We don’t know about you guys, but we can never get a handle on that feeling when you finally see one of your faves behind the decks. Having spent lonely nights and sweaty gym sessions listening to them, the odd train trip and the regular brain trip busting their beats into your brain, one could understand the surrealism of seeing a favourite live and feeling just a lil’ bit starstruck.
This was the predicament in which I found myself in on Sunday afternoon, booty poppin’ in the throngs of the simultaneously sweaty and dusty orb that was Strawberry Fields Music Festival 2013. I suddenly saw that familiar cap, the hint of eyeliner, and one fuck of a structured nose reaching to shoot beats direct to my ears.
Smashing his way through the party orifices of Australia in a whirlwind tour which only included Strawberry Fields and a sideshow at the Imperial Hotel (a derelict-ly magical bar in Sydney’s inner west where any genitalia goes), Tiga’s stay was short, sweet and catered to the strange character he presents himself as.
The set was a blissful hour but received varied reviews from the crew, mostly due to his primary blasting of the new/experimental and personal favourites as opposed to his own hits (not counting new tracks ‘Lets Go Dancing’ and ‘Plush’ which rocked da house). For me, it felt like he was paying homage to his favourite artists and creating a vibe to match the whacked crowd – without having to constantly push his own goodies.
But after haphazardly stamping my feet for his set (which thankfully drowned out the sound of my shoes), I got to thinking about the man behind the decks. Here’s a man which has achieved something that’s becoming a rarity in the progression of the EDM sphere – he’s managed to create a timelessness in his music and character over a career of work – and I wanted to know how.
It seems that from the beginning, Tiga was out to straddle the music-image border, and wanted to do it right. Some photos from the ‘baby rave’ days of T demonstrate this pretty well. We can imagine that his local of Montreal was not exactly a style mecca, but dayumn, he was going to give it a good shot – bucket hat, posse and all.
Commenting on this very photo, Tiga stated;
‘One of the only pictures I have from the early days. This is one of my first real gigs in a club in Montreal. At the time I would get the back room while the big house guys played up front. I knew I was on the up… it’s summer of ’92 and I’m 18. Note the Stussy hat. I only had about 30 records, and had to really make every one count. Also note the homemade “MDMA” molecule tag around my neck. I’m pretty sure I left to Europe the next day, which would end up being my first trip to Love Parade and Berlin.’
DJ DB spoke of these Tiga’s ol’ days in his book ‘NO SKOOL LIKE THE OLD SKOOL’ with admiration; ‘
‘Even back then, he was always super stylish, and the impression I got was that he was as concerned as much with his visual presentation as the listening experience.’
It appears 30 records and visual presentation were already coming together to make some much loved tunes, including this awesome little snippet from the rave that was 92′:
The next year Tiga was absolutely smashing it on the Montreal scene, throwing his own parties and naturally playing the shit out of them, creating a cult following. Was it this merge of marketing skill which led to his future development of a personal brand? We think it’s definitely a contributor. Here’s an example of one of these; have a look for some other famous names and enjoy the thoughts of a bunch of 90s ravers enjoying ‘Psychedelic Mind Machines’, lol.
For the rest of the 90s, T continued to throw parties amongst travelling, creating tracks and establishing his niche sound of flamboyant techno. But it was in 2001 that he made serious headway in his global career by collaborating with Zyntherius on a cover of Corey Hart’s 80s hit ‘ Sunglasses at Night’. The track shot to number 2 on the UK National Singles Chart and was at number 1 on the MTV Dance Chart for over six weeks, not to mention blowing the minds of a fucktarded amount of other bodies. Basically, it smashed it, and with good reason. Synth + disjointed vocals + drops + a shizload of bass = DANCE.
Coming off the back of the success of ‘Sunglasses at Night’, it only made sense that the next step would be a full album. Surely enough, Sexor emerged in 2006 – with the collaborative help primary from Soulwax and Jesper Dahlback. Featuring awesome vocal skills, innovative androgynous sounds and beats that could go for days, the album hit up charts around Europe and made buzzings around the global dance scene.
It could be argued, however, that this was just a precursor to the smash hit that was the next album Ciao!, released in 2009. With all due respect, I agree with this argument, Ciao! bosses Sexor, as if it was the necessary stepping stone for him to reach a personal best. Released on his own label Turbo and international label PIAS, the album throws back to Soulwax and Dahlback, with the added input from dance royalty James Murphy. It is the absolute tits. It’s boppy, lyrical (but not too lyrical *EDM lover twitchy eye*) and just generally makes me feel sexy in that weird way like when a tranny holds your hand and you can smell sweet cologne on her. Mmm.
The most popular single on the album was undoubtedly ‘Shoes’, but they’re all pretty damn good. There’s even a bit the ol’ tear-enducing acoustic piano in the intro to ‘Love Don’t Dance Here Anymore’, showing that the guy has got a whole bundle of strings to his bow, and popularity in tow.
It feels like the only way is up for T. Since the success of Ciao he’s been hard at work. Collaborations, remixes, becoming one half of the smash ZZT (which released their album on Turbo in 2011 – check out Gessafelstien’s mix of their track Zzafrika – CREAM) and releasing the accurately titled Tiga: Non Stop mix. Much to the delight of fans everywhere he continues to release a plethora of tracks including the aforementioned ‘Lets Go Dancing’ (pretty much a wingman encapsulated in a song – cheers Tigs!) and sexy sex single ‘Plush’. ‘Lets Go Dancing’ also features on his latest smash of a mix for FACT.
Speaking to InTheMix, giving advice to young producers, Tiga so eloquently words a philosophy which he has seemed to follow throughout his career,
Keep an open mind, but try hard to avoid comparing yourself to anybody, even secretly in your own head. It is a path to ruin, or at best mediocrity.
As I stood at Strawberry Fields, dust flying into my nose and my eyes being caught by that of a sexy stranger, the feeling was anything but average. Under his cap, he smashed his set with as much flair as I had seen from him on paper for years. It might be the ‘herbal remedies’ talking, but at that moment I was in complete and utter white girl euphoria as I went dancing with Tiga.
[photos via Thump]