What’s in your bag? is a recurring feature where we ask people to tell us a bit more about their everyday gadgets by opening their bags and hearts to us. This week, we’re featuring Montreal electronic music trio Black Tiger Sex Machine.
We have to get rid of some of these bags, guys.”
When The Verge walks into the hotel room for electronic trio Black Tiger Sex Machine, the bed is piled high with bags. There’s at least six — and that’s the whittled-down selection, excluding personal suitcases and larger Pelican cases that house all the parts for the Montreal trio’s extensive live setup with drum machines, launchpads, keyboards, and more.
The group, made up of Marc Chagnon, Julien Maranda, and Patrick Barry, are known as much for their hard-hitting, bass-soaked tracks as they are for their label Kannibalen Records (which has signed artists like Snails and Apashe), and their immersive performance, where they sport 3D-printed tiger helmets with lighting that syncs to the music.
This last portion is why The Verge is facing a mountain of bags. They do it all themselves, and it takes a lot of stuff to not only make a Black Tiger Sex Machine show run, but make sure they’re good to go again in a matter of minutes in case anything screws up. That means hard drives, cables ad infinitum, dongles, and the helmets, which the guys insist must be in their sights at all times. They’re brought as carry-on for every flight.
There’s a grip of items here, even when considering they’re spread across three people, not one. But what they’ve chosen to carry is a testament to their Boy Scout-level of preparedness with everything tech. It also shows a work ethos that has allowed them to not only debut new, more versatile helmets this year, but also release their second album, New Worlds, and put out the 17th installment of their Futuristic Thriller Mix, which samples from Blade Runner 2049. Check out everything a techy, future-tiger trio has to bring with to make it all tick, below.
Marc Chagnon: I went through probably like four or five or six [bags] in the last two to three years, and this one has the most real estate. It has over 12 different pocket sizes. You can put everything in there. You can fit two laptops and a notebook plus an iPad and clothes, so it can actually fit almost everything I need to carry. So I could leave with this backpack and have all my gear for the weekend, plus my clothes. It looks small, but you can put so much in it.
How have you gone through six bags?
MC: I don’t know.
Julien Maranda: He buys backpacks, and he wants to be the only one to have the backpack. When everyone else starts buying it, then he wants a new one. [Everyone laughs]
MC: I love backpacks. This one is just awesome.
MC: The laptop is a 2017 13-inch MacBook Pro. Our whole DJ library is on that one. It’s not used for live shows. Strangely, we had so many issues with USB-C and the new MacBook, so we reverted back to 2015 MacBook Pros with standard USB for the live shows. We even tried USB-C to printer socket, and that didn’t work. Plus, I’m a big dude, and if I’m going to work in planes, the 13-inch is better.
Who does the camera belong to?
Patrick Barry: I bought it a year and a half ago, just for fun to take pictures when we’re traveling. Our photographer recommended this mirrorless one to me. It’s a hobby. And when you take pictures with it, you’re not draining yourself of [phone] battery, which is practical. It’s a toy I carry with me.
You’re underplaying it!
JM: I’ve never seen a picture taken with this camera.
MC: It’s been a running joke.
JM: We see him take pictures...
PB: It’s just for me. That’s my one thing, and I don’t feel the need to expose it! I’m still learning. When you take pictures with a camera, and you have your photographer next to you taking amazing pictures, it’s like, “Okay, I still have some work to do.”
Who has the Galaxy S8?
PB: That’s me. I just don’t like iOS as much because it locks you into everything Apple. I used to have an iPhone. And then I started using Android. I find it does everything either as well or better than an iPhone, and it’s cheaper. So I’m with Android right now.
And why do you two have iPhones?
JM: I have everything on the cloud. My phone was stolen in Argentina last year when I was backpacking. I bought a new one, and right away, everything was back how it was before. If you’re very organized with Apple, it’s very easy, especially with cloud. It can be complicated for certain things, like if you’re playing around between two computers, but if you’re organized with a cellphone, it’s really good. I have my notepads all linked up, for example, so then when I write notes, it syncs on all my other devices.
MC: I haven’t upgraded because I don’t think it really makes sense. I used to be a freak and buy every new phone. But now, I haven’t for two years. What’s really awesome is iMessage and FaceTime across iPad and MacBook and iPhone, mostly to keep up with family and loved ones. It’s very useful.
The hard drive is our whole DJ collection, plus our live show backup hard drives. We use various types of protocols and different kinds of software because we integrate the video and lighting signals in our shows. So there’s a lot of backup software and backup drivers, and we also keep a version of every single live show we play. Sometimes we lose media clips due to weird protocols within Ableton with Max for Live and OSC dispatchers. It’s weird. So we often go back to old live shows to grab back things like visual clips.
JM: My external over there has all of our files for the latest album all backed up. I carry two externals. This one is more for the final files, and the other one is for more big bin stuff. It’s pretty big, a few terabytes.
If you need to organize your stuff on the road, especially trying to finish music, and we’re bouncing off files... I try to have everything organized somewhere so that any time we need something, we can send it.
[Opens up cable bag] This is disorganized, but it’s cables for anything, just because all the Apple stuff now with USB is kind of a mess, and backups.
MC: I use at least two dongles per trip.
Why did you pick these Sony headphones?
MC: I was looking online around my birthday. My parents gave me some money for headphones. I used to have Sennheisers, and, basically, I don’t mind having consumer headphones when traveling. These sound super good for movies or label demos. They feel nice, and the reviews on it were awesome, so I gave them a try and love them. The last time I had Sony headphones was probably 2003.
JM: And these headphones are pretty good. [points to workout headphones] I actually bought some for Marc. When you’re sweating, most of these wireless gym headphones tend to slip out of your ear, but these don’t. It leaves a little bit of place for sound to come in. I know it sounds weird, but when you’re at the gym, you want to be aware a little bit of your environment, like when people are coming in, if you’re lifting, whatever. And the battery life is like, 10 to 15 hours. I rarely have to charge them, and it’s been almost been two years.
We always go to the gym. I think I went to the gym 15 out of the last 16 days. That’s why when we’re traveling a lot, we’re not too fucked up. We go to the gym instead of getting really fucked up all the time. So this is kind of an essential thing.
I also watch a lot of Fortnite streaming at the moment at the gym with those. I don’t know why. I don’t even play it much. I’ve never listened to streaming ever, but Ninja gets me.
The mouse is by Anker. When we’re on the road, we’re working a lot, and I have tendonitis in my right hand from clicking. This is ergonomical, and it really helps. And it feels like the future.
MC: The in-ears we use for the live show. They’re Ultimate Ears and have four drivers — one only for bass, two for mids, and one for highs. It’s been a life-saver because they just block up to 30 decibels, and sometimes we have up to four channels on the mixer playing at the same time. This is perfect sound in your ears, and I never get any damage from the live show because I put it at 25–30 percent on the mixer, and it just sounds great all the time.
MC: The beard comb is part of my Amazon online buying addiction. I have two or three others. Whenever I come back from tour, I just buy a few objects online. Right now, my beard isn’t too big so I don’t use it. But when it’s longer, it’s very useful.
JM: I try to always buy something when I travel. So I have one ring that I bought from this artist from Argentina who was selling jewelry. I have one thumb ring from Essaouira, Morocco. Over there, when you’re getting jewelry, you have to go back and forth to deal on the price for a few days. I walked away three days in a row, and they brought down the price. And then I just bought a ring and bracelet in China. It’s a little souvenir. The Pikachu? Since I’ve been young, I’ve collected figurines and stuffed animals. And I like Pokémon. So I just went into a store and got it.
The face mask is from South Korea. I thought it was funnier to have a dog face. The Ray-Bans are so I can look like Jim Morrison.
JM: I feel like you should share this because nobody knows that we carry [the helmets] on the plane. Basically, this is version three of the helmet. We don’t check them because we don’t want to risk them getting lost or destroyed. So we buy the smallest sports bag that we can find once in a while, and when they are ruined, we change them out. We’re very careful with it. The lipo battery is actually something we don’t use as much now. We’ll use it again when we do wireless. We’re wired right now, but we’re going back to wireless soon. We bring these batteries so that if we walk at festivals, we can just have our older belts with the brains, and those can light up the helmets.
The lipo guard bag is so in case something does happen, the fire is going to be contained inside the bag. That’s a fireproof bag.
MC: TSA never flags the helmets. They’re curious every once in a while, but that’s it.
JM: I think people just bring very weird stuff on planes.
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