Published May 19, 2009Montreal's Tiga Sontag shines like a highly polished disco ball on latest album Ciao. This newest release shows the DJ and producer maturing, heading deeper into the world of pop music. This collection of all-original material comes from an artist who has become recognized for his reinterpretations of pop, making them night time anthems, yet Sontag's voice and writing have come to the forefront. Gone are the overtly retro references, despite a sound firmly rooted in that blurry division between acid house, electro disco and synth pop. Ciao sees Tiga exploring music with Soulwax and Gonzales, and past collaborators with a more techno-oriented sound like Jori Hulkonen and Jesper Dahlbäck. Songs like "Sex O'Clock" and the call-and-response of "Shoes" are playful and fun but have just the right amount of acidic bite to make them edgy thrillers, rather than overtly fluffy pop. "Beep Beep Beep" and "Luxury" are melancholy pop masterpieces with darkness, yet they are based on beautiful grooves that will make you want to move. "Turn the Night On" and "Gentle Giant" are the softer sentimental songs that add a unique dimension to an otherwise full-on dance album. Ciao is bound to become a classic, demonstrating an awesome Canadian artist becoming more nuanced and relevant than many may have thought possible.
Was it a conscious decision to become more of a pop musician?
It's a strange thing; I don't even really know how things got so poppy because it's not like I want to be on TV; it's not like I want to be a pop icon [laughs]. I don't lie in bed at night thinking of Robbie Williams or Justin Timberlake. I still care more about techno. I don't know. I think when it really started to evolve was when I started singing and writing. And I guess I started to feel like it was a way I could express myself and I started to get more comfortable with that and then I just got to be very good friends with people that pushed me a bit more in that direction. I started spending more time with Erol Alken, or Soulwax or James Murphy. You know, more time with people who were closer linked with the pop or the rock world and less time with my old techno buddies at techno clubs. The other thing is I think after spending so many years in that DJ and techno world it was exciting to try new stuff.
You're currently touring to support your new album. What does Tiga "live" look like?
Right now it's just DJing and in the summer I'm going to do the festival circuit in Europe and that'll be DJing, but I'm hoping that it will be kind of an enhanced DJ set, incorporating kind of Ableton Live and a few [other things], like a hybrid. And then, although I've been saying this for a few years, I would like to try setting up a band. That's the big fork in the road in my career because it's something I've never done; it's something that everyone kind of asks me about and the music now would justify it. And, uhh, I'm a little bit nervous about it. It's a big step but I think it's something that I have to do.
You've become know for your covers. But it's all-originals on the record. Are you specifically stepping away from doing covers?
Well, yeah; it wasn't like a master plan. The thing with covers for me is I don't think I was different than loads of other bands or artists. It was always bands like the Rolling Stones; I think it was always standard issues you would learn by playing other people's songs. You know, you're in the garage with your friends and, "Hey, let's practice by playing a Led Zeppelin song." In a lot of ways it's what I did; I just did the practice in public. And I wasn't trying to copy as much as just use the template. I think covers were a way for me to experiment with my voice. They were ways for me to gain the confidence to sing. They were like training wheels, basically. And now I wanted to try and write songs on my own and now that I think I can write songs on my own, even if they're not as good as ones that I would cover, I feel like I don't have to do covers anymore. I mean, I might come back to them. They're still fun. It's a lot of fun doing a cover but for now I wasn't really tempted.
In the past, there has been entrepreneurialism associated with what you did and it seems you've stepped away from a few of those things. Was the initial interest in these ventures to open up opportunities for you as an artist?
Yes, 100-percent! I mean, I never wanted to be a retail store owner; I just wanted to get good records and I wanted to get them first. I never wanted to be a nightclub owner but I did want a chance to get a good gig for myself and to book other DJs and to meet them and to be in that environment. The record label was a little different but even with the record label I just wanted a chance to get closer to the other artists. I think it's all been quite strategic but it was just pretty much just to get opportunities for myself. I think the main difference between me and other people was that I was never scared off by the business aspect; I was always quite comfortable with it. When I was younger I was actually in a lot of ways more comfortable with that side of it than the creative side. I was more insecure about the creative side than I am now. But that comfort level with the business side and the social side, it served me very well because in the end, that's a big part of having a life in music because in a lot of way it is a business. (Last Gang)