Last Tango in Argentina

Gotan Project Interview

by Sean O'Neill

Genre alchemists Gotan Project release their excellent double live album ’Gotan Project Live’. Although currently busy wowing audiences with their stunning ’Exclusive Tour’, electronica wizard Christoph H Mueller, took a little time out to talk to Liberation Frequency about their music, the tour and the hotly anticipated third studio album.

What inspired you to release your new double live album ‘Gotan Project Live’?

Basically it has two ideas behind it, one is that releasing live recordings is always somethings special. Myself as a music fan, I really like live recordings of certain artists. We tend to play the music very differently live, especially as Gotan Project was a studio project in the beginning and then transposed live it sounds very different and is worth listening to because the arrangements change and the forms of the songs change. Secondly we wanted to close/complete the circle as we now have two albums, two live albums and two tours.

The album encompasses the La Revancha Del Tango and Lunatico tours, on which you performed around 350 concerts. How did you pick the two for the album?

The first was I think the one that was most prepared was for La Revancha which was performed in London at The Forum, we chose London as that is where the Gotan Project all started in a way. I mean it came from Paris and Argentina, but thanks to a lot of people in England and a lot of DJs it also came together in London, plus it was a great audience to perform to. The second one happened by chance when we got this recording of this festival we did in Switzerland, it wasn’t especially chosen, it just happened, I think it sounds a little more spontaneous maybe. Both the shows were very different, there were 10-20 thousand people at the festival so it was a different energy from the other show.

Your new tour is called ‘The Exclusive Tour’. What makes it so special?

First of all because we don’t do a lot of gigs, also we wanted to group the two tours into one show – so that’s what we are doing musically, we are playing again some of the tracks from the first tour and first record that we stopped playing on the second tour. Also visually and the whole scenography will be a sort of mixture of what we are doing plus new stuff.

There is a very strong visual element to your shows. How do you decide on the images that you want to use?

We have our video artist Prisca Lobjoy, we basically give her ideas of what kind of things we would like to have and what kind of atmosphere and she takes this and adds what she likes. We have great confidence in her as she’s been with us from the beginning.

You obviously have a passionate love of Tango. What first drew you to this type of music?

I was a fan of Ástor Piazzolla for quite a long time, without really knowing that was Argentinean Tango. Tango for me like many people used to be something corny because I only knew European Tango. I was working with Philippe (Cohen Solal) before on The Boyz From Brazil and other things and he brought this whole thing with him, we were both fans of Piazzolla, and basically we met Eduardo and he introduced us to the real Tango from Argentina which was a revelation. In the beginning the music was just experimentation, the first song was a cover of Piazzolla then we were using footage from our recordings and that’s how it started and then it became a real love affair.

You re-recorded Santa Maria Del Buen Ayre and Differente for the box set of the live album’ Gotan Object’ in the traditional 1950’s Tango Style. What motivated you to do this?

We thought it was an interesting idea as we have been taking Tango from the past and bringing it into the present and future, and then we thought why not do the reverse and take one of our contemporary compositions and re-record as if it was in the past, and then have it on vinyl. It was a bit of an intellectual play but we did think it would be interesting to do that.

Gotan Project have produced a very radical form of Tango. How important is it to you to continue to push musical boundaries?

It’s the most important thing, we always want to push more, especially in the field of Tango. It’s like Jazz, Tango is genre apart, it’s in a field by itself, and there is already a huge repertoire of hundreds of tracks, so it is important to push the boundaries not necessarily with just electronic or club elements, it could be other things. Just like in Jazz most people play Tango as expertly as possible and to perfection but where is the interest in that? So for us it is most important to find something new and exciting.

Can you give us any insight how you may achieve this on the new album?

We have some ideas but I don’t want to reveal them right now, but we do want to push into new territory, but always within in the field of Tango and music from Argentina in general.

What is the writing process in Gotan Project?

The three of us compose together, we go to the studio and bounce ideas off each other, it can start on a guitar riff or a rhythmical idea or a melodic idea and then it’s a ping pong process and it’s actually very strange that it works with three people composing together. But somehow it works, and we leave our egos outside the door. It’s the rule, there is a hook outside and you hang your ego on it.

Creatively what do you enjoy doing when not working as part of Gotan Project?

Many other things, I’ve been doing film music together with Eduardo from Gotan and I have a side project which I have actually just released on vinyl ep, it’s a project I have with some musicians from Peru and it’s called Radio Kijada. I have been working on this Afro-Peruvian music for sometime, it’s very interesting and it has nothing to do with flutes as when people think of Peru they think of flutes, but it is very funky music. It is basically music invented historically by black slaves who once lived on the coast of Peru and mixed with the Spanish and indigenous people to create a very rootsy, funky, raw type of music and I have been working on this project to bring this type of music to a wider audience which is an important thing for me right now as well as Gotan.

Do you have any message for your fans waiting to see the forthcoming shows?

Give us a chance and come and see us, for people who haven’t seen Gotan Project it will be a great chance for them to see two shows in one, and people who have seen us before and liked us will see something different again.  We are trying to do something very special for our fans

Got something to say about this article? Pay a visit to our Music Forum to discuss this and many other topics! For more music reviews, interviews and features, visit the music section and our music archive