Argentine Hernán Cattáneo Reflects on Four Sold-Out Shows at Legendary Colón


One the highlights the Unicos festival was seeing Argentine house DJ Hernán Cattáneo selling out four symphonic shows at the legendary Buenos Aires opera house, the Colón Theatre. Now, after the monsoon, he shares with Billboard Argentina the story and reveals his next project: “I want to do something experimental at the CCK.”

It was the end 2016. Mauricio Macri was finishing his first year as president, and the “manso indie” was only in its embryonic stage. Drake became a meme his “Hotline Bling” video, and Babasónicos was readying a show at the Colón, firing up once again the debate whether it was a place for rock 'n' roll. In that context, Cattaneo picked up a call by his friend and partner Cruz Pereyra Lucena, asking if he'd like to play in the Colón. “Are you joking? I'd run back,” Cattáneo recalls.

Unicos' proposal was to take popular and contemporary music in a symphonic format. Besides Cattáneo, the stage was taken that same week by figures such as Joan Manuel Serrat, Luis Fonsi, Lali Espósito and Tini Stoessel, among others.

To many people's surprise, the announcement the show sufficiently generated enough curiosity enough that the tickets sold out. “We accepted the invitation with humility and eagerness, feeling we had an opportunity proving we were worth the while, because electronic music at the Colon was not something many people saw eye to eye with,” Cattáneo shared. “We had to prove that we deserved being there.”

How did you approach the mixing risks at the Colón? One more millisecond and everything could go haywire.

“That was one the biggest challenges. I had 50 the best musicians in Buenos Aires, but they had never played over electronic music. We had to work as a Swiss clock because if the orchestra wasn't in sync with what we did, it was going to be noticeable.

“Contrary to them, we had an infallible digital sequencer; musicians, as good as they could be, never do it the same twice, they are flesh and blood. It's something for which electronic music is criticized and defined as cold. But we rehearsed to perfection. We were terribly stressed. If anything went wrong, the whole thing would seem amateurish.”

Today, many genres have electronic elements. Even rock, which is the most conservative. Are we in a moment total fusion?

“On the one hand, rock in Argentina has always been very narrow minded in conceptual terms — not so musically. I mean, they say that in order for it to be rock, you need a guitar, a bass and a drum. If you add a beat box, they say 'No, that isn't rock.' Those conservative beliefs put limits on its growth.

“Meanwhile, in the world electronic music, it has always been more open minded, maybe because the only thing you have to do is make people dance. In the rest the world, it is already evident that electronic music is here to add value. There are no limits now. You can't go around saying 'This is rock' or 'This is Latin' or whatever.”