20 Questions With Tiga: ‘I Like To Think We Make Dignified Bangers’

Tiga‘s Turbo Recordings has delivered fresh, inventive music reflecting the darkly alluring world of techno for 25 years, which is a pretty long time.

Today (Nov. 17), the Montreal-based producer and the label are celebrating this quarter century of existence with a 25-track compilation album, composed of music by a globe-spanning collection of artists including Seth Troxler, Spanish producer Adrian Marth, Chilean-German artist Matias Aguayo, Germany-based Biesmans and a 2manyDJs edit of Tiga’s own “Woke.” There’s also a flurry of other productions that exist in a place that’s simultaneously tough, cerebral and transcendent.

In other words, the compilation is made for the club, which has been the producer’s home away from home since he started releasing music in the late ’90s. Over time, Tiga has become a hero of the electronic realm with smart, consistent releases that hit emotional buttons without ever veering into cheesiness.

The Turbo 25 project comes amid new work from Tiga’s LMZ project, a collaboration with Hudson Mohawke that’s delivered resonant collaborations with Channel Tres and most recently, Jesse Boykins III. Here, Tiga reflects on the compilation, 25 years of Turbo, and how — while he’s occasionally considered throwing in the towel on the label — he’s “never considered quitting” music.

1. Where are you in the world right now, and what’s the setting like?

Amsterdam. I’ve been staring out my window like a house cat. Looks very alive.

2. What is the first album or piece of music you bought for yourself, and what was the medium?

With my own money: the first Duran Duran album. On cassette, bootleg Indian edition, at a hotel lobby giftshop in Bombay. 1981 or 82.

3. What did your parents do for a living when you were a kid, and what do or did they think of what you do for a living now?

My mother was a full-time mom, she took very good care of me and was always there for me. My dad was a stock trader. They were both extremely supportive from step one, even when I dropped out of school at 18. They knew their son, and knew how serious and passionate I was, and they supported me completely with zero judgment.

4. What’s the first non-gear thing you bought for yourself when you started making money as an artist?

Good question. A pair of Yamamoto boots.

5. If you had to recommend one album for someone looking to get into electronic music, what would you give them?

Aphex Twin, Selected Ambient Works.

6. What’s the last song you listened to?

Leonard Cohen, “It’s Torn.”

7. You spent the early years of your life in Goa, India. What are your strongest memories of that time? Did it set you up to be a producer?

I don’t think it set me up as a producer, but as a person I got used to being around wild people and got used to the idea it was okay to be different and strange. I also grew up around a lot of hippies and weirdos, so I always wanted to work hard to end up “successful.”

8. Goa trance, love it or leave it?

When it’s done well, I like it. But what I really love is just good trance that happens to be played in Goa.

9. How were the 25 tracks on the compilation collected and selected? What was the criteria for what made it on? Is there anyone you’re particularly excited about having on the compilation?

It was a collection of our existing family of artists and new artists that we have had an eye on. We sent out invite letters to everybody and then just had some back and forth with them. It is always quite informal. I was very happy to work with Matias Aguayo, because he’s one of my favorites and he delivered something really special.

10. What does this compilation say about the past/present/future of Turbo?

That we still do what we do.

11. The compilation’s album’s fine print that it was “made possible in part by the Government of Canada.” What did the Canadian government bestow upon the album?

We get some grant money for certain projects from the Canadian arts endowment. They support Canadian artists. Its tax money well spent.

12. Does Turbo have a brick-and-mortar headquarters? If so, paint us a picture of that space. If not, what’s your fantasy HQ?

We had a gorgeous office from about 2012 to 2018. It had a studio, a giant wall of fame with every single physical release mounted in order. We closed it pre-pandemic, and now it’s all laptops and remote control. But it’s my plan to open a new HQ in the next few years, on a mountain top in the countryside.

13. Twenty-five years is a respectable amount of time for any artistic endeavor. Was there ever a time in your career when you considered quitting? Do you see yourself making music and traveling the world in perpetuity?

I never considered quitting personally. Never. I obviously go in and out of the love affair with travel and touring, but generally it’s still an almost unbeatable occupation. As for the label: Yes. There were a few times over the years when I almost threw in the towel.

14. If you could time travel to any era of dance music, to when would you go and why?

I would have liked to go to a few legit early acid house parties: early 80’s Ibiza, late ’80s U.K. I also would have loved to have been to some serious Belgian industrial/new beat clubs at inception. I would love to have been at a club like the Hacienda the first time Blue Monday played.

15. In the sprawling ecosystem of dance music, what niche does Turbo fill?

I like to think we make dignified bangers. 

16. Dance music is obviously intended to make people… dance, but are there any dance songs that reliably make you cry?

I don’t think I’ve ever actually shed a tear to a dance song. There are a few Aphex tracks like “Polynomial/C” and “Every Day” that make me very emotional, but not actual tears. 

17. What’s the proudest moment of your career thus far?

I was proud of the first time I did a live show, in Berlin, in 2015. Singing in front of an audience, etc. Also, my first real shows in Berlin back in 2001.jamb

18. What’s the best business decision you’ve ever made?

Never having a boss.

19. Who’s been your greatest mentor, and what’s the best advice they gave you?

I don’t really have a mentor, and I would love to have one. It’s healthy. But my dad told me when I was about one, “Just find something you love to do, and do it.” And that was great advice.

20. One piece of advice you’d give to your younger self?

Get paid in Bitcoin for a few years, 2015-2016, and be generous with the people around you.

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