TIGA performing as part of Fukhouse, with DANIEL BELL , ERIC DOWNER , ZUZANA GRIMM , GERALD and IAN GUTHRIE at System Soundbar (117 Peter), Saturday (August 23). $20 before midnight, more after. www.fukhouse.ca Rating: NNNNN
It's tempting to dismiss Montreal-based producer/DJ Tiga as all flash and no substance. His best-known productions have been his cheeky glam techno covers of Corey Hart's Sunglasses At Night and, more recently, Nelly's Getting Hot In Here, and he enjoys playing with his image for publicity shots much more than the typical DJ. He's great at instant gratification, and he might be a little too fluent in fashion and trends for a serious artist. Besides, we're supposed to hate electro revivalists now, aren't we?
The thing is, he's actually quite a good DJ, and has been for more than 10 years now. His dad was a hippy DJ in Goa, and Tiga helped throw some of Montreal's first raves. He was also a partner in long-running after-hours club Sona (he sold his share a little less than three years ago) and started the record label Turbo.
His take on the whole 80s revival is rooted in what makes the dance floor move, but it's also smart and funny enough to be worth talking about. Though there may be an underlying cheekiness to much of what he does, he's not trying to use irony as a shield from criticism.
"Humour is very important to me - it's just who I am - but irony and humour are different things," he explains from his Montreal studio. "Irony is hedging your bets. It's a safeguard. If someone thinks what you're doing is stupid, you can just say you're being ironic. Me, I stand behind what I do."
Speaking self-assuredly, he presents himself as someone who genuinely loves music even if some of what he does comes across as too fashionable and current not to be contrived. Is he laughing at Corey Hart and Nelly as he capitalizes on their riffs and, in Hart's case, on nostalgia?
"An idea that works as a pop song works forever. It's like sugar - it just works. When you're doing a cover of one of these songs, it's more a matter of making it sound interesting than making it sound good, because it already does."
He describes what he'll be playing this week at Fukhouse as "main room rock electro punk" but confesses he didn't actually listen to very much punk in his youth
"I was always less into the sound of punk rock and more into the attitude and the whole DIY approach. More recently, I've been trying to teach myself about the history and getting into the Stooges and other early stuff."
Tiga's combination of a love of pop glamour, with his roots deep in DJ culture, and thinking about punk spirit and aggression makes for an artist so contemporary and with the times that people just naturally start describing him as a superstar.
Fortunately, that hasn't become an official extension of his name yet.
That would be so 90s.