Charly Pacini, the viola player for the most rockin’ tango orchestra in Buenos Aires spoke on behalf of the group for an interview with The Argentina Independent.
When did the orchestra start?
The Orchestra started in 2001 in the midst of the social and political whirlwind, out of a desire to make tango, pure and exclusively as a group project and not to take advantage of the ‘for export’ movement that was and continues in Buenos Aires.
How did you unite with the group?
I got together with the group because a friend who played in the orchestra told me they needed string instruments and so I went with my viola and stayed.
Has it always been the same group of musicians?
The group was formed in that same year, 2001. We always maintained the same lineup, four bandoneóns, three violins, a viola, a cello, a stand-up bass, a piano and a singer. Some of the musicians have changed but we have always been 12.
How would you explain what kind of music you play?
We make tango with the traditional formation of a typical orchestra from the 1940s, but we don’t dress up as ‘tangueros’, we live and play tango as we feel it now. Our sound is violent and hard but without losing respect for the style.
Which orchestras do you get your inspiration from?
Many…Pugliese, Troilo, Di Sarli, Goñi…but we are influenced by music beyond tango, primarily rock, also contemporary music, jazz, argentine folklore. When we play we all want the orchestra to sound like the Pugliese’s orchestra and Nirvana playing together.
What type of crowd do you guys attract?
Our audience is pretty diverse, old tangueros, people who know a lot about tango, but mostly young people between 20 and 40 years old.
When I went to see you I saw that there were lots of girls, do you guys have a faithful set of groupies?
Orchestras and rock groups always have had faithful fans that followed them and we continue that tradition, the fact that they are mostly women is just a coincidence between rock and tango.
Was there a definitive decision that the orchestra was going to be all men?
We are like a gentlemen’s club, in which we make music and all the other things that gentlemen don’t do.
In the history of tango was there or are there typical orchestras with men and women?
Generally, the woman was the singer in the orchestra and yes there have been female orchestras. In actuality it’s common to see girls playing the bandoneón, the violin, the piano and the base.
Is it difficult to organise practices and meetings with so many people?
No it’s not difficult, the orchestra always had a set schedule of practices and meetings, exactly because we are so many it’s necessary to be organised and coordinated.
The orchestra, because it functions as a cooperative, makes us bosses and employees at the same time; therefore we have to be responsible and organised all the time.
Four years ago I saw you guys playing in the streets in San Telmo and now you have your own place. When and why did you guys establish it?
The Club Atlético Fernández Fierro (CAFF) was founded on 1st May 2004. The CAFF was born out of necessity for a place to practise and at the same time to show people what we were doing with our music.
What affect did Cromañon have on CAFF?
The original idea was that the CAFF could be a place for music, painting, photography, film and theatre. Like the majority of places, cultural centres, clubs and theatres we suffered from the government’s paranoia that cultural activities were dangerous and we had to close and then get the legal permission which was pretty difficult.
Even though you have your own place, do you guys still perform in other venues?
We are in the Alternative Music Festival circuit and the 7th December we will be in the Buenos Aires Personal Fest alongside the hip-hop glories and Argentine and foreign groups. That will give us a very diverse audience that never has even seen a live tango orchestra.
Have you guys gone on tour?
Since 2003 we have toured Spain, Italy, Germany, Holland, France, Austria, Sweden, Belgium, México, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Uruguay, the US and Iceland.
Do you have any anecdotes from one of the tours?
The fact that in one week we were in New York and then Iceland is an anecdote in and of itself. Two places totally different and at the same time marvellous.
In San Francisco, California I went to a milonga and there was a giant projection of you guys playing. How do you feel knowing that people are listening to your music so far away from Buenos Aires?
That’s good, we always wanted people to listen to us and to identify with our music and that doesn’t have distance or borders.
How many CDs have you recorded?
We have three official CDs. ‘Envasado en Origén’ (2001), ‘Destrucción Masiva’ (2003), ‘Mucha Mierda’ (2006), and a pirated/official CD recorded live in Lichtenstein, Vivo en Europa (2005).
Are you working on the next one?
Yes, now we are preparing the next CD for 2008 in which the majority are new compositions and a few classics.
What are the orchestras plans for the future, another tour, maybe a movie…?
In the beginning of 2008 we will go to Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and then we will continue as usual in the CAFF. We are also going to edit our first video clip, which will be ready in January.
Orquesta Típica Fernández Fierro plays every Wednesday at 10.45pm at Club Atlético Fernández Fierro, CAFF, on Sánchez de Bustamante 764 in the Abasto. Tickets are $12. They also play on Saturdays at the CAFF at 11.45pm. For more information www.fernandezfierro.com