”Tango has not been made to sing about what one has got, but about what one has lost”
Spring was in the air, it was 2008, and I said: “I am going to do tango. In Norwegian.”
I was a long way from Skyt meg med tre roser (Shoot me with three roses) at that stage.
I went for long walks listening to tango on my iPod. I listened to the great tango stars Carlos Gardel, Roberto Goyeneche, Adriana Varela, Astor Piazzolla, Amelita Baltar and lots of others. Getting tango under my skin was one thing, choosing a handful of singers to be part of the release was quite another … It has been a painful process.
There is a whole universe of tango songs to choose from, and being a Norwegian artist without a background in the world of tango, there were no songs that stood out as totally obvious choices to me, perhaps with the exception of Cumparsita.
I started from scratch, which in many ways has been frustrating while at the same time liberating. When I did Piaf in Norwegian (read more about Mot himmelen i Paris on www.brittsynnove.no) most of the songs were an obvious choice. This was however a completely different world.
I have chosen songs from the very best of Argentinian tango and Shoot me with three roses includes songs right back to the early 1900s, from Carlos Gardell to Piazzolla’s nuevo tango.
I have been developing the idea of doing tango in Norwegian for a long time. Through my work with Piaf’s songs, I have become more and more convinced that tango is a natural step forward. While Piaf sang about love, longing is the primary driving force of tango. But it is the big feelings, intensity and drama which are at the basis for both Piaf and tango.
I have reworked the existing tango lyrics in my own Karmøy dialect. Myself included, the majority of Norwegians do not speak Spanish well enough to understand the Argentinian tango texts fully. I know from my experience with the Piaf project that everybody gains a closer and completely different view of music when they understand what is being sung.
While tango in Norway is best known as dance, in the Spanish-speaking world the genre is equally well known for its music and lyrics. Over the years, some of Argentina and Uruguay’s foremost songwriters and poets have composed fantastic tango songs that will stand the test of time. My aim with Shoot me with three roses is to get Norwegian people to understand the amazing treasures contained in these texts and music.
The translation was an exciting process. Spanish is not just Spanish, at least not in tango. The tango texts are full of slang, so-called lunfardo. This form of slang arose when hundreds of thousands of men immigrated to Buenos Aires to look for work at the end of the 1800s. The men came mainly from Italy and Spain and most of them settled in the poor area around in the port in the La Boca district. Lunfardo was spoken by the working classes in and around Buenos Aires, but also in Montevideo, Uruguay. The words often had double meaning with undertones of sex, drugs and references to the criminal underworld. Translating these texts to Norwegian was no easy task.
In February ’09, I travelled to Buenos Aires to see the places described in the songs, to walk in the streets and sit in the cafes. I had to experience the atmosphere in city where it all began, where tango was born. I went to a large number of concerts, both classical tango and tango in the modern form, nuevo tango. It was a fantastic experience.
To make a good tango record, you need good tango musicians. I am very proud to be able to present the musicians who took part in Shoot me with three roses. They all have a great deal of experience with tango and are very skilled within the genre. The violinist Tor Jaran Apold and bassist Ole Amund Gjersvik come from the Bergen tango scene, while Andreas Rokseth and Håkon Magnar Skogstad are representatives of the young tango scene in Trondheim. I am forever indebted to these guys for sharing their knowledge of tango so generously with me.
The recording was done live in an old church in Jæren during the course of five days in August 2009. The project’s producer is Janove Ottesen, known as the front man of the band Kaizers Orchestra (www.kaizers.no). Some might find the choice of producer surprising, as Janove is known primarily as a rock musician and not a tango aficionado. But this was a conscious choice. I already had connoisseurs of tango in the musicians. The most important factor in the choice of producer was to find a musical person who understands the importance of the energy in the music that arises during live recordings. All of Kaizers records are recorded live and Janove’s input into the process, from the arrangement to technical recording expertise has been invaluable to the project.
Besides, Janove is a very dedicated man who works hard with the projects he gets involved in. With him on board, a project is guaranteed a producer who perseveres and inspires everybody to up their game – as Janove certainly did.
His unmistakable vocals can also be heard on three of the tracks on Shoot me with three roses.
The album was mixed by Yngve Sætre in Duper Studio in Bergen. Both the recording, the producer and the mix emphasizes the organic, dynamic and atmospheric expression of the project.
Pianist Håkon Magnar Skogstad has been playing the piano since he was seven years old. He is a performing student of classical music at the Norwegian Academy of Music. As a tango pianist, he has been taught by amongst others Cristian Zárate in Buenos Aires. Håkon Magnar is a regular pianist in Tangueros del Norte, in addition to being a member of several smaller tango line-ups.
Bandoneonist Andreas Rokseth has been playing since he was 11 years old. He has received several grants and won first prize in 2008 in the bandoneon category in the international competition Akkerdeon Wetbewerb. Andreas plays in the well-known orchestra Tangueros del Norte (www.tangueros.no), but also takes part in several projects, including his own solo performances.
Violinist Tor Jaran Apold was among the founders of the critically-acclaimed tango quartet Combo Tango and the Sedici Corde string quartet. He has contributed to a large number of concerts, performances, TV appearances and recordings.
Bassist Ole Amund Gjersvik has worked as a performer, composer and arranger since the middle of the 80s. He has taken part in countless record releases and stage productions at the Bergen theatre Den Nationale Scene, in addition to touring with amongst others Karl Seglem, Kenneth Sivertsen/Bendik Hofset, Trang Fødsel and Ole Paus/Ketil Bjørnstad. He has released six critically-acclaimed records in his own name and two with Combo Tango (www.combotango.com).
Ole Amund has also arranged all of the songs on Shoot me with three roses with the exception of And I will never forgive you (Og eg tilgir aldri deg), which was arranged by Håkon Magnar Skogstad.