Today we meet another great Tango DJ, Jens-Ingo Brodesser. Jens is greek-german currently living in Brussels where studied visual arts. You can find info about his tango ideas in his blog http://tango-dj.be/. Talking with Jens, that often play music getting it form vinyl or 78 rpm records, is a great experience. At the heart of his poetry this deep reflection: " In my opinion it is very important to provide a variation in musical style between the tandas and to develop a tanda flow for having an enjoyable milonga. I try to catch the mood of the moment by observing the dancers and translate this feedback into the tanda. Variation and changing impulses are the keywords. I like to think of colours and shapes like when you paint a picture. You start at a certain point and let the whole thing evolve. Maybe you tell a story, maybe you are abstract but the most important is that you express something through the music you play". So right. Enjoy.
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?
I think it's a long journey to discover tango music. It might have been started when I received my first CDs from Buenos Aires. Or even earlier, in the late seventies when I was listening to Astor Piazzolla on my father's car radio. Or even much earlier, when I heard the Grimm Brothers' fairy tales with their great Festivals and Balls. I believe that I was always unconsciously searching for a music like tango which connects you to a partner in dance but I believed it wouldn't exist anymore. Then one day a couple of friends came to my house set down a ghettoblaster in my salon and started dancing tango to these never heard tunes, even older than what I recalled from the radio show. I was shocked. That jarred to my mind and unchained emotions as if with a violent unexpected blow. From that moment on I had to learn to move to this music! And I wanted to listen to all of it ... I'm still working on it, there are yet so many pieces I have never heard. It's such a rich genre with so many recordings, musicians and myths to discover. In the meantime I learned dancing and I dug deeper into the genre. Once again in my salon I decided to start djing. Maybe it had been time to share my love with this music.
What were your early taste of tango? There are significant differences with the current scene?
There are some of my early tandas which I still play today. But you know how it works, you start out with a lot of intentions but you don't have the skills and the experience. So I had to learn from dj-set to dj-set what kind of emotions the different tangos set free in the dancers. I think i'm still in this process because every situation is different. What changed is that in the beginning I was thinking very much in terms of tandas. I was happy to get a tanda working guided by a playlist. Now I'm more concerned about the tanda flow and how to articulate the
milonga. Another thing I learned is observing the dancers and to pick up
feedback. In the beginning I had more the impression that the music controlled me, this happens less now and sometimes I can even feel that I'm holding the "body" of the milonga. These are very nice moments of intensive joy, everything is flowing and you fusion with the dancers into one.
Do you remember your first like tango dj?
I tried hard, but my first dj-set must have been a little rollercoaster trip for the dancers judged from my current point of view [laughing]
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, I think there is a shift towards very authentic sounding music.
Both CD and MP3 downloads have deceived with overly cleaned tracks which sound like sent through a metal tube, with poor dynamics, distortions or changed pitch. I can see that more and more of my colleagues are very much focused on finding the best possible sounding version of a tango. They rather like to have some surface noise than a cleaned to death recording. This seems to be a sensitive issue. It's true that the Internet helps a lot. I often use it to get vinyl or 78 rpm records or to order CDs from Argentina, Japan, Uruguay, Europe, etc. Also, there are now more and more high resolution downloads and the available information about tango via the Internet is just amazing!
When you build your performance? Long ago, during the journey to the milonga, or sudden moment by moment?
I play always differently and I don't rely on playlists which could be reused for the next gig. Personally I would find it a little boring to be exposed to always the same order. This being said, playlists don't only exist on the computer, they also burn themselves into your head. So there are certainly some combinations I like very much but I try to keep it open for recombination. On my computer I organise the music into crates to have the bands and the singers at hand, much like when I play vinyls. Just to have a general order. When I travel to a set I think about what kind of context I'm playing at: Festival, marathon, encuentro or local milonga? Is there an orchestra playing, will there be a show? Etc. I also try to figure out what kind of dancers will attend the event. Therefore I believe improvisation is probably the most flexible approach for me.
Have you ever played in a boring night? Have you 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?
If I'm called to play at a milonga I try always to give my best, to play the best music and to set a good frame for the dancers to evolve. It's none of my business to evaluate the quality of an event. Once I'm on it, I support it a 200%! If the event is less frequented, it's certainly more challenging to play to the empty house because you get lesser feedback from the people. But in the end it's a job and you have to do it well. The set bookings are a matter of availability, I think I process them on a first come first served basis. Once I played at a boring festival whereas all of my friends have been at an exciting marathon somewhere in Italy. These are the downsides, you have to go through it and respect your engagements. Sometimes events which appear to be boring reveal as really great unexpected experiences. So don't count your chickens before they are hatched! [laughs]
How would you define your style? It has evolved over time? And in which direction? What can influence you in an evening, the audience, the dancers, the acoustics of the location, the duration of your performance ...
In my opinion it is very important to provide a variation in musical style between the tandas and to develop a tanda flow for having an enjoyable milonga. I try to catch the mood of the moment by observing the dancers and translate this feedback into the tanda. Variation and changing impulses are the keywords. I like to think of colours and shapes like when you paint a picture. You start at a certain point and let the whole thing evolve. Maybe you tell a story, maybe you are abstract but the most important is that you express something through the music you play. At some places like El Corte in Nijmegen you must even play with the lights during the set, besides the factors you already mentioned, this is very important too and often neglected at the milongas.If you understand by style to be a thematic DJ serving only certain styles of dancing, I don't think that this would apply to me. Nevertheless if I know the context I'm able to adapt to any set and
dancing preference. But I prefer the events where dancers of different styles and origins intermingle.
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?
I have never tried a dj duo. I'm open to it.
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?
Yes, I always share this information if people ask. The music doesn't belong to me, it belongs to all of us!
The public bother you with absurd requests: what do you do? Are you a jukebox?
Sometimes I try to talk to some key people before my dj-set and I ask them what they like very much for the moment. Later when the moment is right I play these tracks. This is a very nice connecting point to the dancers. If people suggest tracks or orchestras to play during the set I also would play them if they fit in the context. It's not always possible and sometimes the requesters give the impression of being at the wrong place, especially if they ask for hard core fusion tango in a purely traditional milonga. [laughing]
Do you like to dance and listen to your colleagues enjoy the selections and styles of others from your performances?
Yes of course, I love to dance to other DJ's selections. It's also an occasion to learn something new, to be surprised and inspired.
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?
I think it's different within each person. When you look at the DJs who are around right now you can see that everybody has a very unique and personal style. No two sound alike. The cultural context can certainly also have an influence but when I regard the people I'm more interested in the individual. From experience, less gifted “musicalizadores” can be found anywhere.
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'm co-organising a monthly milonga and once every year a marathon in
Brussels. I think that's enough because it leaves enough time for traveling and djing all around ;-)
The classic point-blank questions you have to answer, you cannot refuse:
Three orchestras that can not miss in one evening.
These four I'm playing nearly always several times during a milonga:
Juan D'Arienzo, Carlos Di Sarli, Aníbal Troilo and Francisco Canaro
Your three favourite orchestras, which may also be different from the previous ones.
It's a difficult question but for the moment I'm very interested to
listen to these orchestras: Miguel Caló, Osvaldo Fresedo and Francisco
Lomuto. Attention, it might have changed by next week!
Suggest a tanda of tango instrumental, a tanda of tango singer, one of vals and milonga.
Ok, here are some tandas I played already sometimes, the last milonga
tanda is a new idea.
Tango instrumental: Juan D'Arienzo (1963-72)
El choclo (1963)
El irresistible (1963)
Mi dolor (1972) with Osvaldo Ramos
(The last tango breaks the instrumental order but it's the same Guardia
Tango with singer: Enrique Rodríguez with Armando Moreno (1944-45)
Este es tu tango
Dicen que así soy yo
Tú, el cielo y tú
Y así nacio este tango
Vals: Francisco Lomuto
Bajo un cielo de estrellas
Milonga clásica (Canaro)
El viento me cuenta cosas (Quinteto Pirincho)
Arrabalera (Quinteto Pirincho)
What are the three bands or singers you can not stand?
I love them all and it changed over time. It's best to give each band and singer one dislikes at a certain stage a second chance. With time, taste and understanding can change. Sometimes I'm shocked that we have a tendency to define our styles by banishing some orchestras. Often you can see that this kind of ignorance is directly related to our inability to understand and dance to this particular music. This is sad. There is not one tango but tangos! And I'm very happy about this. But there are, of course, bands or musicians I personally have problems with too. Often I recognize that I don't know enough about them or that I was listening to the wrong tracks ...
What is the band most underrated by the general public and which is the most overrated?
Underrated maybe the late Francisco Canaro, for me this band has a very jazzy character and produced some great tangos even after 1942.
Overrated I don't know ...
Your top three nights (in your opinion of course …)
I liked every night! And as you would say, the best is still to come
We are less serious: Last night a dj saved my life. The DJ rule is sexy? have you ever had a relationship with some fans and some flirt with your colleagues?
Sabino, what a question! I'm exclusively in love with tango! [laughing a