The Guy In Shades

TIGA is our nigger. That's why we've never done anything on him before. You feel like you're being lazy if you do something on your nigger. As George Bush put it, "I didn't mention Canada because I thought it was understood. They are our brothers."

01 December 2002, 12:00am

TIGA is our nigger. That’s why we’ve never done anything on him before. You feel like you’re being lazy if you do something on your nigger. As George Bush put it, “I didn’t mention Canada because I thought it was understood. They are our brothers.”

Then we’re in London and people’s cell phones are going “dee nee deee neneee” from TIGA’s new hit single “Sunglasses at Night” and we turn on the TV and he’s on Top of the Pops with Britney Spears and then we find out he gets chased down the streets in Germany by screaming fans and then it hits us: TIGA is fucking huge.

The history of TIGA’s progression into superstardom is the progression of dance music in general. He was born on the beaches of GOA and learned to walk while hippies like his mother danced all around him to the DJ sounds of Doctor Bobby (TIGA’s dad). When rave began TIGA was sitting in the front row. He had the mad- hatter toque with a miner’s light on the front and the skeleton gloves and the gigantic pants with the fur eyeballs on the knees. By the time he was 18, he was DJing with so much PLUR the crowds were in the thousands. TIGA wasn’t just a flamboyant rave god. He was a rave fascist. When Voice of Montreal (the precursor to VICE) dared to say “anarchist teens and pill-popping rave queens” in a radio ad, TIGA threw thousands in the garbage as payback for the blasphemy.

Then, around 1996, rave died. Techno became incredibly serious and house was only played by stupid people and fags. TIGA stuck to techno but admits the scene was so uptight and unfun you couldn’t tell the DJs from the music journalists. “It kind of bummed me out when the flash disappeared,” says TIGA from his lavish apartment in Montreal. “Everyone was so serious and modest about everything. It was all about rules and being perfectly authentic.”

He alleviated his boredom during those years by trying to do everything at once. “I started my record label then, Turbo Records. I opened the local dance club, Sona. I started producing records and trying to get involved in everything. I even got involved with VICE and took pictures for the DOs & DON’Ts for a while. Quebec is the perfect place for DON’Ts.”
Somewhere down the line the music that was supposed to reinvent music was repeating itself. The innovation stopped and nobody was having fun anymore. Gone were the days of DJs showing up with sunglasses on at night, surrounded by a huge entourage of bodyguards. The stories of ecstasy orgies in Greece and three-day meth benders were replaced with three-hour interviews discussing the problems with terms like “intelligent dance music” and then going home after the gig. Techno DJs became insufferably pedantic shitstains and TIGA was depressed. He was doing 2,000 things at once to stay interested, from investing heavily in muscle cars to experimenting with the worst hairdos he could possibly come up with.

Then, in a matter of months, the black clouds disappeared and electro came back. Electroclash was the answer to everyone’s problems. It required a stage and girls were allowed. It was flamboyant and ostentatious and arrogant and fun. The dance revolution was back and TIGA was there to greet it. “I was ecstatic when electro showed up. I always loved music and wanted to take techno to new places but the scene was too stagnant to allow it. Then, one day, people were willing to tolerate us mixing in all this other music we grew up listening to. We could dress like idiots and have fun again. It was like the revolution was back and we could party as we did when we were 19-year-old ravers.”

When that happened TIGA dropped everything else. He sold his shares in the club, gave the store to a friend, and quit all his regular DJ gigs. The first thing he did with his newfound enthusiasm was put out a mixed CD called Mixed Emotions. Electroclash originator DJ Hell loved it and helped him link up with everyone else in the revolution. TIGA began touring and became part of Hell’s family, which includes bands like Fischerspooner, Miss Kitten, Crossover, and DMX Crew. He did a mix of Hell’s Gigolo Records roster that brought together all the bands we’re talking about and it took off. The electro rockers realized TIGA was one of the few that had been there since birth (his own birth) and they knew he was going to bring some much-needed musical credibility to the scene. Then things got really big. Last year, just for shits and giggles, TIGA remixed the classic Montreal pop hit “Sunglasses at Night.” Now that everyone was free to play with any old samples they wanted, TIGA and his friends were combing over their junior-high years with a fine-tooth comb. He sent it to Hell with a note saying, “Prepare to laugh your ass off” but the single exploded like a bottle rocket. To date it’s sold 150,000 copies. It debuted in the German pop charts at 25 and led to the Top of the Pops appearance. Sigue Sigue Sputnik are begging him to do a remix of one of their new songs. The video has stayed in the MTV dance charts for 6 weeks and the German music press unanimously voted it record of the year.

“I’m like the David Hasselhoff of dance music over there – it’s odd,” he says, “I’m even getting to know the customs guys at the Frankfurt airport.” I asked TIGA what he thinks of the hype. About the arguments over what it should be called and who was the founder, and he seems worried. “It’s perfect for magazines because it’s sexy and the people involved are colorful, but that kind of attention kind of scares me. You’re just waiting for the press, especially the British press, to tear it to shreds in a matter of weeks. I just hope that, while everyone argues about who’s more credible and poses for magazine articles, they remember how we got here in the first place. We ended up here because we were sick of being so serious all the time. We’re here to have fun. We’re coming out so you better get this party started (to cold act ill or get retarded).”

Check for Tiga & Zyntherius’ “Sunglasses at Night” single, the American Gigolo compilation, and FPU Crocket’s theme (remixes), all on Turbo Records.