Music Interviews

Interview: Tiga


Tiga (Photo: Femme de Sarkozy)

A question for you – and please don’t take this the wrong way. Do you fantasise when you listen to pop music? Tiga does. In fact, for the Montreal electro wizard, it is an essential part of his work. “It always was as a listener, but when I’m making music, even more so. It’s what it’s all about. You listen, you dream of who you’re gonna be, wanna be, or something you don’t have. Fantasy is a very important part of art.”

Tiga is talking in support of his new album, called – appropriately – No Fantasy Required. So who would he put forward as pop’s best fantasist? “Prince is the name that jumps to mind. His stuff always seemed weird and personal, and with a very rich imagination. It wasn’t conventional or straight up, the way he dressed – that scene in Purple Rain where he’s in his bedroom and it’s a weird fantasy world, I love that. The idea is that when you’re alone and the idea’s incubating, the idea’s not ready – so it has to be a fantasy. The idea was playing on that – but what if the reality was so incredible that the fantasy is no longer required? Do we even want that?”

Already Tiga seems to be interviewing himself. “I thought that finding a partner would quell those voices in your head. Most people have those voices, that dialogue in your head. But what if you had total accomplishment? It’s an open-ended thing. Is that objective, is it creative? It’s quite unlikely it would happen, but I like the idea. I think it’s also something about being a captive on the wheel of desire, but not being fully captive. I’m just toying with the ideas but as usual don’t think it through fully, and think about it later.”

No Fantasy Required represents a new beginning for Tiga, who has relocated to Counter Records, an imprint at the Ninja Tune stable, for his new chapter. More of that anon, because although his task is promoting the new record, its music is already a thing of the past. “Am I moving on? Yeah, done. It helps you keep moving forward artistically but it’s also a little bit of a drag. The comfort when you need it of feeling accomplishment isn’t there, and you’re on to the next thing. It’s strange when you do press, I’m talking about it but I have to think ‘which is that track again’? I think a lot about memory, it’s kind of deliberate. It’s a subconscious habit that makes it easier to keep moving forward. If you really remember things you’re trapped, and feel like you’re still at high school. Having a horrible memory is incredible… until you can’t remember your name, or if you paid the bills.”

“Studio work gets highly intense, like an intense first date, so I can’t tolerate anyone who isn’t funny or who you can’t get on with…”

– Tiga

The implication that he has a high work rate on his productions is not necessarily accurate. “I’m not constant in my work, I’m like a regular musician. I don’t write music every day. I think about it, and I will DJ most weeks, but I don’t always write.”

When we talk about the new record, Tiga is keen to stress a different approach this time around. “I was quite careful. I wanted to make it shorter for one thing. I spend my life DJing in clubs and with dance music, and so I wanted to try to escape the conservative angle and get back to a classic album feeling. Putting a ballad in at no.4 (the track Having So Much Fun) is a classic move. But I don’t know anyone who listens to an album now, so I thought it best to make it short and make it interesting. It’s good if you can get 45 minutes in an album and be able to say that a lot of stuff happened. As soon as it starts to drag people will press skip, and that’s why making 12 dance tracks would just be wrong.”

No Fantasy Required features two close friends; Matthew Dear and Scissor Sisters front man Jake Shears. Is it fair to assume they have very different personalities, given Dear’s deep, resonant voice and the Shears falsetto? “I have never seen them in a room together, but you’re right. Jake’s very high on the spectrum, and him and Matthew are quite different. Both are very sweet, very kind people. I’m lucky as I work with people I really like. There are certain things I can’t tolerate, and that made a big difference with the recording of this album. I can’t be in a room with someone I don’t like for five minutes. I’m aware I’m lucky and sometimes in music you love someone’s work but can’t get on with them. Studio work gets highly intense, like an intense first date, so I can’t tolerate anyone who isn’t funny or who you can’t get on with. When I started making music I was just getting something finished and wasn’t so uptight…”

On the track Rules, Tiga states how rule no. 3 is that you “never fall in love with a Virgo”. Did he draw on personal experience for this observation? “In a sense – because I’m a Virgo. I don’t take it too seriously though. I guess I just meant it like ‘beware of falling in love with me’. There is actually a good case where you scratch the surface and analyse it there can be something there, but this is just me poking fun at making rules to live by through astrology.”

He goes on to confirm the single Planet E is not a homage to Carl Craig’s label – “It’s about the state of mind” – before we discuss his transfer to the Ninja Tune group of labels. “It’s been great so far,” he enthuses. “It was the first time I signed to a label based on the smart A&R guy. He is smart and opinionated, and he fought for what he thought was right. It was nice and I had never really had that before. It helped me keep things straight and finish the record up. The history of Ninja Tune is very cool, and very British. It is a genuine, slightly independent label, and with the state of the world now I think it’s very important. They’re still ambitious, too. I don’t know if I’m the easiest guy to deal with, but they’ve been great so far.”


Tiga (Photo: Femme de Sarkozy)

He manages the promotional cycle effortlessly, but beneath it Tiga is tiring of the brain space and time required for social media input. “I’m fed up. It’s nothing new, and we all know in our hearts how bad it is but we don’t act on it. I don’t want to get into it because it’s a boring topic, but I feel better the less I’m in contact. I don’t want to not be in contact – not like Howard Hughes! – but the constant noise, the give and take, it’s exhausting. It’s a question of anxiety too; it doesn’t make you feel amazing. I bought a new Bob Dylan box set just recently and I really want to just sit down and listen to it straight. People have lost sight of themselves. The real bad ass doesn’t have a phone.”

“People have lost sight of themselves. The real bad ass doesn’t have a phone.”

– Tiga

One prominent figure with a minimal social media presence was of course David Bowie – who just happens to be one of Tiga’s biggest heroes. “I think Bowie was such an interesting person. He was like a light, and just so intelligent. He was also so far ahead of the game – the things you’d only kind of thought about, he’d really already thought about. There’s a rigour there, and yet he existed without compromise and had kids, a wife, and money. Bowie was so caring, and so on the forefront with the technology, but would he be tweeting? I think there’s something really nice about not being able to share. That is what makes you who you are.”

He moves on to consider Bowie’s legacy. “My gut feeling is that no-one will achieve what Bowie achieved. I hope I’m wrong but it seems so pressure-cookered up now, it’s such an unusual state. There’s no negative with Bowie. I like the outsider but even more when he succeeds and there’s something about that aloneness too that is really appealing. It’s crazy what everyone tolerates in pop music but it’s in the job description I guess.”

We move on to talk about the extent of Bowie’s influence on Tiga as an artist. “His music didn’t have a specific influence on me like D.A.F., Soft Cell and Nine Inch Nails did – those people were more specific musical influences. With Bowie it’s a more deep seated thing. I remember a long time ago something a girlfriend of mine said. I was really into Bowie at the time, and we were talking about things, looking at some standard shots of real life, and I was asking, ‘Is it all going to work out for me?’

She said, ‘You make your own rules. Look at Bowie’. It sounds trite but he really did make his own rules. You can do it if you try. He’s different – the perfect storm. He looked better than everyone, he had one eye different from the other… but if you can take one or two of those things that he had then you’re in good shape. And he was funny, real funny – but the thing he really had, right at the top of the list, was intellectual curiosity. Take that out and things fall apart. That’s at the heart of everything, and you get better and better as time goes on.”

Tiga’s new album No Fantasy Required is out now through Counter Records. Tiga helms London’s XOYO every Saturday in April, May and June 2016 for ‘Tiga: nonstop’, featuring Laurent Garnier, DJ Hell, Matias Aguayo, Erol Alkan, Jori Hulkkonen and Hudson Mohawke. Tour dates and further information can be found at

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