Colorado EDM duo, Big Gigantic are gearing up for the third annual Rowdytown celebration. This time, the guys of Big G have two nights of Red Rocks magic to showcase their genre-spanning electronic sounds as well as live band workings and some special surprises. After releasing a music video with the cheeky dudes of Cherub in Mexico, hitting the festival circuit all summer and headlining their own tour, it seems Big Gigantic is doing it all without even breaking a sweat. I caught up with Dominic Lalli, sax extraordinaire and the other half Big Gigantic in addition to drummer, Jeremy Salken, to chat about a progressive sound, Rowdytown III surprises and giving back to the community they love so much . Dom is all excitement when he talks about the Colorado music community and the support they’ve given to Big Gigantic. And it’s refreshing to hear the passion in an artist’s voice when they talk about their craft and notes, melodies and players who make music so beautiful.
303 Magazine: This has been a big year for you guys, you released The Night is Young, and that album really caught my attention because it’s really different than anything you guys have ever done. What accounts for the progression in sounds and genres from your old stuff vs the newer releases?
Dominic Lalli (Big Gigantic): You know we’re always trying to grown and branch out as musicians and as a band. And a song like “The Night is Young” [featuring Cherub] was definitely something we’ve never done. It’s more of a housey tune and something with vocalists, we always wanted to do something like that. But basically we wanted to branch out, get better and try new things that interested us.
I feel like on any night of the week, you can be found at places all over Denver and Boulder playing alongside other acts and bands, do they personally ask you to play every time?
Haha! Oh jeez I would never show up and say, ‘Hey I’m here with my sax and ready to play!’ at someone else’s show. That’s probably what people think though. I mean, I don’t know people are always just asking me to play and I love playing alongside different acts and people I came up around listening to.
So it’s obviously hard for you to say no, right?
Yeah. [laughs] It’s cool though. When someone asks me to come play at Red Rocks that night. I’m like, of course I’ll come play at Red Rocks, you know what I mean? It’s like that for Cervantes too—I love Cervantes. I came up going there almost every night. So when people tell me they’re playing they usually just say, ‘come down and bring your horn.’ But yeah, I’m always about it. I love it.
That’s awesome. Your fans love randomly seeing you places, so it’s good you don’t like to say no. What do you think is so strong about Colorado’s music scene, you’ve got a core group of fans that worship producers like Big G, Pretty Lights, GRiZ, Paper Diamond etc. Why do you think this is such a welcoming market for electronic music?
Man, that’s good. That could be the million dollar question, really. I mean, I don’t know why, but it’s a fact. And it’s been a fact ever since I’ve lived here. Whether it’s the Motet or Pretty Lights. You know, Derek was really the guy who like pioneered that shit and really broke through. We were all going to house parties and seeing him play and just like “Whoa.” So we were behind Derek, you know he blew up then we were there a year or so after him and we just had a ton of support here, which extended out to everywhere. I think a lot of it is the fans and the support here for any kind of live music is insane. The younger kids’ support for producers in the electronic scene is just huge.
People have really been looking to Colorado to see what’s going on [in the music scene], so it’s pretty fantastic. The excitement for the music and the willingness to come out literally any night of the week to see it.
You were classically trained growing up, what made you want to mesh that with producing?
Honestly it’s probably because I love writing music. When I was studying jazz I have a whole jazz album I’ve recorded that I’ve just never put out, for one reason or another.
We want to hear it! You should put it out!
[laughs] It’s like Miles style—straight jazz. And it was recorded right when all the Big G stuff was happening so everything was hectic and moving so quickly that I just never had the chance. But who knows, maybe I will. But basically, I just really loved writing music. Then I got my computer and realized I could write on that rather than a piano, which is what I was doing before. It was cool to get into producing and into hip-hop then into electronic; it was really a natural path for me. And I’m obviously really happy that it worked out the way it did!
So are we! Rowdytown is a huge event for you guys, it’s basically your hometown festival of sorts, and how are you going to make this one special?
Oh man, well, there are a lot of things I can’t tell you. But there’s going to be a lot of cool stuff. We’re doing the projection mapping again, which is always cool. And you know now we have two nights to do everything and play a bunch of older stuff. I’ve been going in and tweaking a lot of that stuff and then you know we’re bringing the Motet out and doing a little live band stuff with us each night. We’re just expanding on it and we’re going to keep on expanding on it to make it more special every year. This is definitely going to be the best one yet. So if you’ve seen Rowdytown you should come back and if you haven’t seen Rowdytown you should definitely make it out to Red Rocks!
I caught your set at Coachella and obviously noticed you incorportated a local high school marching band into your show.
Yeah, it was amazing!
I’m just speculating that we may see this at Rowdytown, but either way, you don’t have to confirm or deny, I just think that’s rad. (And am hopeful)
[laughs] Yeah, I’m just gonna keep my mouth shut.
I know you guys are pretty involved in your lighting set up and what not, when did you look at the rocks and say, ‘Hey I bet we could project some pretty sweet graphics and trippy shit on there’?
Actually, this company approached us with the idea but I guess they hadn’t been able to find someone who wanted to participate. So we thought it would be perfect to build on and a perfect way to just kick the whole thing off. So we jumped at the opportunity and we’ve been working with them and they do a great job. Last year they were messing with all of this 3-D stuff last year and it’s going to be even more cool this year.
I really loved the grumpy cat one.
Yeah! I forgot about that! So awesome.
I saw you have a new studio, what’s your favorite part about it?
Man! It’s all my favorite part. I’ve only been in there for about a week, but I’m ready to make the best music ive ever made in there.
Sick! With winter coming up, do you and Jeremy ski or snowboard? Or is winter more of a music-making time for Big G?
You know, pretty much music making. We’ve skied and snowboarded our fair share, but we don’t really get out very often. But you never know!
I caught your performance at the Bonnaroo superjam, where you got to play with Skrillex. Do you plan on more collabs with him?
We don’t have anything official. I saw Sonny for a minute last weekend and we’ve got dates opening up for him in the middle of our tour. But it was so cool to work with him. Hopefully we can start making a tune in that week we’re on tour with him, that would be sick!
That superjam was phenomenal.
That was honestly one of the coolest things we’ve done. I’m like still kind of on a high from that. It’s still like taking me through and making me want to do more live band shit like at Red Rocks. Because, you know, I saw the way Sonny put it all together and I was like, ‘God, that’s so sick!’
The live band stuff is so cool. It’s really a game-changer for fans everywhere because there are people who might not be as into the EDM scene, but you throw a live band in there and suddenly it’s like there’s something for everyone.
Yeah exactly, it’s like, I love so many different kinds of music. From classical music to like straight house, rage DJs–if they’re good at what they’re doing. I think we’re a good band for it and we really wanted make it an experience where you can see all of these things in one night. And that’s really like what we did with Sonny. We did his shit, then we did like fucking “Africa” by Toto. And that’s what I’m excited for with Rowdytown. That’s what it’s going to be about.
You can do anything with a live band. Anything!
You guys do a lot of philanthropic work, it seems. During the floods, you held an extra show to donate money and more recently held a massive canned good drive at your no service fee day in boulder and teamed up with conscious alliance to donate proceeds from poster sales to hunger relief and youth empowerment efforts. And not many artists are so involved with their community’s philanthropic efforts, why is it so important to you guys to give back?
Well, I think it’s just when you come from nothing, you want to give back. You’ve seen that people need help and when an artist grounded they realize they should be the person to give back. When we moved here, we were going to String Cheese shows and those guys are like the epitome of giving back. That resonates with us and we’re always trying to do anything we can to give back. We’re the luckiest people ever, so why not, right?
And it’s awesome to get your fans involved, because it’s easy in EDM to keep it very sterile and one big party, but to have your fans join in on giving back to the community is really cool.
Yeah, we actually do this thing called the Little G program and they’re like street team kids, who go to your shows and help out in the crowd. They’re responsible people who help us out and make the vibe just better, you know? And one of the processes is they do a project in their community and we call it “A Big Gigantic Difference.” And they really like doing it. If you want to feel good, there’s nothing like making someone else feel good. That’s the trick to feeling good. So we’re just all about it, the good vibes and helping people out.
Respect! You’ve got a pretty core group of fans, that you call family. What your biggest piece of advice for them as people, in music, and in life?
Hmm, this is a hard question. When we started Big G, I wanted everyone from Jeremy to our fans, to our sound guys and crew, to just respect people, work hard and put out good vibes. And I want that to be what we’re all about, from the music to the fans. I want everyone to be themselves and do their thing, but our fans have already been doing it. A Big Gigantic Family, they did it themselves. They were already there and created that whole thing, so I don’t know what to tell them because they’ve already done such great things. I honestly just want to tell them it’s an honor to have them as fans because they’ve built this community. So I guess just tell them thank you.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever gotten from a fan?
Probably like a nice note. I got a note from a girl after a show. She lost her voice and just handed me this note and then I read it later and it said something like “I lost my voice, but that was amazing!” and I thought that was really sweet for her to go out of her way.
Finally, when I asked via social media for fan questions this is what I got: “EEEEEEK TELL DOM I LOVE HIM” so there’s that. And “would you like to come to a slumber party with us?”
[Laughs] I retweeted you earlier! I would be down for a slumber party! Sounds good to me.
Thanks so much for chatting, I’m really excited.
Thank you! I cannot wait, it’s going to be awesome.