Tiga lifts the lid on Project ZZT

Marcus Barnes

IMG 0005 300x240 Tiga lifts the lid on Project ZZTCanadian producer Tiga is world-renowned for his excellent electro releases and his ever popular Turbo Recordings label – as well as regular appearances behind the decks at clubs around the globe. Four years ago he hooked up with Zombie Nation and started the ZZT project, several releases over the years garnered interest from fans and the media alike – however, they remained silent on the whole thing, preferring to let the music do the talking. Fortunately for me, Tiga decided to break his four-year silence to speak about ZZT and their new album Party’s Over Earth…

Had you always planned to release an album?

No. Originally there was absolutely no plan. It was a project that started as a reaction to all the other projects which do have plans. Zero expectation, zero pressure. We had no desire or interest to make an album, it was only really when we had like five or six tracks and then it just seemed to make sense.

The name Partys Over Earth seems to suggest your album has a theme…

A lot of the music’s mental, high energy. I think partly what happened in the past three or four years is a lot of music became higher and higher octane and, in a lot of ways, that meant less and less room to maneuver. Big festival stuff, big party music – to use a Spinal Tap analogy it went to ‘eleven’. It’s a little bit of a reaction to that, pointing fun at how ridiculous it all got. The idea of Party’s Over Earth is kinda ‘What next?’… you get to a certain place and what next? There is an apocalyptic idea, like how big can a breakdown get, what happens when the party’s over? I remember reading something on Aphex Twin how, with that Digeridoo record, he just made it to kill off parties, there’s a point in the night when a party needs to be killed off. And he made that track deliberately for that purpose, it’s so mental and so ridiculous.

Why have remained completely silent on the whole project?

You go through phases, there was a period in my life when I would have loved the idea of someone being interested enough in me to talk to me about my music and that lasted for a long time and that was a good feeling. And then you recognise that you have to because you know that it’s a back and forth relationship, and your music reaches more people. Then there’s a third phase where you really don’t care. That’s not the same thing as a ‘F*** you’, it’s not a punk rock thing – with ZZT it’s been such a relief to not be supporting it. It’s a relief to make music that just exists on its own, it doesn’t require contact, press or an explanation – it doesn’t require faces.

I guess it’s like a form of escapism?…

Yeah, escaping musically. It doesn’t matter who you are, even if you try to stay open-minded about it, you sometimes pigeon-hole yourself, everyone does it. You find comfort areas and you find yourself in the studio and you’ll find yourself thinking ‘Ok, I know this works’.

It must be nice to be shrug off the ego and make music without having that pressure of putting your face to it…

When electro clash started, when my international career started, it was the exact reverse [to ZZT]. It was a reaction to all the faceless techno and faceless music, it was super exciting and ambitious, this idea of projecting identity and adding more personality to it. I was arguing the exact reverse of what I’m doing now, but it’s about variation you know? For me ZZT is very much a techno project, it reminds me of a lot of my heroes from the 90s, where it was just… you just buy the record and there’s no back-story.

Do you see a future beyond the album and pushing the ZZT sound further?

We’ll get back in the studio again at some point for sure, then it’s purely a case of ‘we’ll see what happens’. If we make something we think is good, we’ll put it out – if we don’t, we’ll never do another record. That’s the beauty of a side project, it goes as far as you want it to. I’m very proud of it, it’s really really good. It’s not for everybody, on the surface it can be quite stupid, quite childish in a way. But there are a lot of ideas in there and a lot of interesting techniques. There’s not one filler on it, there’s a lot happening, a lot of good hooks. Because we were never under a pressure to keep up a momentum and match our previous releases we only put stuff out that we thought was good enough.

And has that fed back into your own solo stuff?

No yet no. Although there is one thing – what’s nice is getting that very high energy, slightly manic side out of your system which is nice for me because it leaves me feeling a little more relaxed about what I’m doing. Kinda like a 12-year-old that went a little crazy, had a tantrum and got it all out.

What about the production process in the studio?

How we worked was in a very nice way, it was pretty much all analogue equipment, it was very hands-on. It was a definite move away from the computers and laptops – we were always in the same room, it was very close to being in a band. Four hands on different machines, that was nice because it teaches you new things. It was a good learning experience. Everyone now essentially does everything on the same box, your work, your writing, your photos, 18 hours a day on your laptop no matter what you do. It’s definitely effective, it’s definitely efficient but the enjoyment factor starts to wane, it’s monotonous. I don’t think you realise how much of the tactile element you’re missing until you start touching all these machines. We did it all in Zombie’s studio in Munich, he has a lot of different equipment – we used a Roland System 100, which is a modular synth, a couple of Korgs, we used some analogue sequencers that had been custom-built. Working in an analogue way, you find yourself in all kinds of weird territory by accident and the ZZT sound is very much about that strange accident, which in my experience, is less likely to happen on computer. The thing with computers is you can make something very good, very fast and with the machines there’s a lot more tinkering.

Finally, if the world does come to an end in the year 2012 and you’re DJing, what would be your closing track?

Maybe The Cure – Just Like Heaven… or The Smiths – There’s A Light That Never Goes Out… a kind of soundtrack to the end of everyone’s life. It would not be one of my own records!

Party’s Over Earth is released on November 7 – visit Tiga’s Turbo Records website for more information

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