After a chance meeting in 1999, the duo of Igor Tchkotoua and Dan Duncan—better known by their stage name, Pig & Dan—began producing music together, and have now been doing so for over a decade. Through a powerfully connected creative partnership, the Spain-based pair has taken electronic music by storm. They gained early notoriety for their distinct techno and tech-house hits on Cocoon and Soma Records, but late last year they launched their own label, Elevate, to further expand their catalog. We spoke with Tchkotoua about their creative process, the importance of their on-stage connectedness, the progression of their sound, and, of course, Elevate.
What kind of music did you listen to growing up? How do you think those bands or artists have influenced your sound today?
We have listened to a lot of different types of music, from soul to rock, hip-hop, funk, and even classical music. It was never about genres of music; it was more about quality and what gets under our skin. Music has always been a constant, and a passion in our lives. I guess we take the bits we like from every genre and, in one way or another, put it into our tracks. There are many other things that influence our music… experiences, states of mind, places we have visited… We’re like sponges, absorbing energy and experience and channeling it to express those feelings and experiences through our productions.
I’ve read that you met by chance on a flight, and again three years later through a friend. Where do you think your lives would have taken you had you not met?
I think we would have still worked in music because it is truly our passion. We were both, as individuals, determined to build a career out of music. I had already started producing electronic music, DJing, and organizing full-moon parties many years before. Dan had produced drum & bass with LTJ Bukem’s label Goodlooking Records, and was DJing, and playing live concerts all over the world.
You’ve been working together musically for more than decade. How has your sound progressed since then?
I think that our sound has evolved since we started. As artists and perfectionists, we are always trying to improve and make different tracks with different sounds, and although we have a signature style, we are always challenging ourselves and changing the ways we work in the studio to find new, exciting elements at the same time. We are continuously trying to refine our sounds and productions. We started on the more progressive side of things and now I would say our music is more directed at audiences that enjoy house, tech house, and techno.
How do you think your 10 years spent together as on-stage partners has affected the way you work together creatively?
Working together for all these years has been a great experience. Of course, it’s had its highs and lows, but it’s been an amazing learning experience. When you work with someone for so long you learn to be more patient, and more tolerant, and most of all, you learn how to take criticism. Producing music is a creative process… You might start with one idea that completely changes because your partner doesn’t like something or vice-versa. In the early years of Pig & Dan, it wasn’t uncommon for us to argue over creative differences, but now we’ve learned to put our egos aside and get on with the important thing—making fat tracks!
Let’s talk about your label, Elevate. What has it been like running your own imprint?
We adore running Elevate. We love having the ability to project a sound we believe in, and pushing artists that are perhaps not recognized yet. It’s pure excitement now that we have finally found a team of people we know we can trust. With the likes of ex-Cocoon label boss Pauli Steinbach heading the team, we feel that we can truly take this right to the top.
What further insights about the industry, or music in general, have you gained from becoming label heads?
Sadly, we’ve learned a lot about the bad side of the industry… Many folk that we worked with previously were in it for the wrong reasons. There are so many people in the music industry that don’t really have passion on the same level that we do—people are here because they think it’s easy money. “Success doesn’t stem from luck, it stems from hard-ass work”—it’s far from an easy route.
Your 2012 release “Savage” was a huge success. What was the inspiration behind the tune? How did it feel to be releasing under your new label?
To be honest, I don’t think we could pinpoint what inspired us to make that tune; sometimes it just happens—like magic! I don’t even know where it comes from, it just happens. We produce music for our followers and for ourselves, and so we can play it in our DJ sets. If we don’t play it in a set, it’s not good enough and we don’t bother releasing it. Or we completely change the track til we are satisfied with the result. It was very special to make that release under Elevate, especially since the track did well, and has really been appreciated by the music community.
How would you describe the Pig & Dan listener?
I would say the listener is similar to us in a lot of ways: someone that is passionate about music and life, a bon vivant, someone that appreciates the good things, that is open-minded about music and wants to let go from time to time—I guess even a bit rebellious. Definitely someone that doesn’t mind being a bit outrageous!