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Tiga bomb

Montreal’s superstar electro DJ hits Halifax this week. Johnston Farrow talks to him about “the feeling you live for”—creation.

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Sometimes it really is tough being the world’s top electro DJ. A native of Montreal, Tiga Sontag—simply known as Tiga—plays to packed audiences around the globe, and is considered by many to be one of the most influential electronic artists this country has produced. Attaining that status often leads to interesting and surreal experiences, such as being invited to attend the Louis Vuitton fashion show in Paris just for the sake of being there.

“I didn’t have to DJ, I didn’t have to do anything—I got my plane ticket and hotel taken care of,” Tiga says from his home in Montreal. “That was definitely surreal because I wasn’t on tour or anything. So there I was, sitting with the president of the biggest luxury goods manufacturer in Paris. I was literally standing in my driveway, then nine hours later I was standing there in Paris at this fashion show.”

Although he’s finally coming into his own with mainstream audiences since the 2006 release of his debut original disc, Sexor, Tiga has been at the cutting edge of music since he started his DJ career 15 years ago. Born to a father who played turntable sets in the early dance music days in pre-Ibiza hotspot Goa, India, Tiga brought to Montreal the same unifying parties he experienced on vacation in Asia. He threw the city’s first rave in 1993 and his later Neon Parties are legendary. He’ll bring some of that excitement to Halifax on Friday when he plays a set as part of his Sexor Tour at Reflections.

Tiga first gained international acclaim in 2001 with his revamped, electro version of Corey Hart’s classic “Sunglasses at Night” and then with a remixed “Hot In Here” in 2003. Since then, he’s done remixes for numerous pop bands for the club set, including Scissor Sisters, Depeche Mode, The Killers and the Pet Shop Boys.

“I think remixing is still important,” Tiga says. “I remember when I remixed the LCD Soundsystem song ‘Tribulations.’ For a solid year I was playing it live in my set. If I play 80 shows a year to an average of 2,000 people a show and with the internet streaming and mix CDs, you’re reaching hundreds of thousands of people with the remix, where the original might not reach that many people.”

Upon entering the DJ profession, Tiga says he set three goals for himself. The first: to get work. The second: produce records that would allow him to travel the world. The third: write and record an album. With the first two goals accomplished, he set out to produce the electro-pop Sexor, incorporating his love of electronic beats with the sound of the ’80s pop icons he grew up watching.

“I always wanted to join the ranks, even if it was just in a minor role, of my heroes,” Tiga says. “I love minimal music, I love avant-garde music. A lot of that stuff I appreciate and enjoy, but it’s not my number one. I’ve always liked a little bit more overt personality.”

What also sets Tiga apart from other DJ-producers is his penchant for playing the part of a pop star, an image he’s cultivated through years of photo shoots and interviews. It’s partly why major fashion companies invite him to hang at their parties and why his music is played in the most recognized dance venues in the world.

“In entertainment there’s a certain theatricality and smoke and mirrors with everybody,” he says, “some people more than others. The music, the lyrics, the performance, the general image is more or less me. It’s not so radically different. If you spent the day with me, that’s more or less what I look like, but definitely there’s a shine put on everything and there’s a certain control.”

Image isn’t everything, of course. There’s the innovation, the accolades and ultimately, the ability to fill the dance floor that makes Tiga a household name in electronic circles and maintains his status as an in-demand performer from Halifax to Paris and all points in between.

“For me, the number one feeling I live for is creation,” Tiga says. “It could be writing a good journal entry alone in your house or it could be making a number one song. The feeling is not based on the success of what you’re working on, the feeling is just your own personal standards. And that’s the feeling you live for.”

Tiga w/ Sean Keating and Jay Hamilton, February 23 at Reflections, 5184 Sackville, $20 adv/$30 door.

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