Madison is no stranger to big-name electronic shows, but Big Gigantic separate themselves from the pack with a unique blend of live instruments, sampling and synthey beats that’ll be pulsating from the Gilman Street stage at Freakfest this weekend.
Jeremy Salken, the drummer of the Big G duo, said in an interview with The Badger Herald he is very excited to return to Madison this year after the band’s show earlier this spring.
“We end up going to Madison probably a couple times a year, I guess,” he said. “There’s a great music scene there and people really love to come out to shows. It’s a perfect stop in the Midwest.”
Salken said he and Dominic Lalli, who plays saxophone for the duo, will be trying to get to Madison as soon as they can in the hope of catching fellow headliner Mac Miller’s set. He also promised a few surprises for the crowd.
“We’re super psyched,” he said. “We’re jumping on a flight to get there and rage with you guys as early as we can.” In regard to what the Madison crowd can expect, “We have some new songs that you guys haven’t heard yet,” he said. “I don’t want to give away all our tricks.”
Big Gigantic belong to a different breed of musicians. They take on the challenges and rewards that come with playing live instruments while their electronic beats and spot-on sampling give their music an added danceable, energetic spark – perfect for Halloween weekend.
Salken said the pairing of different musical styles came up organically, and both he and Lalli have been playing their instruments since they were kids. He said they started playing over beats when they later lived together.
“Dom got a computer, a used white MacBook from this guy, and started making beats on it,” he said. “He started getting better and better. We would play along with the beats.”
A jazzy saxophone and electronic influence sounds like an unlikely pairing – something that could very easily go wrong if not done with extreme care and skill. But Big G pull it off with ease. “It’s Going Down,” one of their most well known songs, features Lalli’s saxophone smoothly blending into the electronic beats. The duo’s “I Need a Dollar” remix doesn’t take away too much from the original bluesy song: Big G dip it in their indelible style.
The inspiration to sample a song can pop up randomly, Salken said, and the “I Need a Dollar” remix was a product of his manager just listening to it before he came into work everyday. Salken said he and Lalli take that experimental approach to writing their music and listen and work with as many different genres as possible.
“[We are influenced by] everything from Herbie Hancock from Radiohead to Bassnectar and Skrillex. We try to check out as many different kinds of music as we can. The more things you have influencing you, the bigger your palate is,” Salken said.
Their Saturday night set will be just as fluid as their influences and style, Salken said. While Big G usually take the stage with a notion of what will be played, Salken said the show’s plan can easily switch up and become a “choose your own adventure.”
But new material isn’t the only surprise Madison is in for when Big Gigantic take the stage Saturday night. Salken said their Halloween costumes are a secret, and while they have some ideas, airport security to Madison will throw a wrench into some options: You can’t bring a fake Grim Reaper scythe on a plane no matter how many times you tell a Transportation Security Administration agent agent it’s for a costume.
“It might make it a little tricky,” he said. “But either way we’re going to throw down.”
Big Gigantic will play the Gilman Stage of Freakfest at 11:45 p.m. Saturday. Freakfest admission is $12. Visit freakfestlive.com for more information.