Tiga’s second album will be called Ciao! Its Canadian author has touched down for a brief stint in London to talk about it.
It’s a bit contrary to be talking about goodbyes – after all, we’ve only just said “hello” to him. But as he nears the end of a crowded press day, a radio session beckons; the car to take him there is on its way. But he doffs his cap, grins mischievously and beckons us to a seat.
He’s been Twittering a lot of late, taking a lighthearted dig at how little some music journalists understand about his music, so after a deeper breath than normal this seems a good topic to start with. Does he care that much about the reception to his new record?
He grins again, and nods. “I’m just getting feedback at the moment, as up until now I’ve been in my own little world. The people who work for me, my friends and my family – I would say they definitely cannot be trusted! It’s strange, though, when you put your music out there, it feels like you’re never going to like it for some reason”.
Does that mean he’s apprehensive? “Not really. I think it’s more curiosity. I’ve made something I love. I don’t think I could have done something that I wasn’t that keen on. What I’m really interested to hear is which songs everyone likes, and whether there are some songs no-one cares about.”
This album is a record of two sides, though not in a quaint vinyl-era sense. It’s Tiga working on his own, versus Tiga working with producers such as Soulwax, Gonzalez and James Murphy. He thrives on the two aspects. “When you can do collaborations, you end up with discussions. We tend to have those debates in the morning, and it’s nice when you hear other people’s opinions. Not that I’m overly concerned with what people think, but music is like if you fast forward through the songs, what are they about?”
Humour plays an important part in his music. “I think it’s really important to get a sense of humour into your life,” he smiles, “otherwise it gets so miserable. I think comedy is the most important thing in my life, if I’m honest. It’s quite British, though – maybe it’s because I’m from the Commonwealth! It’s definitely increasing. Music should never be funny for the sake of it, I don’t think, but detecting something behind the scenes is a big part of it for me. You listen to Prince, for example and he doesn’t take himself too seriously. A sense of humour is like an intelligent thing I think.”
It’s a sense revealed most vividly in his cover versions. He smiles again. “Yeah, though they are respectful as well. In music so many people take themselves so seriously, and when I did Hot In Herre, I loved the original song. Then I said, ‘I’m gonna rap on top’, and did the deadpan style. It’s not a grand strategy.”
Alongside the humour, Ciao! does nonetheless contain music of serious depth – not least the closing Love Don’t Dance Here Anymore – “I guess it’s on a totally subjective level”, he says. He’s tried out the new material on UK clubbers as well, dropping the bass heavy Mind Dimension in a recent set at Matter. “I did”, he grins, “and it was massive. I nearly forgot to play it though! That was exceptionally forgetful, given it was from my new album. I didn’t have very high hopes for matter, I must admit, but it was actually really good, with an amazing sound, and the crowd was very open”.
Talk turns to influences, and I ask him about electronic acts to have made a lasting impact on his music. Having been offered the Pet Shop Boys as a token, he accepts. “They have been pretty inspirational. A lot of people have said that about my music, though to be honest I was never a huge Pet Shop Boys fan. I did love particular songs, but I never fell in love with them like I did Depeche Mode. The first for me was Duran Duran, though. I remember buying the cassette of their album when it came out, and I listened to it over and over. My favourite was Planet Earth, though there was a weird one called Tel Aviv that I loved”.
Recording with Soulwax seems to have been a particular inspiration to Tiga. “We had a really good time together”, he says. “They’ve become really close friends, we’ve met each other’s parents and everything like that. The sheer volume of time we’ve spent together is pretty shocking! I can’t sing their praises enough. Really they are more than friends – they really believe in me, and they’re very generous with their time and energy. If they weren’t in my life it would be very different – they’re great guys.”
Such a glowing tribute prompts me to ask if it was a danger he would allow the album to become less like him and more about other people? “Definitely”, he responds. “That’s the big danger when you’re working with strong characters. Guys like James Murphy and Gonzalez, they’re strong characters. I don’t think there’s anything worse than giving over power like that though. If the second album was when Tiga got all his friends to make tracks for him it’s not good. It’s the conviction of having your own ideas, of sticking with them and not being bullied. I think my music has personality and stands up on its own.”
Tiga is on tour at the moment as a DJ, but has he considered live performance? He sighs a little. “I’d like to, I really would, but it’s like a fork in the road. I think it would work like a disco, maybe even a techno set with a live drummer. I’ve never had a band before, so it would be weird! But it’s something I’ll have to think about.”
His car has arrived. A parting question then – given his talent for original cover versions, what is his favourite at the moment? “It’s the Antony and the Johnsons cover of Leonard Cohen‘s If It Be Your Will”, is the immediate response. “You have to see the performance though, watch it on YouTube and you get the full effect. It’s one of the top five you ever saw in your life!”