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Leonard Cohen Taught Me the Value of Patience: Tiga Remembers the Iconic Canadian Artist

The DJ/producer on his personal and musical relationship with the late Montreal singer-songwriter and fellow Virgo.
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This post ran originally on THUMP Canada. Last week, it was announced that iconic Canadian singer and songwriter Leonard Cohen had passed away at the age of 82, only a few weeks after the release of his 14th album, 'You Want It Darker.' As tributes and stories poured in from across the country and around the world, many artists in the electronic community also shared their memories of his diverse career, including Montreal DJ and producer Tiga.


While on paper, the Turbo Records founder's physically-charged rave music shares little in common with the highly-decorated, gruff-voiced poet who wrote "Suzanne," "Bird on the Wire," "I'm Your Man," and countless other timeless songs, the club veteran tells THUMP that the latter's wry humour and patience made him "number one for me." We recently spoke to Tiga about his first time meeting the musician, their shared heritage, and why he thinks Cohen's legacy will endure for generations.

"I had heard the name always without hearing the music. We're from almost the identical part of the city, and we share very, very similar Jewish upbringings. My father was actually friends with him, and he came to our house once and I remember they jammed—my dad's not a musician by the way. This must have been the early 80s, and they made a track on some old keyboards. But I was very, very young—that's my first memory [of him]. As for the music itself, I don't really think it's kids music, or I certainly wasn't sophisticated enough for it. I didn't get into the music until way later, probably ten to 15 years ago on my own.

His first three albums were the ones on heavy rotation for me, I wasn't into the 80s stuff like [1984's] Various Positions or even 'Hallelujah.' As soon as I heard the music when I was a little bit older and I was, let's say struggling with the things that we all struggle with, then the connection was mind-blowing. From that moment, it's like discovering an incredible friend or an incredible teacher or an incredible book, you can't believe how good it makes you feel and how beneficial it is. Around that time, there was a [2006] movie called I'm Your Man, I remember seeing that on an airplane and just crying, I was so supremely moved by the performances. It wasn't just the songs, everything about him just started being a guiding light.

Most of my heroes, or people that I really love, you do end up finding there's a lot of humour [in their work]. It's not always overt, it's not like Louis C.K. or Jerry Seinfeld, who are also heroes. Leonard was outrageously funny whether he chose to flex it or not, and anybody who looks at life and sees the humour in it really connects with me, because that's how I am. Sometimes finding what's funny about something is getting close to what's true about something. It's cool how patient he was, there's so many things about him that runs contrary to how things are right now, and his life and output is a reminder to take things slow. That's a nice guiding force for anybody to think that maybe 'hey when I'm 80, I'll really be hitting my stride.'

This year—and this is something I'll always cherish—he wished me a happy birthday. We have some mutual friends, or my father might have told him, but I got an email on my birthday. Like a little kid, I checked my email and I see 'From Leonard Cohen, happy birthday Tiga, fellow Virgo.' I was so happy and then three days later it was his birthday, so I wrote him back and I knew he was sick, everybody knew he was sick. I always wish that I had got a chance to really talk to him. There are words that get thrown around a lot in our line of work like 'genius' or 'inspiration.' I'm not a religious person, but to me he's the closest I felt to like a real teacher or prophet, somebody who you want to learn from and follow."

As told to Max Mertens.