Montreal-based EDM trio Black Tiger Sex Machine knows that brand recognition and having a strong image is more important than it has ever been in the music industry, and they have done a heck of a job.
Part of Black Tiger Sex Machine’s image are the three light-up tiger helmets that members Marc-André Chagnon, Julien Maranda and Patrick Barry wear while performing.
Helmets have been a convenient and popular solution to create mystery and brand association on sight. Deadmau5 is probably the most well-known example. The helmets become part of the show themselves, and often evolve as the music does.
“We’ve wanted to build a more immersive show since day one, and the helmets were the first huge step towards that goal. We’re getting set to go on the road with version 2.0 of the helmets right now. [We’re] pretty pumped,” Chagnon said.
When it comes to live performances, EDM music is at a disadvantage compared to acts with traditional instruments. When you’re stuck behind a deck you have to work a little harder to provide visuals to pump up the crowd. Artists have been able to get around this by incorporating other elements like light shows, lots of fist pumping and even cake-throwing.
Another challenge for artists can be keeping up with trends. Electronic dance music as a genre encompasses dozens of other subgenres, each of which gets their sometimes fleeting time in the spotlight.
“Things come in and out of fashion really fast here. It gives you an edge to stay on top of things and always remain curious and motivated,” Chagnon said.
Black Tiger Sex Machine and the label they started, Kannibalen Records, focusses on darker, heavy bass electronic music. Their tunes often feel like post-apocalyptic battle hymns.
Although BTSM’s image is polished, their roots are very down to earth and do-it-yourself.
After they released their first single Chagnon, Maranda and Barry were looking for a label that would fit their sound. Eventually they realised that to get on their ideal label, they’d have to make it themselves.
When it came to starting their own label, BTSM took the same first step any other first timer would: they Googled it.
“Google became our best friend; the key, or our textbook if you will, became to understand how and what others did,” Chagnon said.
The trio had previously hosted a series of successful parties in Montreal called Kannibalen, so they extended the parties’ brand to their label, Kannibalen Records.
Black Tiger Sex Machine want their performances to be an immersive experience.
“An image can be one way that an artist differentiates him or herself from others, from his or her peers. Better yet, this image can be a way by which fans identify themselves with you, beyond your music. It’s yet another hook to get possible fans to enter your universe. Ultimately, the quality of your music is what will matter, but a strong image can only be a positive,” Chagnon said.
Earlier this year Black Tiger Sex Machine released their first full-length album, Welcome To Our Church, and they will tour the United States throughout April.