Born to a DJ who helped pioneer the party scene in Goa, India, Tiga seemed destined to proliferate the rave scene he now rules. As a self-described “rave and acid-house graduate from the early 90s,” the Montreal-based veteran DJ and dance music producer truly built the dance music scene in his hometown from the ground up. Emerging from a month-long stint in India as a teenager, Tiga began throwing small, intimate parties in Montreal that culminated in the city’s first official rave, Solstice, in 1993. The following year, he bought DNA Records, transforming it into a thriving, vital independent record store and hub for dance music aficionados; in 1996, he took things one step further by buying a dance club called Sona; two years after, that he founded his own label, Turbo Recordings.
The label is what directly launched Tiga’s own music career, but the surrounding context and his lifelong ties to the rave scene feel equally important. He graduated from remixes to original singles, and ultimately entire albums. His first official full-length, Sexor, came out in 2006, followed up by Ciao! in 2009. For the next seven years, he steadily pumped out singles and toured internationally as a DJ, but didn’t release a full album’s collection worth of songs. Until the advent of 2016 brought the announcement of No Fantasy Required, his third album out today via Counter Records.
“It certainly wasn’t a conscious choice,” he said of the gap, over the phone from Montreal. “It was just a combination of life being a really busy, me being a little lazy, and nobody giving me a deadline.” No Fantasy Required is a heady mix of his techno and rave roots, with a twist of acid house and plenty of co-writers and collaborators. Included here are excerpts of our conversation about the record’s pivotal title track, working with Hudson Mohawke, and and the song he would’ve played for David Bowie, given the chance.
You wrote in the liner notes that the title-track, “No Fantasy Required,” was the centerpiece. Can you expand on that?
It was one of the last songs I did, and I just really liked it. I’m e always looking for something that feels new enough to justify a new chapter. I was looking for something that bookended things. It gave me a reason to say, ‘Okay, now this is an album.’ It didn’t even have to be the best track. That one felt new, and it felt like I touched on a new kind of sound, something I hadn’t done before. I liked the title and what it was about—that song brought it all together for me.
What was the process for working on “Planet E” with Hudson Mohawke on “Planet E?”
He’s not somebody in my immediate circle, or who I tour with, but we got to be friends. Usually you have a mutual admiration for each other’s music. At least, I really like his music. So we set up a studio day in London and spent like 36 hours going crazy and talking, laughing, drinking, and hanging out. In a way it’s setting the stage. After that, we just made the track in like an hour. Some tracks are just tracks, there isn’t much story. It’s purely serendipity; it’s just the moment. If it had been made a day later, we would’ve made a totally different track. We’ll definitely work together a lot more—I think he’s a very special person, ridiculously talented.
I also wanted to talk a little bit about “Three Rules” the track you wrote with Matthew Dear, because it sounds so specific and so personal.
There’s two kinds of songs — there’s things that are personal and where there’s a character. The character is an exaggeration of the truth, a deliberately bombastic and exaggerated version of who I am. Those are all things I do think about. There are also things I think in-character make sense: the idea of a guy who never has to touch his own dick. In the end what it is, it’s like storytelling: you’re telling a story to someone. You naturally, part of being a storyteller, you’re not a news reporter, you’re adding accents here and there. You’re doing things for dramatic effect. You’re imaging the character, and the character is an exaggeration. So it’s true, in a sense that these are the things you believe, that you think about. In the end what it is, it’s like storytelling: you’re telling a story to someone.
It is so striking that you wrote “Plush” was the song you’d want to play for David Bowie if you ever got the chance. After his death, this seemed even more moving. What is it about that song that made it your choice for a moment like that?
Plush is the oldest track on the album. I jammed it out with my friend Jori [Hulkkonen] in the traditional way in Montreal—with a bunch of old vintage synths, stupid vocals, just really jamming and having fun. We recorded this weird little demo and I loved it, it had something but was very ghetto, very cheap. Later, I started working with Matthew Dear and showed him that demo and we built around it. I’m really proud of that one and I really, really like it. I don’t say that about all my records. But if I walked into a record store, or someone played it at a party, I’d be like ‘whoa.’ It’s the right balance of weird but not too indulgent. Lately I’m kind of into the idea of making something very strange that’s still accessible.