Big Gigantic

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Big Gigantic

While others may struggle to define the duo, Lalli finds the task pretty straightforward. Without any hesitation he states, “I think we would classify ourselves as electronic dance music. All of those three words are going on during our show. Electronic, dance and music. But we play everything from dubstep to hip hop to electro during our live show.” Within his response, Lalli has broken down the Big Gigantic sound while avoiding denoting one specific throughline.
Formed in 2008 the pair, Lalli is joined by drummer Jeremy Salken, found that their joint passion for musical experimentation was a uniting force and before long they had set our on their shared musical journey. While their fusion sound may be deemed original and defy simple box-style categorisation, Lalli is not the type of musician who feigns originality and is only too happy to admit that he looks at others for inspiration. “I look to other music I like and other producers that I like. I also look for things/feelings/emotions/experiences that I’ve had in my life to be reflected through the music.”
As the producer of the partnership, it would be easy to presume that today’s band spokesperson is the leading light of the partnership, but Lalli is first to correct any false perception. Their partnership is born out of creativity as opposed to ego-driven spotlight seeking, as such the process is one of mutual motivation. While he far from gives the whole game away, he is happy to offer this brief insight into their dynamic. “Well I play sax/keys and DJ and Jeremy essentially plays drums along with me. We play songs but we also do quite a bit of improvising and building/soloing together over/within the music.”
As a minimal outfit, their sound is superbly rounded. With all their strengths brought to the fore, the pair clearly bounce off each other and make the most of the limited tools that they have at their disposal. While it could be said that a partnership between a producer/saxophonist and drummer simply should not work, given its obvious limitations, it is equally clear that the proof is in the pudding with regards their abilities. With a wealth of material already under their belts (their debut LP Fire It Up was a must have, then they unleashed the irrepressible stonker A Place Behind The Moon), the pair are now in constant demand for performances on a global scale. When probed about what exactly brought them together, and at the same time, what makes such an odd equation so supremely successful, Lalli responds, “We were both people who love to play music and improvise but also huge lovers of electronic music. We wanted to start a project that was somewhere in-between a DJ and a live electronic band.”
With the live electronica scene having more than exploded in the past few years, Lalli is seemingly cool, calm and confident when it comes to the growing number of competitors in their field. “Not so much,” is his concise and clear response when asked about concerns of being overshadowed by upstarts of the live electronic scene. With just a little further probing, a much fuller response arrives. “I think we have a unique sound so we are more just trying to develop our sound and do our thing the best we possibly can.”
“I think we stand out because of the sax and live drums but also because if the variety of electronic music we bring to our live show.” While many may look up at their setup with an air of baffled bewilderment, Lalli feels that it many senses their unusual lineup is what in fact defines them – far more so, it seems at least – than their alignment to any particular scene or body of sound. While so many other acts conform to a standard unit, the pair have focused their efforts on making their sound work with what they have as opposed to sourcing new contributors to their pool.
While there has clearly always been a concrete belief in their own abilities and ambitions, Lalli lets slip that they never really envisioned things reaching the point of acclaim that they have. “I honestly had no idea what to expect but am so grateful it’s taken off the way it has.” Though it may all have taken him by surprise, in a way the external pressure has pushed the project from one level to the next. At first Lalli and Salken were simply making music for their own pleasure, now they have to keep in mind the opinions of their rapidly growing fanbase. While many musicians refuse to acknowledge the role a fanbase plays on the creative process, Lalli is more than willing to offer the following, “That’s why we keep trying to work really hard and keep pushing and developing Big Gigantic.”
“Hard work and a little luck” is apparently all it takes to become a success on a global scale according to Lalli, but he seems to negate his own contribution from the mix. While he is more than capable of upselling Big Gigantic as a project, little mention has been given during our whole conversation to the essential ingredient – a meeting of musical minds. Lalli seems to shy away from any mention of his own abilities, which leads to my further trawling the interweb in the hope of finding some brief breakdown of what they key to the Big Gigantic partnership might be. With some luck, I finally stumble upon The Kollection’s transcription of their interview with both Lalli and Salken. Though it is even more apparent that neither partner is the type to blow his own trumpet, the following explanation of their stumbling into their sound offers an insight into what it might be that firstly makes them work, but also what really epitomises the appeal of their electric sound.
Salken explains, “We used to live together, back in the day, and we would do jazz and funk gigs around town. He got a computer at one point, like a Mac, not a laptop or anything. We got a computer and started making beats on that. I remember him coming to me like, ‘Check this out, I just made this’. And it seriously just progressed from that – he got better at producing, so that’s how it all kind of went.” Despite his earlier insistence on equality in all, Lalli was the instigator of the project, even if he chooses to forget it. Salken continues, “Then he asked me to play drums, with the project, and him play sax, so we have those elements of improvisation music with electronic music, blended together.”
Feeling like I have a little more insight into who Big Gigantic are, despite that insight having not arrived through my own interview process, I return to my notes and ponder the pair’s impending appearance at Shine On. With a clear throughline during our interview that Lalli considers Big Gigantic to be a live electronic arrangement, the questions begs to be asked – does he prefer the recording or performing process? His answer is once again clear and concise, he is a man who does not mince his words as he notes, “I love writing in the studio but there is nothing like performing in front of a HUGE crowd!”
Before turning my attention away from the recorded front, it seems important to find out what the pair have coming up. With nearly two years having already passed since their sophomore album, surely it is time that fans are rewarded with another record? The answer is one full of thanks and excitement. While he may relish being up on stage, Lalli is a man who has learned to love public response and he clearly can’t wait for his next installment. He reveals, “We have an album coming out soon called Nocturnal. It’s a heavy mix of a bunch of electronic styles into one cohesive ‘Big G’ sound. We are very very excited about this one!”
Clearly abuzz with elation at their latest creation, have their pair started to feel the need to constantly evolve and reinvent their sound so as to keep their audience on the edge of their seat awaiting their next move? As someone who has grown to love the external input, Lalli’s motivation is strangely introverted. He admits to feeling “not pressured but it’s in my interest to grow and develop our sound. I think it’s healthy to grow.”
With our time quickly drawing to a close, we realise there is little time to discuss their impending visit to these shores for Shine On. However, before he heads off, I get the promise of “high energy” from the Big Gigantic boys, with Lalli noting that they will be only ones to bring “sax and drums and some melodic and super heavy bass music” to the Shine On table.