Tiger & Woods The Italian artists talk new album “A.O.D.”

Since 2009, Italian DJs and producers Marco Passarani and Valerio Del Prete have distilled their love of house, boogie, and 80s electro into Tiger & Woods. While their names and back stories were initially kept under wraps, the duo made waves with a string of infectious tracks that sampled and re-imagined loops and beats from those aforementioned dance tracks. Their white labels crossed over into mainstream success with “Gin Nation,” an epic tune that riffs on and expands the catchiest elements of Imagination’s “Music and Lights.” Since then, Passarani and Del Prete have toured heavily and released a deluge of remixes, original tracks, and two full-lengths, Through the Green and On the Green Again.

On April 12, Tiger & Woods return with A.O.D., their third album and second with Running Back. The title, short for “Album Oriented Dance,” reflects a record that slows down the tempo from the duo’s usual high-energy style — or, as the album’s press indicates, “a chill out album you can dance to or a dance album you can chill out to.”

In the lead up to the record’s release, Tiger & Woods shed some light on revealing their names after years of mystery and golf references, their ever-evolving live setup, and their embrace of sunset drives and pre-party vibes with A.O.D.. Read the interview below, and listen to an exclusive stream of A.O.D. track “A Lovely Change” here:

The Tiger & Woods origin was initially unknown or obviously made up (I’m thinking of all the golf references). At what point did it make sense to reveal your names and backgrounds as producers and DJs?

Exactly as you say, it wasn’t meant to be a longstanding name. We just needed a name to use for a sort of bootleg we did. We didn’t wanna involve our personal names (which were our artist names as well) due to the nature of the project. The game went a bit too far and we had fun with it for a moment, but at some point it didn’t make much sense anymore. We met so many people we knew already from before, and it was always an awkward moment when we saw each others and we had to admit… “Yes, yes. It’s us.” Also, at some point, pages like discogs.com started writing our full name carelessly (of course!) of the game. It just didn’t make any sense to keep pushing for the secret. In Italy, there’s a saying that goes, “A joke is fun if it doesn’t last for too long.”

The new record is A.O.D. (short for Album Oriented Dance). What was different about the concept and songwriting when you set out to make album number three as opposed to your previous two?

This project has been pretty much relegated to a certain type of dance music, against our will in a way. I mean, the use of samples (pretty heavy in a couple of early cases) became a sort of trademark of our sound, even when we were not sampling anything. Let’s say that we haven’t been super excited to keep reading the word “edit” next to our name. I mean, it could have worked in the beginning on two or three songs (and on some of our private re-take that we used on our DJ sets). But then it was just too much. We have been doing all the efforts to fuck up samples in the most creative way and to clear samples as much as we could, which also affected our production as we stopped just grabbing whatever we wanted to use. You can imagine that ending up in the edit crates no matter what we were doing, where a lot of stuff is done in a very lazy way (beat fixed and kick on top), or without even an attempt to make the operation legal, made us wanna give up everything. This situation brought us in a mental state where we had the feeling no one was listening to our music, but just thinking about Gin Nation (which by the way, was a legal operation). There’s a huge difference between using samples and making edits. Huge huge huge.

Since we re-started the solo projects too, where we unleashed the creativity in a wider way, we decided to bring this flavor into Tiger & Woods as well, and we decided to tell a story through our music, dedicated to all of those who used to be youngsters when we started and now are entering an adult phase, where maybe dancing is not central anymore. A challenge: make a dance record for those who mostly won’t be enjoying it in a club like they used to do.

AOD sounds less club- and dance-oriented, with slower BPMs and more focus on setting a mid-tempo groove. Did you envision an ideal listening scenario? How are you planning to adapt the slower tracks to a dancefloor setting?

We surely had a vision on a potential scenario when we wrote these songs. We had a clear picture in our mind, a drive through the countryside looking for that huge club where we wanna get lost and dance till the morning lights. This was a classic thing when we were younger, huge dance temple that were everywhere in Italy outside of the big cities. Our songs are a tribute to the night trip to those locations and to the morning trip from those locations. A slow-tempo journey, like a soundtrack to a blurred movie of dance moves inside those giant spaces that looked like spaceships.

We understand we won’t be able to represent this in every club, but the idea is to perform the songs live when we do a night takeover, at the beginning of the night. If we are playing all night, we have the opportunity to tell a story with every details, so live first and then DJ set. And, of course, we are more than happy to perform this album live in smaller intimate venues where the tempo drive pressure is maybe less asphyxiating.

Can you talk about how you put together a track? A lot of your best-known songs are based around a familiar looped sample, but you create your own beats and samples on many other tracks. Do you have a stockpile of old 80s boogie and house samples you’ve yet to use?

There’s not really an easy answer to this, as it’s always a different process. Just sticking to old Tiger & Woods production, yes, we had an idea of twisting samples in a particular way, and they were all coming from a certain period. We used to find a loop, then move the start until we get the loop “wrong.” Basically digging a different groove within a groove we know really well. It’s a technique we use also in our “no sample” production, writing something and then move the start point till you get something new and fresher. At the moment, we are more on the writing side of things, so if we wanna do an old school Tiger & Woods track, we usually create a fake old song first and then sample it. And we mostly don’t use samples for beats, but we try to recreate the sound of those days through our vintage gears.

Going off of that last question, do you handle remixes in the same way you would with an original track? I’m thinking of the Sam Sparro remix (“Let the Love In”), in particular, where it sounds like a T&W track that happens to sample the Sparro vocals.

Well, it really depends on the original source. Sometimes we treated the remix like we were doing a sort of fuck up of the original master, without even using parts. Playing with micro loops of the original and start playing other tiny elements on top till you get a new groove. But the one you mention with Sam, it was so tempting to incorporate the vocals on a new song, where we added elements of the original and gave them a different light. Basically, there is no rule. It all comes to the source and how it sounds like.

Did the success of “Gin Nation” change your approach to the project and the use of samples? That track’s popularity seems to have been the turning point from T&W as an anonymous white label entity to an in-demand remixer and live act.

Well, it’s the track that made the buzz go crazy, a bless and a curse. One of those songs that people keep asking about, even 10 years after in the middle of an uptempo set. It definitely boosted the project to a “producer-remixer” level, because I believe many people appreciated how we twisted an old piece and made it sound contemporary without altering either the sound and the main groove. I mean, we didn’t play an “apple loop” on top to make it work on the dancefloor of the club around the corner. And about the live act, that was just an idea to preserve the Tiger sound during the performances, as when we DJ we play everything and we go everywhere. We needed a change after many many years of just DJ’ing.

You’re noted for your live shows and near-constant touring schedule. From my perspective, having seen T&W twice in 2012, you blend elements of DJ’ing with jamming or augmenting certain sections of a track in real-time. How did you two initially develop the live show, and how has it changed for you over the duration of the project?

We are clearly DJ and studio musicians. We are not trained performer musicians, so maybe you are right. We brought the DJ set approach into the live arrangement of the songs. Can totally relate to what you wrote here. We changed the live show so many times since the beginning, swapping gears, bringing the computer, killing the computer, buying stuff and selling stuff. But we always kept the same approach of re-creating separate zones of the original songs, separating as many instruments as we can so that we could easily replace them just using a new synth or a sample bank if that was convenient. But I have to say that we finally found a balance, just now with our current setup. We have a core of the live show that is identical to the core of the studio, basically bringing the comfort of the studio on stage or bringing the excitement of the stage in studio. A very easy multi-layer setup where everything is replaceable in the arrangement. Multiple sequencers that are all “independently synced,” thanks to that magic box called Multiclock by E-Rm. And not only, now we also work on real-time-manipulated video during the performance. We developed a system through JavaScripts, Resolume software, and an infrared-mapping camera that is perfect for this A.O.D vibe, helping those hidden memories to come out.

You spend a lot of time on the road, playing shows and DJing. What are some of your tour rituals or things you like to check out in new cities? Does the tiger action figure still travel with you?

We clearly always look for a good espresso — we have a personal fight against the new-school espresso taking over the planet in bike stores. So we always go for a Don Quixote mission pretending to find our home coffee on the other side of the planet! Ahaha, apart from the jokes, we try to see a bit of the real city and possibly a couple of instruments store and record stores. And about the Tiger: unfortunately, after being stolen so many times, we decided to keep it safe in our studio, because at the end of the day “a joke is fun if it doesn’t last for too long.”

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