We continue our journey to discover the secrets of the great TangoDJ. This time heading to Geneva with Pierre Yves Senn, TangoDJ and Président
Association OpenMilonga. Good reading.
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 it the result of chance?
With my partner, we were organizing a weekly open-air milonga in Geneva, and there were no available DJ whose music was inspiring to us. Actually at the time DJ's in my town were playing without cortinas ... so I decided to study, find information, and DJ myself.
What was your early taste of tango? Are there significant differences with your current taste?
My early taste was more oriented towards slower tangos, and especially instrumental ones. Only for the last 3 or 4 years can I really relate to the singer, and even then not every singer. My favorites are Podesta, Maciel, and Rufino
Do you remember your first engagement as a tango dj?
No ... I can't
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 have one tanda ready for the beginning of the evening, for example some nice soft Lomuto or Carabelli, and then I improvise from there, on the fly. I don't even have pre-selected tandas, I change the selections all the time according to the mood, to who is on the floor.
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?
Not really; even in difficult circumstances I take it as a challenge, and try to find a solution. Sometimes it can mean go back to some super-well-known tangos, sometimes, it can mean to make a transition (for example play some foxtrots, most people will love them, or Biagi valses) and restart again. If I feel that I made a mistake (generally I can sense it immediately), i change immediately inside the tanda, sometimes even with another orchestra.
Do you accept whatever gig is offered to you or do you try to select engagements, preferring a special location or fascinating evening with friends?
I like to accept any kind of gig, open-air, beginner's milonga, high-level marathon milonga, flashmob, unauthorized airport milonga; I love challenges and enjoy them.
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 like to define my style as passionate/intense/energetic, in dance as in DJing.
It hasn't evolved much, perhaps only it has refined itself with time.
During an evening, I try to take my whole environment into account, including all the parameters you mentioned, but also, are there many women sitting and not dancing (in this case I will play simpler music, and in tandas of 3, especially in the beginning of the evening). But still I maintain the curve of the evening and be conscious of the way the energy develops during the evening.
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 really enjoy co-djing, I like the challenge, the friendship, the sharing. But I also like to play alone, if the evening is high-level and I want to really concentrate hard on the dancers and the floor.
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 the info; after my events I often publish my playlists on my website.
The audience bothers you with absurd requests: what do you do? Are you a jukebox?
It depends how absurd. If they ask me for Piazzolla or Gardel, most of the time I will say no with a smile. But if it makes sense, and fits into the evening, I can play exotic music, but only after announcing it to the dancers of course.
Do you like to dance and listen to your colleagues enjoy the selections and styles of others from your performances?
Oh yes, there are many DJ's who I admire and enjoy immensely, for example Theresa Faus (DE), Bärbel Rücker (DK), Hiba Faisal(FR), Antti Suniala(FI), Sarah Finci(CH), Rachele Lepera(IT), and many others, too many to mention. Generally I prefer women DJ's, I cannot say why.
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 country?
I believe it's different from country to country, even sometimes from city to city, from venue to venue ... from season to season ! But the goal remains everywhere the same : to make the dancers feel like dancing ... and to make sure they are enjoying their evening.
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 done it several times, have created several regular, and one-time events, and am organizing some new ones, including a nice "Festivalito"-kind event this summer : http://www.tangomillepattes.ch
Three orchestras that can not miss in one evening.
Di Sarli, Biagi, D'Arienzo
Your three favourite orchestras, which may also be different from the previous ones.
Di Sarli, Firpo Orquesta (not cuarteto), J Garcia
Suggest a tanda of tango instrumental, a tanda of tango singer, one of vals and milonga.
Tango | Orq.Tipica Victor/Instr : 5ta Edicion (1937) (2:45)
Tango | Orq.Tipica Victor/Instr : Clavel del aire (1937) (2:33)
Tango | Orq.Tipica Victor/Instr : Tu Vida Es Mi Vida (1937) (2:42)
Tanda with a singer:
Tango | C Di Sarli/R Rufino : Cosas Olvidadas (1940) (2:19)
Tango | C Di Sarli/R Rufino : En Un Beso La Vida (1940) (2:23)
Tango | C Di Sarli/R Rufino : Lo Pasado Paso (1940) (2:24)
Vals | Orq.Tipica Los Provincianos C Ortiz-C Lafuente/:Sueno Imaginado (1932) (2:43)
Vals | Orq.Tipica Los Provincianos C Ortiz-C Lafuente/:Lagrimas Y Flores (1931) (2:32)
Vals | Orq.Tipica Los Provincianos C Ortiz-C Lafuente/:Un Placer (1933) (2:32)
Milonga: (mixed tanda):
Milonga | E Donato/Instr : Papas Calientes (1937) (2:25)
Milonga | F Canaro/Instr : Milonga De Mis Amores (1937) (2:58)
Milonga | Orq.Tipica Victor/M Balcarce : Milonga De Los Fortines (1937) (2:54)
What are the three bands or singers you can not stand?
De Angelis (except for a dozen tracks, some valses)
Fervor de Buenos Aires
What is the band most underrated by the general public and which is the most overrated?
Underrated: many less-known excellent orchestras from the 30's, like Petrucelli, Di Cicco Minotto, José Lucchesi
Overrated : I would say De Angelis is generally much overrated, except for some pieces from the late 40's. To me it sounds like artificial, circus-like music.
Your top three nights (in your opinion of course ...)
An Open-air night, there was a thunderstorm and I played a strong Pugliese tanda just at the right moment ... incredible.
At a nice marathon in France, after the end of the afternoon milonga I announced some experimental music, everybody stayed and I played Rossini, Schubert, Genesis, and Ennio Morricone. Big applause !
I had invited Murat and Michelle Erdemsel to teach, The big Saturday night milonga, with a splendid demo by this magnificent couple. I was inspired and built a beautiful evening around their Di Sarli demo. Lots of applause at the end.
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?
No; I believe the DJ should not be sexy. He or she should be doing his or her job, and not mix with flirting or chatting with a group of admirers. For this reason, in my international events, the DJ is placed in the middle of the floor.
The picture is copyright Michael Eggen Photography