With tracks on FIFA 16 and various other films and adverts on TV, the catchiness of Tiggs Da Author’s music is undeniable.
James Kenny caught him on the phone to discuss his Grammy aspirations, the influence pirate radio had on him and the state of modern Britain.
You can catch him perform this Saturday from 5pm-6pm on the main stage at Body&Soul on Ballinlough Castle’s grounds.
I was reading a BBC interview with you a while ago where you said pirate radio had been a big influence on you from a young age. What type of music was it? What radio stations?
It was basically grime from local artists. There were all these pirate stations man and we used to just like slam records off them, you know?. Like we’d be bangin’ So Solid Crew and whatever. Like this was when there was no other way to really get music. You had to go down to the record store. You had to tune into the stations and hear your favourite DJ and like if you missed the time slot or the opening hours or whatever that was it you went back for the next round.
I remember hearing records and rocking to them, usually the grime ones, for a very long time and having no idea who they were by or what those guys looked like or whatever. It was kind of pure. Like in a way, it’s better now because you can make your stuff and get it out there but back then you were relying on someone’s taste. So a lot of what you were hearing was local artists. You didn’t think about it like that though back then. It was just music. Vibes like, do you get me? It was all good. All love.
Musically it can be tricky to pinpoint obvious influences to your music, which is one of the things that I find enjoyable about your records. Are there any artists that when you started writing music that you wanted to emulate?
I take inspiration from a lot of places. When I started I was listening to a lot of African jazz music like Fela Kuti, I was also listening to a lot of music from the Motown era. So it’s a mixture between a lot of music that was around in the 60s.
You have a track in last year’s FIFA. You also famously said you want a Grammy really badly. Which is a bigger achievement?
I just look at every achievement differently, I don’t really compare them. I could have never have imagined in a million years getting a track in FIFA, and then it happened. I don’t know man, there are a lot of things I want to achieve and they all mean so much to me.
Interestingly, there’s a lot of talk that the ‘big label’ thing is over. I’m of the opinion that you don’t necessarily need it. But you’re signed to RCA. So is it as dead as people make it out to be?
It just depends on whether you enjoy working with the people that you’re working with. It comes down to your relationship with the individuals. It depends what path you want to take and what your goals are, so there’s nothing wrong with it if it’s what you want to do.
Yeah I get you. At the moment it seems there are nearly as many record labels as there are artists. What’s the path, the journey like to get into a big record label?
It was just about doing my own thing really. I wasn’t really on the radio. It was at a time when I had a band together and we were just doing shows, and I guess they saw something.
Another thing I wanted to ask you, you said before you wanted to do a collab with Damian Marley. How is that going to come about, and when do you think we can hear it?
Only god knows when that’s going to happen, but hopefully if I put that energy out there it will come about. I’m not sure what it’ll sound like but hopefully something good will come of it.
What is it about Damian that captures your imagination?
I’ve always been a massive fan of his music, his message. He’s an artist who speaks his mind and has no fear. Those are the sort of musicians that I really connect with.
If you had to pick one Damian track, not counting Welcome to Jamrock, what would it be?
The one with Bobby Brown. ‘Beautiful‘ it’s called.
Yeah, that’s a sick song. One more question for you. In the UK at the moment after the election, there’s a lot of uncertainty, but there’s also a lot of positivity with youth voter turn out. There’s also an interesting split between musicians where some say a conservative government is bad for the arts, while others are saying it’s exactly what the arts need because it’s a force to react to. Where do you sit in that debate?
Musicians where I come from come from council estates, growing up in south London my friends and their families needed help from the government. Conservatives are trying to cut down on that, which means people aren’t even going to be able to survive. It’s not for the young people, especially coming from my sort of background. So is it good for the music? Probably not. But we have a way of making things work.
Tiggs Da Author performs from 5pm-6pm on the main stage at Body&Soul this Saturday.