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Interview: Tiga

The veteran DJ, producer and leader of the Turbo label, Montreal's Tiga, talks about perceptions, complications and longtime collaborator Jori Hulkkonen.

By Bruce Tantum

Time Out New York: The last time TONY covered you or Turbo was about nine months ago, when the label released the New Jack Techno compilation, a set of tough-as-hell electronic tunes. Do you think that collection surprised many people?
Tiga: Yeah, I think it did. At least some people—those that have been following me or the label for some time—weren’t exactly shocked, because we’ve always had some techno floating around. But Turbo has a history of being a little all over the place; I personally do as well. So to have that sound so concentrated, and to present it as such a clear statement, probably did surprise people. Pleasantly, I hope.

Time Out New York: It seems as though that release signaled the beginning a particularly active period for you and the label. Does it feel that way to you?
Tiga: New Jack Techno definitely got a lot of press, which was nice, and it also coincided with a lot of our artists, like Duke Dumont, getting a lot of attention. And soon after that, I had a mix-CD and a single. So really, it just has to do with release cycles; sometimes a bunch of stuff just builds up, and then it all comes out at the same time. But for any label or artist, once you’ve been around for a long time, people remember how you were introduced to them, and that’s how you get categorized. When you have some kind of legacy—if that’s not too strong a word—it gets harder and harder to get people to have a fresh take on you. And I think that maybe New Jack Techno did make people look at us a bit differently, and perhaps people are just thinking and talking about us a bit more.

Time Out New York: I’m guessing that your 2001 breakthrough tune, a cover of “Sunglasses at Night,” was how a lot of people first became familiar with you. It’s hard to believe that was 12 years ago.
Tiga: I know!

Time Out New York: And now you’re about to release a new single called “Trust Your Body” with your production partner on “Sunglasses at Night,”, Jori Hulkkonen. I was just listening to the Danny Daze remix of that track on SoundCcloud, and at one point, you’ve added a voiceover stating that you’ve had a “magically complicated” year.
Tiga: Did I say that? Oh yeah, I did—that was from my radio show. Yes, it has been a very complicated year for me, actually.

Time Out New York: I hope it’s been complicated in a good way, if that’s possible.
Tiga: Can complicated ever be really good? Let’s say a semigood way. I think calling something complicated can mean you just don’t know how things are going to turn out yet. You’re just hedging your bets.

Time Out New York: If “Trust Your Body” is any indication, you’re going to be fine—it’s a fun song. What is it that makes you want to keep working with Hulkkonen?
Tiga: There’s a real comfort factor; we’re very good friends. And we have this semisurreal history together that exists totally outside of everything else. It’s not part of the scene, so there are no rules. It’s very innocent, really—we’re just making music together.

Time Out New York: Another new release is the Innervisions collaboration, with that label’s Âme and Dixon both remixing your “Plush” track. They’re both great versions—but a few people have mentioned to me that you and Innervisions seem like an odd match.
Tiga: Dixon and I have been friends for a while. I played their annual party at Panorama Bar this year, and it was just fantastic. They really liked “Plush,” and they asked to do it. On the surface, I can see how people can think it might be an odd match—and actually, that’s a part of the complications that we were talking about. There are complications of genre—and that’s something that affects everyone, not just me. There’s a perceived divide between Turbo and Innervisions as far as energy goes; people think of Turbo as being big, main-room stuff, whereas Innervisions might seem to have a deeper, housier feel. Those are valid thoughts—but like anything, it’s a bit more complicated than that. There are loads of Innervisions records that I love, and hopefully there are some Turbo records that they love. We are very different labels with different sounds, but there is common ground.

Time Out New York: Dixon, in particular, has a pretty wide-ranging sound as a DJ.
Tiga: Dixon is a fantastic DJ. The salient feature of a fantastic DJ, at least to me, is that they have taste and that they can find their tracks in unexpected places. Apparently, they heard something in “Plush,” and I was really honored by that. It’s a very strange record; it’s not an obvious record; it doesn’t fit neatly into a category. So I was very happy they liked it.

Time Out New York: You have an album in the pipeline. What can you tell me about that?
Tiga: [Laughs] I wish! I’m looking forward to the day that I know exactly what to say to that. I would say…it’s started. I haven’t hit that critical mass yet, where I know exactly where it’s going. But I do have a bunch of songs written, and it’s going pretty well. There’s a target to have it finished in the summer, and I’ve taken some time off touring in order to make that happen. I have a long list of collaborators, some of them real and some potential. As usual, I’m wrestling with the song-versus-track thing, like I always do—but this time, I’m hoping to resolve it. And I really want to have an album right now, which sounds obvious, but isn’t always the case. I’m having more trouble than usual in finding music to play, and that’s usually a good time to make stuff. You can fill your own needs.

Time Out New York: You’re about to head down to Miami for what we old-timers used to call Conference Week. It looks like you’re going to be pretty busy down there.
Tiga: Yeah, I think I’m doing four parties. There’s Ultra, there’s the Visionquest thing, a Pete Tong thing, and Get Lost, the Crosstown Rebels thing.

Time Out New York: On top of that, you have the new Turbo Miami Lifestyle compilation, and a Turbo party at Electric Pickle. Obviously you think that Miami is still a significant stop on the dance-music DJ circuit.
Tiga: Yeah. I’ve always had an odd relationship with the official dance-music destinations, like Miami or Ibiza. I’ve never really camped out at those places like some people. I had actually stopped going to Miami, and now I’ve started going again. But Miami usually ends up being fun, and I do think it’s important for the label to have a night there. Plus, it’s good to show your face and do a few parties. And there’s the warm weather, and you always meet new people. That’s where I met Jori! So there are certainly worse things in life than going to Miami.

Follow Bruce Tantum on Twitter: @BruceTantum


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