Photo of Black Tiger Sex Machine

Behind the Roar: Unmasking Black Tiger Sex Machine

Electricity fills the air, and an unmistakable buzz permeates the crowd. This isn’t just any live performance—it’s Black Tiger Sex Machine (BTSM) stepping onto the stage, and at that moment, you know you’re about to witness something extraordinary.

From Quebec, Canada, Black Tiger Sex Machine’s Julien Maranda, Marc Chagnon, and Patrick Barry have revolutionized the electronic music experience, moving from ‘French-touch’ electro to transcending the boundaries of electronic music.

The latest endeavor of Black Tiger Sex Machine, the BTSM Portals Tour, builds upon its legacy of innovation by curating venues with LED walls and state-of-the-art setups chosen to ensure an immersive odyssey. Their journey culminates in their most anticipated show of the year at the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

The idea of Black Tiger Sex Machine presenting Portals is not going away. We want to keep this idea that we can bring Portals to multiple places around the world,” Julien stated to MP3 MAG in an interview. 

AEG Presents: Black Tiger Sex Machine @ Red Rocks on October 22, 2023

Their upcoming album, Portals, slated for release in October 2023, reflects the vision of Black Tiger Sex Machine to blur the lines between music and visual art. It builds on the Portal‘s essence, promising to keep fans hooked with lyrics intricately woven into the narrative of their BTSM live performances. 

Creating beats as a trio offers a unique dynamic. Each member of Black Tiger Sex Machine brings their unique skill set to the table. This facilitates a continuous exchange of fresh ideas, keeping their sound vibrant and ever-evolving. From their humble beginnings in Montreal to their success today, Black Tiger Sex Machine’s journey is living proof of their collective vision.

The heart of their performances lies in the narratives and creating an engaging story for their audience. Julien shares, “I love the feeling of easing into a show using a storyline and seeing all the production coming alive together.” With BTSM, each performance isn’t just a show; it’s a visual and auditory feast with a story that unfolds and keeps the audience riveted.

Behind the scenes of every BTSM performance, there’s a detailed web of technical and artistic coordination, shaped by the individual roles and talents of the trio.

Julien is the maestro of lights, engaging in ‘finger drumming’ that controls the patterns and sequences on their iconic helmet lights. This desire to play lights as an instrument stem from Julien’s belief in its uniqueness and excitement. Julien also launches additional samples during the show, looping and playing vocals live on top of the songs, adding layers to the aural oasis. 

Photo of Black Tiger Sex Machine
Photo Credit: Karel Chladek

Patrick, the keyboardist of the group, layers melodies on top of the main skeleton that Marc launches. His contributions further enhance the intricacy and richness of the music, bringing it to life in harmony with the visuals.

Marc’s role, although off-tour, remains pivotal in constructing the shows. He is responsible for launching and mixing all the songs for the live set, essentially building the skeleton of the show. This skeleton, shaped by the tracks he plays, triggers the entire visual experience of lights and visuals. His precision ensures that every element of the performance is linked with the music.

The unique feature of BTSM’s system is the extensive encoding within each song. Each track is more than just music—it holds encoded information that triggers corresponding visuals, lights, and lasers. Therefore, if the song isn’t playing, the BTSM live performance quite literally stops. Every beat, every note, and every visual effect comes together to narrate a mesmerizing story that is a BTSM show.

In addition to its concoction of sound and stunning visuals, Black Tiger Sex Machine’s iconic black tiger helmets have become a symbol of their distinctive brand. The helmets, adorned with lights that are aligned with their music, which is being controlled by Julien, represent BTSM’s desire to connect with their audience on a deeper level. 

I was trying to find a way to barely use a microphone, and the goal with the helmets is to create a connection between us and the crowd, via lights. The idea was to have a symbol with lights. If you just see the lighting in the dark, people recognize us. It’s our way of speaking to the crowd through helmet lights, lighting, visuals, and music,” Julien explains. 

Their dedicated fan base, affectionately known as the ‘Church fam,’ embodies the symbiotic relationship between the band and their followers. The name came organically from the group’s early days, when they rented a chapel in Montreal for their first demo. A fan started a Facebook group for BTSM and named it ‘BTSM Church’. Since then, the name made sense and stuck with the group. 

Julien proudly says, “I’m someone who loves interacting with fans, and I love the feedback I receive from them. I love that the concept became so big that the storyline exists now. I love seeing women coming to shows dressed up as Naomi (a character in the Portals universe), and guys re-interpreting the fighters and A.I. zombies. It’s cool to see that the crossover we have created has a real reach with the fan base.

In the world of electronic music, there are creatives and there are entertainers. Then there’s Black Tiger Sex Machine, innovators, storytellers, and pioneers of a truly mind-blowing performance all crafted into one. From the electrifying beats and breathtaking visuals to the interactive narratives, every BTSM show promises to be an unforgettable night.

Black Tiger Sex Machine’s upcoming performance at Red Rocks isn’t merely another gig—it’s an experience, a celebration, and a voyage that concludes their grind. It’s a testament to their shared love for music, storytelling, and the unbreakable bond they’ve forged with their fans. Find more info on the show here:


Michela is a writer for MP3 MAG. With six years of studying journalism under her belt, Michela is an aspiring dance music journalist who interviews artists, writes about their upcoming releases, and also covers electronic dance music festivals.