Tiga: “You’re only as good as your last record”
It’s easy to forget that Tiga began his tenure in club music with crossover hits Sunglasses At Night and Pleasure From The Bass over a decade ago, as something of a quirky and irreverent leader to the electro movement. In 2016 he’s evolved into a techno hero, a shift in style that began with his Ibiza-ruling anthem Let’s Go Dancing in 2013.
After a string of successful dancefloor singles in the years since, this month Tiga returned with his new album No Fantasy Required, his first full-length since Ciao! in 2009. Balancing electro-pop appeal with darker sounds, the new album is an upgrade to the Tiga sound so perfect it’s almost unearthly. On the eve of the release of No Fantasy Required, ANGUS PATERSON caught up with the Montreal tastemaker and found him in particularly sage form.
Looking back on your career, it seems your record with Audion Let’s Go Dancing really marked a transitioning point for you. Would you agree?
It was a great record for me at the time, because it kind of set the stage. You’re only really as good as your last record, and this is especially true with club records. It doesn’t give you much comfort if you had a big record ten years ago.
Let’s Go Dancing was important for me because if people think your records are “cool”, that’s good. But what’s more important is if DJs actually play your record, if it’s the record they reach for. Because when you’re DJing, if it’s a big party and the stakes are high, if that’s the record they actually reach for, that says a lot. In those moments, it’s not necessarily the “cool guy” that a DJ goes for, or the strange record, you want a record that you can count on. It was important for me to get back into that zone.
After that was Bugatti, which really was the big one, it was probably my biggest record ever. It gave me a lot of confidence, Bugatti. I already felt quite confident, but when you do a strange record, and it really succeeds totally on your own terms, you feel amazing.
Let’s Go Dancing was a little more calculated I guess.
Let’s Go Dancing was probably the most calculated record I’ve ever made. I used to joke on Twitter that I didn’t understand what tech house was, I barely understood the term. And then I went to a few parties, and I heard a lot of friends play, I spent some time in Ibiza. And then I’m like, ‘okay, okay, I kinda get it.’
Me and Matt [Dear, AKA Audion] were making all these weird records, and material also that ended up on my new album. I have a tendency to overthink things, and try to make things that are a little too ‘cool,’ and we both said, let’s try and make a record they’ll actually play in Ibiza. I was thinking of my friend Loco Dice, and I wanted to make a record that those guys would actually play. So in that sense it was actually quite calculated.
I should probably apply that determination more often, because sometimes it works. With dance music, what’s very important is that you know your destination. It’s something I used to be very good at, but I’m not quite as focused as I used to be. You need to really visualise and know, what am I crating this for? Dance music is very utilitarian in that sense. With lots of my records I made, I had the club in mind, I had the time of night, I had a specific feeling that I wanted to convey. I wanted a specific record that I could play at that club, at that time in the morning, to elicit that feeling. When you have a very specific target, you’re more likely to hit it.
What inspired you to put out No Fantasy Required on Counter Records instead of your own Turbo Recordings label?
It’s kind of nice when other people are stressed out over your shit. It’s just healthier. Business wise, I guess here’s sometimes certain advantages to keeping it all to yourself.
But I like the idea of other people taking risks on you, of other people betting on your career and being incentivised to work for you. When other people cough up their money and their resources, it means they really believe in your music. Whereas you yourself, when it’s just you and your own organisation… it’s a little bit like when your mother tells you that you look handsome. When you have a third party that you have to impress, and you still have to work for it, it keeps things a bit more honest. If you’re always doing it on your own label, things can get a little too indulgent too. Who’s gonna tell you that it sucks, or that it’s too long?
The other thing is that I’m incredibly uninterested in the process after the record comes out. I have no taste for marketing, PR or meetings, the strategies and the inner workings of the music business. Personally I can’t deal with that, so thank god there are people who are good at it.
A few years ago you said things were looking a little unprofitable for independent labels.
There were a few years when the record business was a little grim, but I have to say things are actually quite healthy right now. For one thing there’s the numbers. There are just so many people now, so many DJs, so many parties and so many festivals. There’s more sponsors again, there’s a lot more money floating around in general. And with dance music specifically, sales are strong. Business wise, the past two or three years for Turbo have probably been the most profitable ever.
“With dance music, what’s very important is that you know your destination”
There was definitely a certain doom and gloom that existed for a few years where everyone was bitching and complaining, but that seems to have passed. It’s possible that a lot of people got filtered out. I think between alongside the EDM boom, there was a changing of the seasons, with a lot of the old guard dying out along with the new people exploding. What’s left now business-wise is pretty healthy. Though that’s not necessarily related to quality, of course.
What are your plans for the live show this year?
The live show has been a real pleasure, it’s just been fun. It reminds me of why I got into techno in the first place, and it was the biggest thing to happen last year. The plans are to expand and continue it, as it’s been really successful. I’m doing my first US shows in March, some festivals in Europe during the summer, and then a proper world tour starting around September.
There are discussions in the works for Australia, for sometime towards the end of the year, which I’d love to do. And the live thing is really nice after so many years of DJing. I’m not reinventing the wheel, but you can show up and really give people what they want. I’m singing all my songs, the old ones and the new ones, but it feels like you’re returning with something new.