Another great Tango DJ... let's discover the secrets of Hans Peter Salzer
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?
It really was a decision! And this is the story:I started dancing Tango in the summer of 1998 in the south of Germany, you can say it was in a provincial region ... fine countryside but not much Tango there. The local Milonga was once a week and half an hour to drive by car. All other Milongas were about a one or two hours drive away. I was eager to learn fast, so I went to this other places. And there always was a DJ working. I liked that very much. At the local Milonga there was a 5-CD-Player „working“ in shuffle-mode. After 6 hard months I had the wish for organized music ... So I packed my briefcase with among 30 CDs and asked the dancers if they would mind my DJing there.
This was the start. I did it for a year for free and made my first experiences there. I think it's not necessary to say, that my
collection - now we call it library - of my music was growing from the first day on. Soon Ive got 360 CDs in two big flight cases.
What was your early taste of tango? Are there significant differences with your current taste?
In the beginning the taste of the dancers in my Tango home scene - and to be honest: also of mine - was the mixed format. And so I started to DJ in this mixed format. Mostly I tried to bend a historical musically bow from my „early“ traditional Tangos (this means from the late 1930s on) in the beginning of the evening to the recent, modern Tangos, World Tangos and from 2001 also Electro-Tango in the latter night. The longer the night was going on, the more I played modern Tangos. This was my style 15 years ago. I always played Tandas, mostly 3 tracks of the same style or orchestra - Cortinas came later.In 2006 there was a modification ... I was requested to DJ for some Crossover-Tango-Nights. The idea of the Milonga organizer was not to create a bow, the mix was during the whole night, combining modern music (containing a musically relation to Tango) with traditional Tango in a fine way ... the bow got really smaller ... You can say, I did mix in waves.
Currently I prefer traditional Tangos, organized in the traditional format with Tandas and Cortinas in the order of 4T-4T-3V-4T-4T-3M- ...
It is a other way of dancing, when You are listening and dancing to the musically variations of traditional Tangos. Tango Nuevo is in some cases a special field.
Especially Electro Tango, World Tango or Non Tango are serving a stable rhythmical beat but mostly - and poorly - no or less varieties, providing a musically floor for steps. For beginners this seams to be easier than the challenge of listening to all the variations of a Laurenz- or Troilo-Tango for example.
Do you remember your first engagement as a tango dj?
I did some DJ-Sets in late 1999 until early 2000 for bigger events - but there I was also a member of the organizing team. So I won’t say this have been real engagements. The first engagement I think was the Tango-Ball 2000 at the Tangofestival in Ludwigsburg (near Stuttgart). I was very exited!
One other engagement in the time of the beginning was for the „La Milonga Tangoweek“ at the end of August at the Hotel Elmau-Palace in a mountain valley near the Zugspitz mountain. I was the only DJ there for seven nights with Prácticas, pure Milongas and Milongas with live music … this was a challange and also a good training for me. I think my job was not too bad, so I did this for five more times.
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?When I was working with CDs, it was not possible to prepare a playlist for the evening! I prepared Tandas and saved them with stickers on jewel cases of my CDs or in a folder. And so I did this in the same way a very long time when I started to work with Laptop - I did my decisions on the fly.
Actually mostly I prepare the first hour. The rest is a kind of communication. A prepared idea for the beginning helps me to pay enough attention to the dancefloor.
Sometimes I prepare some nice Tandas for the audience of a special event - but then often it happens that I don’t play it there.
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?I don't remember a boring set. There is an organiser, an engagement, there are dancers and I am the Master of Ceremony - I think this is the english meaning of „Musicalizador“. That's my job and this is not boring ...
Sometimes there are just a few dancers/couples, sometimes it is hard work to adjust the sound for the PA ... but in all this cases I try to do my best!
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?
And no, I don't deny requests, because I think, they won't be attractive enough for me. This is not the way I am thinking and feeling.
A request is a request ... somebody is thinking that my music and style will be good for his Milonga and his audience. This is an honour for me.
Sometimes I have to refuse a request, cause it can't be fixed in my schedule in case of other dates, gigs or I have some family-days. Sometimes the money is a reason, or the musical format.
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...
It is hard to define my style for myself. But what I try to do is, to create a fine variety of Tandas. Tandas with high energy, with sublime energy, with fine harmonies, emotional Tandas, Tandas with some tricky rhythmically elements ... and so on. And then during the Set I try to create an order good for the dancers, their ears, souls and feet.
Depending on the majority on the dancefloor it could be more energetic or more sublime or more romantic ...
So I don't know how to define my style. I try to take care for the dancers and to offer a balanced selection of Tandas - sometimes combined in energetic waves, sometimes combined with some contrasting changes. And: I try to keep the sound system on a medium level. The music should be well heard, but it is not necessary that it is roaring loud.
As talked already above, there have been some evolutions over the years. In the traditional format I can say, in the last years I took care for more harmonic, emotional and sublime Tandas.
Influences during the evening could be everything, the sitting people, the dancing couples, the talking people, the mood on the dancefloor, sometimes requests from some dancers, ... nearby everything ...
The acoustics are a special point. I come along with basic technical equipment to adjust the room acoustic. When I travel by car optionally I bring along an additional Equalizer. When the acoustic is well prepared the influence for the evening is on a customizing level.
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 never heard until then?
I try to be a team-player. In February 2014 I did a DJ-Session with two other DJs. One of the DJs I never have heard before. This was a very great experience. And the dancers liked it very much too. I never did a DJ-battle, and I think this is actually not my style.
To share an evening with an other DJ in two parts, just as for a marathon - I did this just for one time and I think it is a kind of challenge. The first experience was a little tricky for me because I have got a big respect for the DJ doing the Set after mine. But it was a good experience and I have learned a lot more - so for me it is also a fine way to DJ.
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?
This depends on some things: Normally I show the current Orquesta (iPad, second Mac or projector). So, there are not much questions.
But if there are more questions it depends on „Who“ is asking me and „how“ he does ... for interested people I will give some informations. But when I am just working on my library or playlist and a grabber comes to me impatiently ... he has to wait a little. For the first of all I work for the dancefloor, and then it is time for interrested people.
The audience bothers you with absurd requests: what do you do? Are you a jukebox?
Thats an interresting topic. What is an absurd request? When the format is clear, and it doesn't fix to the format, there is no way (for example Electro at a traditional Milonga).
When it is fitting to the format AND it is possible to create a Tanda and this would work fine in a cycle ... sometimes I try to do it ... also depending on the audience. That's hard, cause sometimes you think, the audience also will like it and at other times you are not shure ... in this cases the decision takes a little longer.
Do you like to dance and listen to your colleagues enjoy the selections and styles of others from your performances?
I like to dance! Yes, really very much! And I like to dance to the selections of my colleagues. And I think, everybody is working in a personal way. So I don't think that there is the same style by two DJs. But I like similar and also different styles and performances.
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?
To answer to this question, i did not travel enough through the continents.
But I think it is a little different in the Milonguero-Scene, Marathon-Scene and in the Festival-World.
That's a nice dream! Actually we rent rooms for our events. In one case the room is very good with a very good sound systems (in my ears one of the best installed system in the region). On the other hand there I make a lot of compromises.
To be the owner of a room ... that would be great!
The other point: To do, just what I want to do ... thats a little difficult. If I would live in a capital or in a big city, it could be possible to create a Milonga just for my personal style ... but in such cities a lot of people try this for real.
When you are living in a smaller town, there you have to take care for your audience, your Tango friends, your guests ... so the result will be a mixture of own desires and of that what the dancers are expecting, because in the end they pay for it.
The most important thing is, that the dancers should like, what I am creating for them … to create it just for me doesn’t make any sense.
Three orchestras that can not miss in one evening.
D'Arienzo, Di Sarli, Canaro
Your three favourite orchestras, which may also be different from the previous ones.
D’Arienzo, Biagi, OTV
Suggest a tanda of tango instrumental, a tanda of tango singer, one of vals and milonga.
- Yunta Brava
- No Me Lo Digas
Biagi with Duval
- Tus Labios me Dirán
- Hoy Te Quiero Mucho Más
- Pro Tener Un Corazón
Caló with Podesta or Beron
- Pedacito De Cielo (Podesta)
- El Vals Soñador (Beron)
- Bajo De Un Cielo De Estrellas (Podesta)
Di Sarli with Rufino
- La Mulateada
- Yo Soy De San Telmo
- Rosa Morena
Salgan - for some it is good music and with the other musicians of „Nuevo Quinteto Real“ I must say this is real good. But Salgan alone for me it is hard to dance and a little bit overcomposed.
„Panta rhei“ - and so this also is constantly floating …
sometimes a audience likes one orchester more than I and I like another orchestra more than the audience. At another city and country they have other favorites. For me this all is a kind of personal taste. I think it is a good thing, when organizers are mixing the DJs and the DJs are traveling … so they can get in touch with other tastes and inspirations.
In the time of the „mixed“ format we had some great nights during the Tangoweeks on Hotel Elmau-Palace.
Since I work seriously traditional, I think this has been three very fine nights:
- „La Franteña 2014“, DJ-Set at Friday night, August 15th 2014
- „Noches de Invierno“, DJ-Set, Welcome-Milonga, Friday afternoon, January 2nd 2015
- Antwerp, DJ-Set for „Milonga de Estar bien“, February 22nd 2015
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?
What shall I say? I have found my beloved wife in Tango! I don’t think that she was allready a fan of mine when we met us the first time - but now she is one of my greatest fans!
To have a flirt for me this is a kind of communication. And yes, this happens in Tango for shure - also with colleagues.
But: For this all it helps to dance a lot and to meet a lot of women … and as DJ you don’t dance ;-).