is sexy?
• Ankara Tango Carnaval Vol.3 was breath taking amazing… Still remember the magical moments and appreciations of maestros Gaston Torelli and Esteban Moreno
• Tango Remolino 2012
• 10th Istanbul Tango Festival…
It is cool
Have you ever had a relationship with some fans and some flirt with your colleagues?
I am always in flirt with colleagues in a professional manner