Marcelo Rojas – A sensations administrator 1/3

“You shall never see me on the dance floor or listent to me criticize a music. I feel like being a sensations administrator.”

Marcelo Rojas, internationally known in milongas and tango festivals, is a “musicalizer” for the great tango radio station in Buenos Aires, « La 2×4 ». The station is listened to the world over. He welcomed me on a very hot porteñe afternoon in the radio’s offices. Smiling and friendly, he took the time to show me the recording studio and the huge collection of CDs, cassettes and records accumulated through the years thanks to private donations and music research. It is a real national and cultural treasure, part of the tango’s rich heritage. In addition to the research and the rehabilitation of these recordings, he works to digitalize them and to share this music through the radio waves.

With live radio as our backdrop, Marcelo spoke to me about his career, his work and his fascinating experience with the tango.


Tango from the past, tango today: music for all.

« Our musical history is rich. There are always new bands showing up on the scene, evoking the past but also proposing their own compositions. My work as a program planner at the 2×4 is to make the tango accessible to all, to every taste. There are danceable tangos, others that are better to listen to, and others still that are more contemporary, modern. There is evocative music, different styles of bands… I try to reach every audience. I want to be part of the permanent growth of the tango, leaving nothing behind. I’d like the past and present to come together.

Collector, researcher and discoverer

Today, with all of the technology we have at our disposal, we can control the music. We have an enormous amount of work to do. We discover new archives all the time with an impressive amount of music that we verify, repair… It is slow but ongoing. Every day we digitalize a little more which helps us keep the process moving. We want it to grow. We feel like we have an important responsibility with respect to many artists who depend upon our broadcast to be known and to develop their work, notably young bands. We are aware of this and do our best so that everyone can have a chance. Everything is growing: work, broadcasting, music, and we want everyone to be able to benefit from this. We want to support artists on the one side and on the other, provide dancers with something new, always reaching a wider audience. We want to accompany the process that brings people closer to the tango.

How do you do to discover new materials and new orquestas etc.?

We have various structures, one of which is the city of Buenos Aires, considered to be a cultural factory in constant movement. All of the events in the city and everything that has anything to do with the tango go through us. Many artists contact us to propose their work. We look for new material ourselves; thankfully, I travel a lot as a DJ to festivals and milongas so it helps me to discover new things. Concretely, a few years back, I went to Spain and discovered El Cachivache. I liked their music and above all the fact that they were Argentinians looking to defend and promote our culture over there. For me, they very much had their place at the 2×4, so I invited them to come after that.

On the other side, the tango has a very porteñe culture and beyond being in Buenos Aires, Argentinians are really proud of their country. Many people have made copies or given their material to the 2×4. When people – collectors – die, quite often their family bequeaths to us their tango collection so that we can share our tanguera culture with the world. This radio station is listened to internationally thanks to the Internet, by Argentinians but also by foreigners.

We receive messages from all over the world, and it is important to know that the music I like will be listened to somewhere in the world. The broadcast never stops because when night falls here, somewhere else the day is dawning. In order to respect this global audience, we take care to ensure continuous programming. It is very motivating, I love this job!

It’s been 9 years that I have been working for the 2×4 and 20 years as a DJ. Milongas, festivals…since joining the 2×4, new perspectives have opened up to me to learn new things and to listen to music in a different way, making a distinction between what can be danced to or not, for example. Before, I used to think about the tango as only music for dancing. But I’ve understood that it can also generate other sensations, emotions and memories.

Offer the tango as it is without passing judgment.

I don’t dance the tango, nor do I play. You shall never see me on the dance floor or hear me critiquing the music. I am an administrator of sensations, not a music critic. I simply wouldn’t know how to be one. I don’t play an instrument so how can I critique music? I share music that I feel will move people or inspire them to dance. A musician would be a perfect critic because he has knowledge of musical structure. I do the best I can. I am accustomed to what is going on in the milonga, and at a precise moment I feel that a peculiar theme might fit a particular audience. It is based upon perceptions, observations and intuitions, definitely not music critiques.

The tango has gone through many conflicts. It has been criticized and nearly banned… In the beginning, it was very marginal, you could dance in “feel good” places but it was only in the 1940s that it began to grow significantly and become famous. The tango is a reflection of society and its people, and when people feel good, it boosts their creativity. The tango has been prohibited: dancing, certain lyrics… It has been politicized, persecuted and idolized and has passed through many passionate situations. The tango is passionate. It suffered because it wanted to include everything and everyone. We criticized it a lot: Piazzola, electronic tango, what the tango is and what it is not… If there is something that I am told is a representation of the tango, I include it as such. Without ever judging it.”

Second part of the interview coming soon!

Photo By: Jerzy George Dzieciaszek
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“Marcelo Rojas – A sensations administrator 1/3”

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