Walter Laborde

Real name: Laborde, Walter
Nicknames: El Chino
(18 August 1972 - )
Place of birth:
Avellaneda (Buenos Aires) Argentina
Ricardo García Blaya

omeone talked me about a Chinese who sings tangos. In fact, he was more porteño than a bife de chorizo (sirloin rump steak). Otherwise, try ordering one at the East of New York, at the Montparnasse in Paris or at Piazza Navona in Rome.

I saw him for the first time in the movie Luna de Avellaneda —his hometown—, impersonating Alberto Castillo. He appears singing at a dancehall in a neighborhood club in the 40s.

He comes out with flying colors either as actor or as vocalist because he does it quite well. This is something rather uncommon in the singers nowadays.

When I say that he does it well I mean that he has a good intonation and knows how to join phrases with a legato sound. And what is more important to me: he sings and interprets, both things together without false gimmicks.

His role as Castillo, even though is short in the film, is soberly performed without turning to either an exaggeration or a caricature of the character. He is aided by his look of Buenos Aires boy, with a manly figure, elegant and charming, and a smile that adorns his face.

Researching about Walter Laborde, besides the help of the Internet searchers, I found some copies of newspapers and magazines. So I came to know some aspects of his personality and his career. Also, of course, I listened again to his discs to find inspiration for this portrayal.

«I was nurtured with tango when I was a kid, by my grandfather, my Mom and the Sarandí’s asphalt», he confessed to the Página/12 newspaper in an interview made by Cristian Vitale in March 2005. Then he also mentioned a past linked to soccer in clubs of the southern area.

Also the relationship with his grandfather that was a bandoneon player and who encouraged him towards his future career, but above all, he was someone very important in the singer’s life.

He appeared for the first time at the Teatro Presidente Alvear, as member of the cast in the play Discepolín y yo written by Bernardo Carey and Betty Gambartes in 2003.

He is the singer of the Orquesta Fernández Fierro led by the pianist Julián Peralta. It is comprised by young guys with an informal outlook who enthusiastically adhere to Osvaldo Pugliese’s style.

His labor with the Fernández Fierro is not an obstacle to appear with another interesting aggregation, the Sans Souci Orchestra which is inspired in the repertoire and style of Miguel Caló.

Something striking is his inclination to sing rock music. In an interview by Sebastián Ramos, he says about it: «I sing rock almost as a therapy. In rock, I camouflage myself, I’m a singer that wants to be people, I allow myself to be another one. But when I sing tangos, instead, I’m El Chino, without makeup. Because I’m a tango singer who has the hobby of singing in a rock band».

Another thing, also curious, is his work as actor, presenting the erotic series Tango, danza prohibida (forbidden dance) aired by the Playboy cable channel.

With the Fernández Fierro he succeeded in recording on two occasions: Envasado en origen, in October and November 2001 and Destrucción masiva in August 2003.

With his friend, the guitarist Diego Kvitko he recorded in 2006 another disc entitled Tango Tango with two standouts: his rendition of "Antiguo reloj de cobre” and Kvitko’s “Milonga de carnaval”.

With the Sans Souci he recorded, among other beautiful numbers: “Después”, “Que te importa que te llore” and “Marión”.

Furthermore, he appears in a DVD, Buenos Aires, días y noches de tango, with an introduction by Horacio Ferrer, that also features the Leopoldo Federico Orchestra and the guitar group led by Horacio Avilano. Walter sings: “Barrio pobre”, “Mensaje” and the waltz “Bajo un cielo de estrellas”.

We expect that this pleasant boy of Buenos Aires will not change his way of singing because, according to our taste, he has a successful present and a great future.