“Without being too dramatic, I really think a phone-less world was a better world,” Tiga reflects, a thought that is so incomprehensible to me, yet it also underlines his philosophy as an artist. In an era where digital connectivity is omnipresent, he cherishes the authenticity and raw energy of real-life experiences. This longing for a more disconnected, genuine way of living not only influences his personal life but also permeates his approach to music, favoring the tangible over the virtual, the experiential over the digital.
In a career spanning over two decades, Tiga, born as Tiga James Sontag, has established himself as a formidable figure in the world of electronic dance music. Known for his innovative approach and eclectic remixes, he has remixed songs from a wide range of artists like The xx, LCD Soundsystem, The Kills, and Depeche Mode. His solo releases, such as “Sunglasses at Night” and “You Gonna Want Me“, showcase his knack for creating tracks that resonate on dance floors worldwide.
Marking a significant milestone, Tiga’s Turbo Recordings is set to commemorate its 25th anniversary and will be highlighted by the release of their ‘T25‘ VA this November. A compilation that showcases a spectrum of artists, from the legendary Soulwax and Jori Hulkkonen to the innovative Cora Novoa, which embodies the label’s rich history and forward-thinking vision. “I look for exciting artists and try to only work with people that I actually like.” he explains.
The release ‘Cora Novoa – Burning‘, premiering today on C-Heads, embodies the atmospheric and immersive sound that has become synonymous with the label – perfect for aficionados of deep electronic music seeking to slowly drift into a musical journey.
In our insightful interview, we explore the milestones of Turbo’s 25-year legacy, Tiga’s creative insights, and the enduring influence of his earlier works.
photography: courtesy of Tiga
With Turbo celebrating its 25th anniversary, what are some of the most outstanding moments that have defined the label’s ethos over the years?
Very early on, probably in 1999, we designed a poster to celebrate our first 8 releases. It was quite expensive to produce, it was a big full-color image. At the last moment, we realized (myself and my designer) we also loved the poster in black, with no large image…. But instead the image tiny. Despite ludicrous costs and no obvious marketing value, I decided to produce both posters. That is a pretty good definition of our ethos – obsession with design, and disregard for common sense, with a vague hope that everything will work out in the end.
Obviously, big tracks over the years like Proxy “Raven” or Gesaffelstein have been the most rewarding moments.
The ‘T25’ compilation is a notable milestone. How did you curate the tracks, and what was your vision for the final selection?
The tracks were compiled by reaching out to all our past artists, and current friends and just picking our favorites. There was no real stylistic direction – more about the artists themselves. At this point, I think they all know that the “turbo sound” leans toward the more “party” end of the spectrum.
“For anything to really last, to make it through the ups and downs, you need to be able to laugh – and often laugh at yourself.”
How are you planning to celebrate this big anniversary personally? (smiles)
I have no plans. On to the next.
‘Cora Novoa – Burning’ is one of the singles premiering on C-Heads today. I love the deep atmosphere and how the track builds up. Can you share the story behind this track?
I love Cora. She is an exceptionally cool and talented artist – and we are very proud to have her involved in the label. I don’t know the story behind the track/ I don’t ask – I simply decide if I like it or not. You would have to ask Cora. What I do know is she is cool. Real cool.
Reflecting on Turbo’s journey, how have you maintained the creative edge and innovation within the label amidst the rapidly evolving music industry?
I just stick to what I like. I hope that provides the common thread. I try to make everything look good. I try not to repeat myself too often. I look for exciting artists and try to only work with people that I actually like.
“Without being too dramatic, I really think a phone-less world was a better world.”
Your letter to fans was quite a manifesto! What role do you believe humor and personality play in the longevity of a label like Turbo?
I don’t know what role they play in the longevity of a record label – but I do know that humor and personality are vital for life in general. Humor especially. For anything to really last, to make it through the ups and downs, you need to be able to laugh – and often laugh at yourself. I find the absence of a sense of humor to be the ultimate sin – and something unforgivably boring. People who take things too seriously clearly have no real confidence. All the greats are funny – Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, etc. Humor is vital.
While working on the questions for the interview, I listened to “TIGA – Sunglasses at Night” again. It’s incredible how long ago that was. How does it feel for you to listen to your old, unbelievably thriving remixes?
I’m quite happy when I listen to old tracks. I love the feeling that they actually HAPPENED – they were made, released, and loved this whole life. I don’t really identify with it much, I just feel happy it all happened – because it all seems so fragile and random sometimes – like it all could have so easily NOT happened. I very much appreciate all the work and creative decisions and partnerships that went into creating all that music.
“I’m quite happy when I listen to old tracks. I love the feeling that they actually HAPPENED.”
Is there anything you’d like to bring back or preserve from the ‘good old days,’ as they say?
Without being too dramatic, I really think a phone-less world was a better world. I don’t think people are happier with the world at their fingertips and as far as enjoying music and parties – and being able to exist in your own little world – I find disconnection highly underrated.
Looking back at your beginnings in Goa, India, do you still find something there, or does it feel like another lifetime?
Yesterday feels like another lifetime. It all feels like another lifetime, but I guess it was actually me. My childhood in Goa was amazing, and exciting, and I often dream of it – and imagine maybe going back when I’m an old man.
What inspires you to keep creating after such a successful and long career?
Man’s gotta keep busy.
And what advice would you give to your younger self at the start?
He knew what he was doing. I would just let him get on with it.