Tiger Stripes is a Swedish talent who has risen to become a prominent artist in the worlds of both house and techno, and we caught up with him to chat about his label Strange Idols.
Hi Mikael it’s nice to meet you. I’d like to start by asking what inspired your artist alias of Tiger Stripes, is there a story behind the name?
In early 2000 I was making Detroit influenced house and techno under the name D’Malicious. But in 2005, I had made an EP that was leaning more towards soulful house and desperately needed an alias for this project. So last minute before deadline, I looked through the vinyl I had laying on the studio floor and picked up a 12-inch produced by legendary Disco DJ Nicky Siano together with the maestro of Leftfield Disco, Arthur Russell (here calling himself Killer Whale). They made this really cool track called Tiger Stripes under the name FELIX. Then when the alias D’Malicious got locked legally I decided to release all my music under the same name, so that is how I got to be a Swedish tiger.
Under your Tiger Stripes alias I can see you have featured music on a wide spectrum of labels ranging from house labels like Local Talk and Hot Creations right through to the techno powerhouse that is Drumcode. What inspired you to be so creative and open-minded in the way you approach making music?
Starting out as a producer I was very influenced by DJ’s like François Kevorkian and Joe Claussell. They mixed Detroit techno with spaced out dub reggae followed by a classic like Public Enemy’s “Don’t Believe the Hype”, then moving into some percussive spiritual house stuff. Very, very eclectic DJ sets. I got to know FK a little and visited his studio and released records on his Wave Music Imprint and brought him to Stockholm to play. Carl Craig also inspired me from very beginning, with his musically varied productions. So being influenced by these US guys, together with the fact that I like moving on, always looking for new ways to stay excited when producing my music, made it feel very natural to move between different genres of music that I like and trying to connect the dots between them.
You also run your own label Strange Idols, what inspired the decision to set up your own imprint?
Running my own label is something I always wanted to do but it wasn’t until I felt confident in having my own sound and sure of my skills as a producer that it felt right to start it up. I now feel I can offer something to the artists that not all labels can. I work closely together with the artists to improve the sounds and arrangements of the release when needed, mixing and mastering and doing edits and remixes until the EP feels 100% right for both of us. Then when the music is done I create the artwork and then finally it’s ready to be released. We are now heading for the 10th release and I feel super proud and happy with all of them.
As a producer you have an eclectic style, does Strange Idols have a more refined sound, and how would you describe the genre released via the imprint?
I like a bit of techno in my house music and I like a bit of house music in my techno so I guess that goes for the sound of Strange Idols as well. I’m looking for a raw sound and I think a good vocal snippet can often lift the track to the next level.
When it comes to releasing music there is always a lot of varying opinions of vinyl… does your label press vinyl, and what influenced the final decision?
When an EP demands vinyl, like with Almost Automatic’s “Running EP” sounding very underground, it makes sense to me. To make vinyl of every release would we great of course, but I want to build things up a bit slowly. There is no rush becoming the biggest techno label of the world!
Having released your own music on such a wide variety of labels, was the way you run your label influenced by any of the ones that had signed your own music, and what makes those labels stand out?
I love the personal touch working with someone as nice as Vladimir Ivkovic from Desolat, and I love the working with Adam Beyer and the Drumcode crew, as they are super professional in every step of the way when releasing a record. Adam sometimes also gives me good feedback… often small but important details that have helped improved my tracks. That stuff is invaluable, and it’s what I try to do for my own Strange Idols as well.
Could you list some of the artists who have featured on your label, and highlight any talents who you have been really excited to sign music from?
I like having fun while working and people like Markus Enochson, Jesper Dahlbaäck (aka The Persuader) and Sylwia Kubicka (VONDA7) who I have known for many many years, so it’s quite easy having a good time together with my friends. Most importantly they make some really cool tunes, but yeah… I’m super proud of all my Strange Idols releases.
So what’s coming up over the next few months on Strange Idols, do you have any of your own music lined up for an EP?
Next release, SIR009 is a big one from VONDA7 called “Stay Organic EP”. It comes with a remix from myself and has already been heavily support with plays from Adam Beyer who rocked it at the Awakenings Festival! Anja Schneider, Pan-Pot, Laurent Garnier etc. have all also showed their support. I love the energy of this EP and I think “Stay Organic” is one of the strongest tracks from VONDA7 so far. So I’m very happy to release this EP! For the 10th release me and Markus Enochson are working on a track together which feel super promising… Markus is such a great and talented guy.
Thanks again for taking the time to speak with us, outside of the label what else do you have in store for the coming months, are there any big Tiger Stripes new releases or gigs we should be looking out for?
My pleasure! Well I have a remix coming out through my good friend Montel from Belfast and his label Misfit Music. A track from Oscar Escapa has been remodelled by me, and someone said it sounds a little bit like if Chicken Lips went techno… which is a description I really like. Apart from those there is my recent Drumcode EP called “Insanity” which took a lot of energy to do, so it’s great to see that it’s still riding high in the charts! After producing those four tracks on Drumcode I felt I earned a bit of a break, and I’ve been hanging out with my wife and kids, as that is even more important than techno!
Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, you can buy the new release on Strange Idles from HERE.