Black Tiger Sex Machine is a Canadian trio of electronic music producers formed in 2009 by Marc-Andre Chagnon, Julien Maranda and Patrick Barry. Starting off primarily creating hard electro and now leaning towards a sound that is chock full of techno, funk and disco albeit with a constant razor sharp edge. Most notably their music drips atmosphere, often with sound-scapes taking place of traditional melodies and verse sections. This makes it all the more abusive when the inevitable drop arrives, full of bleeding aggression and soul, a certain ying-yang relationship that they have uniquely forged between melt-your-face dancibility and primal evocation. To put it in a metaphorical sense, this is the music of a apocalyptic world, one that meshes that of classic films; The Warriors, Mad Max and A Clockwork Orange. This anarchistic spirit is embodied furthermore in their stage uniforms, consisting of studded leather jackets and abstracted tiger styled helmets with glowing white eye-work. Recently paving the way for the future of EDM live showmanship, they have incorporated live percussion and keys alongside their traditional DJ setup. Needless to say their live shows bolster their already frenetic musical style. Here are the rabid anthems of the worldwide cannibal dance cults.

Was there a specific moment in time when you realized that you were gaining success; a moment where you thought, ‘Wow, this is really going somewhere and people are listening’, or was rising to prominence a subtle experience for the group?

All three of us always believed that hard work combined with passion and consistency will end up bringing you somewhere. It’s something that was progressively validated as we kept putting more efforts in our music and label and that plays kept growing. However, I think our first show in Europe was a defining moment. Jean e La Plastique and the Busy Bitch Crew brought us to Rimini in Italy. The moment at the airport when we reached our planes and all sat down, waiting for the plane to board, was really special. At that point, we kinda all looked at each other and said, ‘Well…’ and then we all smiled.

I have aspirations of being a musician in the electronic sphere, I feel that my greatest challenge is learning to become technically proficient. I understand people can have musical talent, but no one has a talent for synthesis, knowing how to use a DAW, how to correctly process a sound or when and how to re-sample etc. How did you learn?
We’d say YouTube is the best way to start. There are hundreds if not thousands of tutorials out there that can really teach you the basics. After that, it’s all about hours of practice and practice. Once you’ve developed a style of your own and can produce professional sounding tracks, reaching out to other producers becomes very important to bounce ideas and maybe learn additional tricks that can help how your tracks will sound. Collaboration is also a perfect way to combine ideas, knowledge and techniques. Our collaborations with Dabin, Apashe and Kai Wachi have helped us a lot in the last 18 months.

I feel that a personal motivating factor, albeit a superficial one, is that I want to create music to leave a legacy. To be able to materialize something in this life that lastingly affects people. Would you say legacy is a motivating factor for you individually?

The idea is legacy is interesting. It wasn’t something that motivated us as we started; or something that even crossed our mind. It was something we wanted to do and felt like it was the right thing to do for us given our passion. However as we have been growing, people have been coming to us increasingly with amazing feedback, telling us that our parties and music have been important aspect of their youth. For example, a girl messaged us recently to know if we were playing a show on a specific date because 2-3 years ago, she met her boyfriend while we’re playing. These kind of moments makes you feel great about what you do.

I can only imagine the impact that certain top musicians have on people lives. So yes, it is a superficial motivation factors but it’s just amazing to see impact you can have, even as small artists, on people lives for something you love doing.

DJ 3Lau tweeted once: ‘Bottom line, most people see the partying, the booze, the booty. No one sees the grind, the self-pressure and the fear of failure.’ What’s your opinion on this statement?

I think there’s some truth in it regarding hard work and self-pressure. We work collectively around 500 hours a month on our music and label and we set high expectations for ourselves. That’s definitely hard to glimpse for an outsider. However, if what people see of us is the party, booze and booties, then that’s not really what we want. We got into electronic music for the passion of the music and how it could move us. Ideally, we want to these emotions to transpire in our music and shows.

The EDM-sphere is a constantly shifting thing. How do you make the choice to make music in the what ever is big right now genre and that of staying true to the style you have already forged?

Yes, the EDM sphere is always shifting and it only seems to accelerate with all the new producers and the popularity it has reached. We would say though that our most important takeaway from EDM is on the production level. That’s definitely something that had a big influence on us as we grow as producers. On the hot sounds of EDM, they have somewhat influenced us since we listen to electronic music all day everyday. However, our opinion on our production has always been that we should create good music that we are proud of.

This has become more and more true in the last 6 months as we have developed our live show. We want to produce tracks that will fit in the BTSM show, if the tracks fit in other DJ’s sets, then so be it.

When you sit down to produce, do you actively engage your mind and think about what you want to create, as an artist thinking out a scene to paint, or do you just let it flow and see if something arises out of the ashes?

It’s a little bit of both. Usually the central melody or idea will come from some form of improvisation. Once we have that, we arrange the song in a specific structure that we want the song to have. Then we add additional sounds and details, and finally work on the mix. That last part is usually what takes a long time, whereas the first step can take only a few minutes.

You have recently started incorporating live elements into your live shows, namely percussion and keys. Do you feel that incorporating live elements is a path that more electronic musicians should evolve into using, instead of the common DJ setup that most artists use in their live performances? What was BTSM’s personal motivation to start using these elements?

It’s really hard to tell how things are going to unfold. Playing live opens up a world of possibilities for electronic musicians, but there’s still a lot of fun to be had with the classic DJ setup. We think there are going to be major breakthroughs in the next few years, with acts using old or current technology in new ways, and new technology appearing that should completely change the game.

For us, the challenge of going live was to keep the same energy that is present in our DJ sets and to maintain the sound quality that pre-recorded tracks have. This really motivated us when we created the live set; the ability of displaying live instrumentations, improvisations and doing live versions combined with the sheer power of pre-recorded, well-mixed tracks and the versatility of a DJ.

How do you feel when you witness an artist gaining immense success while making music that is of perhaps a lesser quality than your productions, both technically and structurally, or because that artist has simply ridden the bandwagon of a popular genre? For instance a number of trap producers have gained huge popularity by simply adding drums and a tempo change to another artists work.

It doesn’t bother us. That’s part of the game and it’s more than okay if some people are moved by these tracks and are willing to pay for these artists. However, we would not like to be known for making pop remixes or for following the latest trend. It would be insulting to our fanbase, against what we’ve done so far and it wouldn’t be rewarding from an artistic perspective. We have a particular vision for our sound that we try to respect.

When producing, how do you ensure that all three of your individual creative inputs are realized? How do you make sure that each ones creative ideas live in harmony in a track?

It’s something that has been a little harder in the past but with time, it’s becoming a tightly integrated process. For some reasons, we’ve recently rarely had major conflicting ideas about one of our productions. We all have our strength and weaknesses, we work hard and we tell each other what we think. It’s all about doing something we’re proud of and that has the BTSM stamp on it.

This is a easy one – How did you come up with literally the best group name in history?

Which version do you want? There’s one for every type of movie rating.

Lastly, if one had to strip away all your ego and you were left with just your own self, or soul (for lack of a better analogy), what would you describe makes up the essence of who you are individually?

We all have our own individual tastes, goals and personalities, but I think a common thread that defines our core selves is that we care about the work we do. Our passion drives us to make music that we hope will have an impact on someone somewhere, and to put on shows that are memorable for the audience. This keeps us united even when we clash over everything from song ideas to business decisions.
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