Tiga's Planet Turbo Tour
David Pollock talks to Turbo Records founder Tiga as the label takes over Pressure this month
It must be a good position, to be so on top of your own game that one of the only things left to achieve is helping others to success. That isn’t quite what Tiga’s doing here, but his own label Turbo Recordings is no vanity project, and he’s as hands on with it as he is his multiple DJing commitments around the world. So what better way to introduce people to the acts you’ve signed over the years than to headline a massive touring show and bring them along?
‘I’ve been touring for so long on my own this past year,’ says Tiga, born Tiga James Sontag in Montreal, Canada 34 years ago, ‘that doing a label showcase tour seemed like the best way to keep things interesting for me.’ For Tiga, that last year has involved promoting his second album Ciao! across the planet, particularly since its lead single ‘Mind Dimension’ has grown to be a bona fide dancefloor-defining track. Still, he should be used to it: ‘Sunglasses at Night’, ‘Burning Down’ and ‘You Gonna Want Me’ have all been there already in the last decade.
‘I think we’ve been a consistent label,’ says Tiga of Turbo, which is in its twelfth year. ‘If anything, I think that’s why we’re still around. We don’t twist and turn with trends. Our artwork, our identity, the artists we sign – there’s a common thread, a consistency to what we do.’ It’s not a bad run, for something that was originally conceived as just a way of getting out of running a nightclub, a job he hated. ‘The label was intended purely as a segue from the nightlife world to the life of a producer.’
Initially concentrating on DJ mixes, Turbo was ‘clawing its way to legitimacy’ for the first few years – after all, running a small dance label based in Canada is hardly a way to go about getting noticed. It first came to wider attention around 2002, just as Tiga was gaining attention for his own music. Since them, he and Turbo have scored some respectable hits. ‘I was proud that we discovered Chromeo,’ he says. ‘That was a proper, old-fashioned A&R mission. It was more than just signing a finished product, it was seeing long term potential and being involved in the creation of an actual band. It happened the right way, and it’s been great to see them go on to big success.
‘Proxy’s another one. He was really plucked from the middle of nowhere in Russia. He’s a real genius in my opinion, the best of the post-rave genre, he reminds me of early Prodigy. Any time you can have the best on your label, that’s the ambition. And for me, he is.’ Sadly neither of this pair will be appearing here, but Boys Noize, Thomas Von Party and Zombie Nation (who Tiga records with as ZZT) will be representing Turbo alongside Pressure’s guests Riton, Slam, Sei A and more.
‘We’ve never had a record that’s really blown up to the extent that it’s transformed our situation,’ says Tiga, who is looking at starting work on his third album in the autumn, ‘but it’s worth it for the points where we create a cover we’re really happy with or a poster campaign which works out just right. This label has been a series of small victories, more than anything else.’
Tiga’s Planet Turbo Tour is at Pressure at the Arches, Glasgow, Fri 30 Apr.