In an age where things come and go in the blink of a tweet, brilliance is a commodity in short supply. There is one cool Canadian DJ/producer who is indisputably brilliant, and he's no up-and-comer. He has been around, and he is going to be around, making sure crowds are all night dancing. The character I speak of is "Bugatti" mastermind & Turbo Recordings maestro Tiga.
"I find that a lot of techno and house got super boring ... it's got no edge to it."
He has worked with the notable likes of James Murphy Soulwax and Matthew Dear and he effortlessly puts out hit after hit, so his credibility is well established. I could list all the facts, but his music is just so damn good. He imbues his masterful songs with so much personality and his distinctive voice. They are the type of records that stick with you and you love the fact that they never go away.
As far as electronic music goes, Tiga is an artist you need to spend some time with for the good of your mind, body and soul. I was fortunate enough before his recent Lights Down Low show in San Francisco to actually spend time and see what Tiga is up to, and what he has to say about all the important things in life.
What is new in the world of Tiga?
Tiga: I have new music that I've done which I'm feeling pretty good about. I tested out a few new tracks last night in LA. I have some music I've done with Boys Noize. First time we've done music, we've been friends for a long time, and I played a few of them last night, they sounded great.
For me, I talk a lot. I talk a lot of shit and I think a lot too. There's a lot going on but the music is still the center of everything so when I have new music that really feels very good and that's usually the source of everything. I talk less when there is music, let the music do the talking.
There's some new music and there's a lot of touring and planning for a live show in the summer and planning to finish my album which has been a few years overdue.
Over the last year or 2 you've been delivering hit after hit with “Bugatti”, “Let's Go Dancing”, “Fever.” When can we expect the next big thing?
Tiga: I'm trying to decide. You don't fully decide what the next big track is, but I'm trying to decide right now what the next single is. There are a few different candidates. I'm not sure which one yet, definitely one of the tracks with Alex (Boys Noize). I think that is a pretty big record.
It's such a singles world now where you just keep putting out singles and it does pretty well, so deciding how much to hold back for an album or how much to keep to your singles is a bit of a trick. There is definitely going to be a new single out in the next few months so hopefully that'll be another hit.
"...courage is a way to fight off death, in a way."
With how prolific you are, it seems like we always get a little treat every few months.
Tiga: It's been good lately. The good part about the album being delayed is it's not like it's getting delayed for no reason. There is a lot of music that's built up in this period so that's reassuring. It feels good. I'm sitting on a good amount of music that's been built up.
Is there a Tiga creative philosophy? A set of principles or standards you always adhere to?
Tiga: I have criteria for when something's done. It sounds really simple but I have to really love a track. A lot of the dance floor tracks have to perform. They actually get tested and the reaction is on the dancefloor. The tracks have to work so it would be like a stand-up comic testing out a bit. It has to work and not just in one environment. It has to consistently work enough that you know, okay, it's done.
With the dance tracks it's a bit of empirical. It is experiments. As far as the creative process, what seems to have emerged is a good beat and a little vocal idea and a couple of samples.
"I don't know if it's just [some DJs are] boring people or that they're afraid to throw up too much dynamics"
There's so much personality in all of your music as well.
Tiga: That's part of it. When I say a little vocal idea, it sounds simple but it's not because the idea that the vocals has become, I try to distill a little bit of humor, some personality. I try to distill a bunch of the elements into something quite small. Something raw and streamlined.
“Bugatti” is a good example. It's a simple line delivered very simply. It was made extremely quickly, and if you break it down, there's only about 4 things happening. In that sense it's almost underproduced on purpose, but I guess that's my philosophy. It delivers the message, it delivers a personality, and has a distinct feel without screaming and shouting what it is and I like that, especially when it comes to vocals and to that message. It's almost like advertising. I try to get a certain feeling in the least amount of words possible.
Last thing, I try not to repeat myself, and that's not so I get some credit or whatever, it's more for myself. I get bored quickly and so the idea is every time you're back in a studio, you're back in a room and you're just trying to make something new that excites yourself and you feel proud about and you want to play for your friends and that's it.
How would you assess the state of electronic music today?
Tiga: It's a pretty good time right now. The scene, I think is pretty good. Parties and touring, there's a lot of enthusiasm now and it feels really healthy and really big, the scene right now.
You have so many people now that are really into electronic music. Whether they were a little bit late or not doesn't really matter and they're all looking for good music. You feel it as a DJ and you feel it while you're touring that there's a lot of excitement and new energy and youthful enthusiasm and that counts for a lot.
For me, making music, there's things that I would have made 10 years ago that I would have been thrilled about and now I'm like, "Well, that's pretty boring" and that's my perspective. Where I'm at, it changes so I don't know if it's a golden age in music right now.
I feel like it's a really good time for the overall energy, especially in dance music. There's a lot of always amazing music being made, it all depends on what scene you're in. Overall it's a super exciting time in a lot of ways. Not musically but in every other way it reminds me a lot of the 90s. It’s not culturally new. It doesn't have that same element of we're going to change the world or the utopian side to it but now you show up at parties and they're really up for it. They're young and it's new and they're so excited and it feels a lot like how it felt in the old days.
Musically, I could deal with a new, really exciting genre right now. Here's my only beef. The only thing I bitch about. I find that a lot of techno and house got super boring. I feel like there's a bass line, a conservative style that's quite boring. You hear it a lot in Ibiza and a lot of the tech house and the so-called deep house and it's got no edge to it.
There's a conservatism that never existed. There are a lot of DJs that play that flat style and I don't know if it's just that they're boring people or that they're afraid to throw up too much dynamics. It's a safe route but I think everyone falls into the traps sometimes. It's a vicious cycle because you get these crowds at more commercial clubs or big places in Ibiza, they're used to that range. Track goes, goes, goes, they chug along, this big chhh, white noise, breakdown and they're almost not used to crazier, more dynamic, weirder music. When they hear it, they don't really know what to do and a lot of DJs get stuck a bit in that trap.
"...That puts him up with the greats; with Prince or Bowie."
I do think, for example with house music, what's a little bit weird is you can still pull out a house record from 25 years ago and it slams. That's a bit weird. In that sense, I hope that it hasn't gotten to be like rock and roll where you pull out an old punk record that is better than a new punk record.
What you see also is you have so many kids because of how they research records on the web, which is fantastic, but there's a lot more borrowing from the past than there used to be. The original Chicago guys weren't listening to old, they weren't going back to old records to try to make their sound.
The most important thing I always like to say is that there's always innovation happening. There's always people making amazing records, usually it's just a question of having to find them and sometimes it's a bit trickier now to find them.
Since it's on your record case, you're a rather outspoken supporter of Aphex Twin. Has he been a major inspiration or creative influence?
Tiga: He hasn't been a creative influence because I've never tried to emulate him. I've never tried to copy the music. The music I make is completely different in every way but he's been a major part of my life musically, just as a fan.
He's consistently soundtracked my life longer than anybody else, and let's just say soundtracked at very sensitive neurological psychedelic moments. With certain kinds of music, especially when you bring drugs into the equation, there's people you trust with your mind and he's top of the heap. He's the king.
His music, the only parallel I think is that thing about being different and being a genuine personality and he's managed to do that without revealing so much. He's done it in clever ways and in that sense, it doesn't matter what style of music you make, that puts him up with the greats; with Prince or Bowie. He's a completely original, interesting character but more than anything he makes just phenomenal music. What's incredible about his shit is how it doesn't date. It's just completely insane. You can pull out a record from 20 years ago, it doesn't matter and he's incredibly cool. It's also nice too because he is actually cool. I'm still old-fashioned enough that I care about cool and in electronic music, cool is in limited supply and he's got it. I love him.
What is one deep thought that you have had recently?
Tiga: How important it is to be courageous and brave in everything you do, especially if you're in a creative field. I guess how courage is a way to fight off death, in a way.
Because I think a lot of people are safe or conservative but in a way they're afraid of really going all out and they're afraid of really experiencing things to the fullest or almost maybe being too happy or too alive because it's going to be harder to let go when you die.
There's a lot of hedging of bets that goes on and I think in this time especially, holding things back. Holding things back in your life, holding things back in your relationships, holding things back in your music and oddly, without making this too much about society and technology or whatever, I think there is definitely a lot of apparatus right now that lets you get a false sense of contact and development because we get it in all these micro doses.
It's important to really go for it in whatever you do, to really, really, really do the work. Identify yourself, who you are, what you want. We'll stick to the creative side for now, and to really be brave and really go for it and that's the chance to have a good life and be happy and to achieve what you want creatively.
Now, check out a few photos of Tiga absolutely crushing it at Monarch in San Francisco for Lights Down Low's Spend the Night with Tiga party! All party photos by the extremely talented Holy Mountain Photography.
Photo Credit: Holy Mountain
Photo Credit: Holy Mountain
Photo Credit: Holy Mountain