I hadn't heard the name Handsome Tiger before this past summer, and now I can't go long without seeing the name Handsome Tiger. With a slew of one-off shows and festival stops – Including Fest-stealing appearances at those meccas of west coast bass, Bass Coast and Shambahala (Where I first stumbled upon him) – the good homie is quickly becoming a fixture in the West Coast bass scene. Consistently delivering a phenomenal blend of smooth, deep bass, hip-hop sensibilities and world-beat flourishes, in a remarkably short time, Handsome Tiger has created a unique and thrilling sound in a world over-saturated with repeats. “It's been about two years that I've been DJing under this moniker and putting out electronic music.,” says Tiger, talking at me from home in Vancouver. “It's really great because shows and opportunities are happening more frequently and I'm very appreciative. All the hard work is starting to pay off.”
Like a lot of my favourite electronic artists, Handsome Tiger's roots lay in instruments, in live music. “I was a vocalist, played guitar and drums and bass. I grew up playing more dancey indie rock/rock 'n' roll/psychadelic kind of stuff. That was where I started. I always had an appreciation for electronic music but it wasn't really in the forefront,” he says of his musical beginnings. “I was trying to pinpoint getting into bass music...You know when your parents tell you something is really cool but you're too young and naive to really get it? I always refer back to that story that I have with my dad. In our household growing up there was always lots of dub and reggae and dancehall and stuff like that – the roots of bass music essentially. I grew up on listening to a lot more of that music and having that around as a kid. Three or four years ago I started heavily listening to pretty much just electronic music, deep bass music, more the UK stuff and I started to wonder, 'Where does this music come from? Oh wait...' This is what my dad was trying to tell me and now I'm 30 and I realize that he's right.” Nothing like realizing your parents were right the whooooole time. Luckily, all his dad's love of low-key legendary bass rubbed off and we get the fine work of Handsome Tiger to enjoy on our dancefloors now. I was fortunate enough to get a bit of the good homie's time in between his rapid takeover of groovy places so we could chat about KoRn, a deep fear and Attempting Vegan.
1. Do you remember the first album you bought with your own money?
I definitely remember being super excited – this is super embarrassing – there was this CD store that was a 10 minute walk from my school when I was in grade 6 or 7. I remember being obsessed with bands like KoRn and Blink-182. I remember being 12 or 13, all excited and needing the new KoRn album really badly.
I have a friend whose jam is to go through bands catalogues in the span of a week or whatever and after listening to KoRn's entire catalogue, he determined that they are the worst band in the history of rock music.
<laughs> They were good in their time and when that was a thing, but it's very depressing music.
They got some jams. I'll always have a soft spot for “Got the Life.”
Yeah, definitely! I love that track. Pretty much anything off that record...that was the one.
2. When's the last time you did something for the first time?
I just finished sober November....almost. I had a drink last night (Nov.30), the first time in a month. My girlfriend and I were also doing vegan for a month – she's a vegetarian and I'm not a huge meat eater. We did that for a month and that was, in my opinion, complete bullshit. I can't do it. Yesterday I picked her up from work and she said, “We need to get groceries.” I said, “Do you feel like cooking?” Because I totally didn't feel like it. She said, “No, not really.” “Well, what if we ordered pizza and pretended that it's the first of December...” Then she said, “Yeah, what if we went and filled up our growler too?” So, we made it almost a month. A month less a day.
I don't think I could do the vegan thing. Good for you.
Dude, it's tough. You really have to meal prep or you're asking about everything. Even just stuff, minor things, bagels and shit like that. “I don't know if there's egg in it or not.” Kudos to the people that can do it but it's definitely not for me. I love cheese.
Cheese! Did you notice the not-drinking? Was there much of a difference for you?
Honestly, I'm not a huge drinker. Obviously when you're DJing and living that lifestyle on the weekends, you generally do drink most of the time, but even with gigging I'm not a big drinker. That being said, I do enjoy getting drunk every now and then. It's definitely different being up all night at the rave and not drinking at all, but I felt a little more clear-minded. My girlfriend and I are – I don't wanna say craft beer snobs 'cause it's nice – but a couple times a week we'll cook a nice dinner and fill the growler, have a couple glasses of beer. That's more the extent of drinking that I missed. It wasn't a huge miss, but I definitely lost some weight.
3. If you could spend the day with anyone living or dead, who would it be and what would you do?
I would pick someone like Scratch Perry. But, I think, dead person, I'd say George Harrison. Just hang out and play guitar.
4. Three songs for the perfect day – one for the morning, one for the afternoon and one for the evening. What's your soundtrack?
Morning jam: Bob Marley – Babylon System. Anything off Survival, really. For me, there's the nicer, chiller, happier songs that he's known for but there's a lot of very political content as well, about Africa and that kind of stuff. I feel like it's a good blend to start the day with – get you thinking, but still be chill and relaxing.
Afternoon jam: Iamddb – Shade. Lately I've been listening to a lot of Iamdbb. She has two tracks on her newest record that I really dig. “Running” and “Shade.” “Shade” is more uppity, good for the afternoon, running around getting stuff done.
Night jam: Bonobo feat. Erykah Badu – Heaven For the Sinner. I started listening to that record (Northern Borders) a lot a few years ago when I started getting into more electronic music. I loved listening to that track coming home from the party or rave. It's that kind of soothing, chilling at home at 5 in the morning kind of thing.
5. You get the lucky privilege of having two guest questions this time. The first of your guest questions is from the legend, Z-Trip...What is your biggest fear?
Self-doubt. Having anxiety as an artist, the idea of being never being fully satisfied with what you're working on.
6. Second guest question comes from the homie Jennay Badger...What is the album that's made you cry the most or your go-to album for doing some crying/emotional cleanout?
Jeff Buckley's Grace. That album is full of the feels.