Michael KI - Bailemos Tango Basel - DJ

I live in Basel (Switzerland) and am TJing for quite a time. I started to hear the wonderful Tango Music as a dancer, then I began to collect and to play on milongas as a Tango-DJ.

I published a few articles about Tango. And I started 2018 a Tango radio programm telling some stories of the background of Tango music and the musicians. I would like that the dancers leave with a inner smile and perhaps the feeling »A pity that it is already over«.

An interview with Michael - getting to know him as a TJ:

Rank your favourite music style when playing:
The core repertoire is from the Epoca de Oro (Golden Age 1935-55) when the music exploded in richness. Of course, the main orchestras like Di Sarli, D’Arienzo, Troilo, Pugliese, Calo. But there are so many fine orchestras like Pedro Laurenz, Edgardo Donato, Domingo Federico, Ricardo Tanturi – just to name a few.... And a few side steps to the earlier more rhythmic orchestras.

Are you dancing yourself?
Yes, I started in the last century ;-))

What was the trigger that made you start DJing?
There was no triggering moment that I remember. The love for this great music?

What is the main quality a DJ needs to have from your point of view?
A good feeling for the qualities of the music in respect to the dancers. With the years I realised (with the help of others like Ch. Tobler) that many transfers onto CD are quite poor (to say it diplomatically). So I am (still) looking for good transfers, and do some effort to play the best avalaible version at a Milonga. For instance it was long time not possible to get Troilo transfers without pseudo stereo, reverberation, TMNR (Too Much Noise Reduction) and all this artificial crap. (The same with other orchestras like Fresedo). It is sort of fake reproduction – when you hear a good transfer from shellac with good music equipment you will recognize it immediately. I don't play data reduced music (mp3), I play whenever possible in full format. There is less strain for the ears and our brains. We cannot 'prove' it but the observation is that the dancers are more relaxed.

About cortinas: how long, why and kind of music?
Well, it is the sign to change partners. I prefer music which has a certain mood that fits to the energy of tango music. For instance smooth Jazz, or other music from that period. I don't like loud music that smashes on your ears.

What is your playlist system? Always the same or do you adjust it; when and why?
I follow the TTVTTM structure, with 4 Tangos and Valses, but mostly 3 Milongas (for obvious reasons). I don't do it because »it is done like this in Bs As« but because it turned out the most agreable way for the dancers of enjoying and interpreting the music. The tandas I prepare very carefully in advance, so that there is like a melody with variation within a tanda. I don't make time jumps within a tanda as I regrettfully hear at some milongas - the early Biagi has clearly a different energy then the late Biagi. At the milonga itself I adjust the tandas according to the flow on the dance floor.

Somebody comes to the Dj booth and asks you to play a song. Your answer?
When possible, yes. I try to fit it in within a tanda. I prefer that people ask for a special orchestra (like Donato, Maderna or the early Di Sarli). Such a wish is easier to fulfill.

What would be your last song you played on a Tango Festival or Marathon?
A few cumparsitas. There are so many fine versions. For instance the late d'Arienzo version. Before sometimes as a surprise "I've got to see you again" (Norah Jones)

If you would have a free wish, which Festival or Marathon would you like to play at?
Well, I don't have favourites – I am open to all kind of venues. The next time I am playing in Ballhaus Ulm. After the first time they immediately wanted me a second time. By the way: it is easier to make the music at bigger festivals because many and good dancers keep the energy up by themselfs. It is much more difficult to create a flow on little milongas. This is a bigger challenge.

(Interview 08/18)






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