Big Gigantic Funks it Up
We go backstage with the Colorado-based electronic band to talk party cruises, free music, and blow up...saxophones.

Fusing funktastic live instruments with bass-heavy beats, Big Gigantic has created a uniquely addictive style of music that leaves listeners’ hearts palpitating faster than the band’s drum rhythms. Hailing from Boulder, Colorado, Dominic Lalli and Jeremy Salken skyrocketed to success in the EDM scene in 2010 and have only improved on their sound since. While their glitchy-drum sound tickles the ear when aired via computer speakers, it’s their animated live performances that truly melt faces. 

Joonbug sat down with the DJ duo after their dubstep-crazed set at Bonnaroo and talked about reviving the saxophone, new collaborations and the uber-supportive Boulder music scene.

Jaime Sloane: Thanks so much for sitting down with me this afternoon, I know your Bonnaroo schedule has been crazy but I really appreciate you guys giving me a little bit of your time. Our readers are super excited to hear about what you guys have been up to and what your plans are for the future!

Big Gigantic: Absolutely, thanks for having us! 

Jaime Sloane: So how did it feel when Bonnaroo asked you to headline the first night of the festival? 

Jeremy Salken: That was a great feeling. We were just super psyched and thrilled to be on it. We’ve both been to Bonnaroos before and it’s always an amazing festival. This is like the premier festival of summertime. It’s the biggest. It always has a crazy lineup and we’re just really proud to be part of that.

Jaime Sloane: Before your set you guys tossed out a bunch of blowup saxophones and that was really nutty, so I just wanted to see whose idea that was. Do you guys like to do different crazy things at every show like you did Thursday night?

Dominic Lalli: Honestly we just thought about it and we were like “God, if the whole tent was full of saxophones it would be awesome.” Because people had been bringing their own out. We’ve been seeing four or five in the audience so we were like “Damn, wouldn’t it be crazy to do something special like that for Bonnaroo.” Originally what we wanted to do was get them in a balloon drop style where they all drop down but we couldn’t make that happen. We just wanted to do something special.

Jaime Sloane: Yeah it was great, really hyped up the crowd everyone was going wild. With the saxaphones, you don’t really hear that sound much anymore in modern music. I wanted to see how it feels to be part of the few artists who are trying to revitalize the saxaphone as an important instrument.

Dominic Lalli: It’s interesting because I don’t even think of it so much as totally different because I’ve been playing the saxophone for years and it’s just the thing that I play, just by chance or whatever. So you know, it’s an honor to be able to bring the horn and the saxophone into more of a mainstream sound and allow more people to hear it. I think a lot of people have never actually really heard a saxophone, you know what I’m saying? It’s an honor, I’m loving it.

Jaime Sloane: With your sound, which is obviously combining live instruments with beats, it’s pretty unique. I wanted to hear why you guys chose to be part of this sub-genre niche type of sound and how you guys ended up here.

Dominic Lalli: I think it just kind of happened. We’re just fans of music in general and of the EDM thing. And we just kind of wanted to do our own little twist on that. We enjoy going out and seeing DJs, and also going to see more live electronic bands, so we wanted to hit it somewhere in the middle of that. 

Jaime Sloane: Would guys call it funktronic? What would you call your sound? I’ve heard a bunch of different phrases being tossed around.

Dominic Lalli: I’d call it EDM because we don’t really play a particular style. We play some dubstep stuff but we play some hip-hop stuff and then some more dance music stuff. It’s pretty diverse so I like to just call it EDM.

Jaime Sloane: Exactly. Super diverse. Like we saw with your set on Thursday, which was really high-energy and you had all that dubstep and you used a lot of rap samples. But when I saw you guys at Bear Creek it was a lot more mellow, a lot more use of the drums, just a completely different tempo. Do you guys plan that out before you get to the concert or do you feed off the crowd? How do you decide what direction you’re going to go in with your set?

Jeremy Salken: We kind of play to what we’re feeling and what the crowd’s feeling. We keep our sets somewhat open so we can do that. If we’re in a certain mood and the crowd’s rowdy as shit, then we feel like we need to bring it that much harder and kind of ride the wave with everybody. 

Dominic Lalli: We’re flexible enough where we can do something like Bear Creek which is a little more family-style, a little more homestyle.

Jaime Sloane: You guys were probably one of the most electronic-geared performances there.

Dominic Lalli: Right so we’re flexible enough that we can kind of lean on one side, lean on the other. When we played Ultra it was all heavy shit. Just a heavier mix of stuff. I like that it’s not set. We can sit up there and just fucking me and him play our instruments and it would work out. At the end of the day, we can do everything from that, stripped down all the way to just us. 

Jaime Sloane: Tell me a little about your new collaboration with Conspirator and Underground.

Jeremy Salken: That just kind of came together. We’re all friends with the guys, with The Disco Biscuits guys, and the Conspirator guys, and we always wanted to play with them. Dom and I are fans of theirs, just know them through the music scene. And for New Years we were all in Chicago. I was talking to Machete from Conspirator and we were like “We should do a gig. We’re all here, let’s do it New Years Day, let’s get it going!” So we got the gig, we booked it, we talked about tunes and just kind of went for it. Like that night was the first night that we had ever played together for the most part.

Dominic Lalli: We didn’t even talk about it really. We were like, "Let’s just do it."

Jaime Sloane: Well clearly it’s working.

Jeremy Salken: Yeah, it’s awesome. And it’s just a fun thing that we kind of like to do and surprise people. It’s always fun to switch it up. Those guys a great musicians, the hang is like the best hang ever, and it’s like an extended family. 

Jaime Sloane: I know that you guys were booked for Holy Ship!! and Jam Cruise, so congrats!  

Dominic Lalli: Yeah thanks!

Jaime Sloane: But when I was looking at the details I realized that both are on the same boat and they’re back to back. So I wanted to hear your thoughts on spending seven days at sea, going from one cruise to another, because I think it’s a hysterical situation.

Dominic Lalli: We can handle it. We’re professional cruisers! No but really we’ve been on Jam Cruise a bunch of times. It’ll be a lot of boat and a lot of ocean but it’s going to be great. 

Jaime Sloane: I thought it was just a really funny coincidence.

Dominic Lalli: It is! It’s like, do we have to get off? I’d rather just stay in my room and chill. 

Jeremy Salken: That’ll be a good time to sleep, when the boat’s docked and nobody’s on it we can actually sleep for eight hours. Cause we usually don’t sleep on these things, at all. You go see music, you drink, and eat because there’s food all day.

Dominic Lalli: It’s like a professional party boat.

Jaime Sloane: So now you’re getting a double dose. 

Jeremy Salken: The best of the best. Back to back. I don’t know what’s going to happen but we know it’s going to be really rowdy. 

Jaime Sloane: When I interviewed Paper Diamond at Ultra, he talked a lot about the Boulder, Colorado music scene and how you guys are all really supportive of each other and give each other feedback. I wanted to hear your take on it and how it feels to come from such a strong music scene. 

Dominic Lalli: That’s definitely what’s going on. You have us, Paper Diamond, Pretty Lights, tons of artists and producers around town and everyone has that community vibe. Like Alex (of Paper Diamond) was just over the other day playing around with a bunch of new stuff and showing off new material to each other. It’s a great community and a great community of fans as well. We have some of the best fans ever. Those kids come out and rage any night of the week with us.  

Jaime Sloane: I know you guys are all about giving away your music for free to fans. Why is this important to you personally and do you think it’s paid off so far? 

Jeremy Salken: That was kind of the original concept of the group - to make the music and get it out there to as many people as we could in any way that we could, and focus on the live show being the experience. And as Dom’s production skills get better and better, the albums keep stepping up and sound better and bigger, but the main thing is still just getting the music out there to everybody. We have it for free on our website, we have it on iTunes because that’s how a lot of people get their music. We have it on Spotify; on Pandora. We just want it to be accessible to everyone at all times. And then come see us, cause that’s when we have the most fun.

Dominic Lalli: That’s when you really get to see us do our thing. But we just want to have our music everywhere. However you search for it, it’ll pop up.

Jaime Sloane: Looking forward, I wanted to see how excited you guys are about headlining at Red Rocks (Amphitheatre in Colorado)? 

Dominic Lalli: It’s gonna be huge! We’re calling it rowdy town. We have a huge lineup that we’re waiting to announce for a little bit. Our gig isn’t until September but it’s going to be our first sort of mini-festival that we’re throwing. We’re going to do it big, do it up right, make it the best Big G experience that anyone’s ever had for sure.  

Jaime Sloane: Awesome. Well thank you so much for your time and enjoy the rest of the festival.