The Dove. The Man that Fun Never Forgot. The Radiant Prince of Love. OK, so maybe in reality Tiga has never been called any of the monikers he’s assigned in his genius tongue-in-cheek “interview” Ciao! Means Forever, but there are certainly a bazillion other tags he has very rightfully earned: DJ, producer, singer, remixer, boss of Turbo Recordings (home to Boys Noize, Chromeo, and more electronic righteousness), fashion icon. And the list goes on.
With Ciao!, the banger-stuffed follow-up to 2006’s Sexor, now under his belt, Tiga talks here about the album recording process, his image, the Madonna rumors, and his surprising friendships with some household names.
Although you live near Montreal, you don’t do many dates in the U.S. Is there any particular reason you don’t do more dates here?
No, not really. It’s just more that there’s a lot of demand in Europe, and one thing leads to another. You find yourself playing there a lot, and once you start in that direction it becomes like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Also, because I come from Montreal, Europe and Asia and South America were always a bit more exotic than coming to the States. I probably prioritized it at the beginning, but now I think it’s the reverse. [The U.S.] is closer to home and it’s easy for me, so I’d like to play here a bit more.
Your live dates are typically DJ gigs. Will you be doing a full live set at some point?
I am thinking about it. It seems like the right thing to do soon. The music’s been moving a bit more in that direction. I’ve been DJ’ing a long time, and I’m looking for a bit of a new challenge. It’s also quite a big step, at least for me — I’m quite comfortable DJ’ing [laughs]. But yeah, it’s something I’d like to do. I’d like to start working on it after the summer. All my friends have been pushing me to do it for many years — they’ve all offered their services, but they might have gotten fed up with me by now. But I definitely think if and when it happens, Dave and Steph [Dewaele, members of Soulwax/2ManyDJs and producers of Ciao!] would play some part, Gonzales would probably be involved. I’m lucky that I have friends who have come from that band background, because I don’t, so I’m gonna need my friends if it’s gonna work.
With Soulwax involved, would the live show possibly turn into something similar to Nite Versions?
I think it’d be more like the actual recordings, and I think there’d be more singing. Nite Versions is more like a stripped-down club version of their music — this would be more like as you hear it on the albums.
Tell me about the making of Ciao!. Was it a long recording process?
It was done over about a year, but I wasn’t like hard at work all year; I took breaks. I think it was an average amount of labor required. If I compressed everything it was maybe three months of work or so — a lot of travel, a lot of little interruptions, but it came pretty naturally.
Were the Dewaeles involved in the whole record?
They didn’t write all the songs with me, but they definitely played an overall producer role. They listened to everything, they mixed almost every track, they produced about six of the 11. They were involved in the overall feel of it: helping me decide which tracks made it and which didn’t, giving me their feedback on everything from titles to graphics, just being involved. They played a pretty big role.
Do you find it easier or harder to work with close friends?
I think it’s easier. I don’t know what it’s like to work with somebody who’s not a friend, so I don’t know.… Maybe we waste a little more time than normal because we spend a lot of time joking around and stuff.
There have been a lot of rumors floating around online about Madonna providing vocals for “Shoes.” Is there any truth to that?
It’s not Madonna. [It started] somewhere in England. I really don’t know — the rumor had been going on for a while, and I wasn’t exactly going to come in and just squash it. There are worse rumors in the world. It’s actually me. That’s how I know it’s not Madonna, because I know it’s me.
The image of you on the cover of Ciao!, as well as your image in many other promotional photos, videos, and more, could perhaps be described as “hyper-metrosexual.” Yet seeing you here today or at your DJ gigs, you look quite different: baseball hat, T-shirt. Is there a particular visual aesthetic you try to create with your public image?
When I DJ, it’s definitely a different look and feel — I try to keep the DJ’ing and recording personalities a little bit separate. I never really saw it as “hyper-metrosexual,” but I know what you mean. It’s like me on a good day — that’s how I see it. I think there should be a little bit of mystery and guessing in any artist’s persona. I never really think about it too much. I have fun with it, and you want to look good on a record cover, because you’re going to have to stare at it the rest of your life.
Anyone who’s listened to your podcasts, heard your commentary in Soulwax’s Part of the Weekend Never Dies DVD, or seen the Ciao! Means Forever video online knows well your very self-deprecating and finely tuned sense of humor. You seem quite outgoing, yet your private life remains a mystery to fans. Message-board postings and the like have implied you’re open yet mysterious. Is that a conscious thing?
Fans said that? Really? [laughs] I think in this day and age, there’s so much communication going on that people maybe expect a lot of artists. I think I’m quite honest in the interviews I do or the podcasts I do or the records I make or the liner notes I write. I feel like I give quite a lot in all of that. At least in my mind, I feel like I’ve given away almost everything. I don’t know how many secrets I have left. But it’s a bit conscious when it comes to the Twittering and MySpace and answering fan mail. Your personality and how much you give, it’s a scarce commodity, and if you just let the tap run I don’t know what you have left. I certainly have nothing against fans wanting more or expecting more or whatever, but I’m comfortable with the level where it is right now.
What’s happening in music right now that excites you?
I really like Proxy [who also just remixed Tiga’s “What You Need”]. Obviously I like all the Turbo stuff that’s coming out. What am I listening to myself right now? I like that Renaissance Man, I think it’s two guys, they’re good. I like techno, Luciano and Loco Dice and stuff like that as well — still very eclectic, my tastes, a little bit of everything. I would like something to come along that really blew me away right now, but it hasn’t happened in a few months. There’s actually a guy that works for Turbo now whose name is Mike Mind. He’s a very, very good producer; he’s got two 12-inches coming out that are excellent, very techno. I know I’m forgetting something.
Are you really involved with the Turbo stuff?
[laughs] Does it seem like I’m not? Day to day, not as much anymore. I do a lot of the A&R decisions, like signing the records and deciding which tracks make it and which don’t, doing artwork and stuff like that. The past six months in this album cycle my schedule’s been pretty hectic, so I’ve been a little bit less involved than normal, but I’m looking forward to jumping back into it, because I miss it. It’s fun.
You’re well-known for your cover versions — “Hot in Herre,” “Sunglasses at Night,” and “ Burning Down the House” are just a few. Yet Ciao! is surprisingly free of covers. Are there any in the works?
I’m finished with cover versions for now. It’s a nice way to learn how to make songs. It was fun while it lasted. I’ll probably do another one one day.
And finally, what would people be most shocked to know about you that they don’t already know?
I’m just trying to think of which one I can talk about. Something shocking. I don’t know, I killed someone once [laughs]. I always want to say I pushed someone off a bridge, but that’s not true. Nothing horrible. I grew up in India. I grew up watching Europeans doing acid at beach parties. Is that shocking? Surprising’s easier than shocking. I used to breed snakes. I stopped — no need, it was purely business. I’ve had like a million businesses, nightclubs, record stores, but that’s not surprising because it all makes sense. You know what? The honest answer is I don’t think there’s anything about me that’s surprising. Although I did meet Public Enemy when I was like 12. Is that shocking? Does that shock? I’m friends with Michael Douglas, Duran Duran. I loved them. I was in love with Nick Rhodes as a kid and now I’m friends with him. That’s like my crowning accomplishment. There is a project we’ve always talked about doing together but it’s top secret. He’s dope.