Big Gigantic, the dynamic electronic duo from Boulder, Colo., is kicking off their spring tour this week with a stop at Madison’s Orpheum Theater Thursday night. The group just released their latest album Tuesday, The Night is Young, which is available for free download on their website. I got the chance to talk with saxophonist/producer Dominic Lalli about the new album, life on the road and memorable times in Madison.
BH: I gave a listen to the album, I loved it. It was bangin’. How long have you guys been working on The Night is Young?
DL: Kind of on and off for the last year and a half, I would say. We’re so busy on tour, touring most of the year so it kind of gets broken up a bit.
BH: What artists, if any, have influenced your latest work?
DL: Well, a lot of artists really, like people who surround our scene to people who we meet along the way. It’s really been a mix of all kinds of different music, because there’s such a wide array of tracks and sounds out there and different soundscapes that we and other artists are presenting.
BH: I read you have a Master’s degree in jazz. How would you say that’s influenced the way you make music?
DL: It’s more so taught me how to love all different kinds of music and find different things in music, so I’ve embraced it. You study a lot of music, like classical and jazz, so it’s more of a window into different genres and different types of music altogether.
BH: You collaborated on a song with Cherub, “The Night is Young.” What was it like working with those guys?
DL: It was awesome. I’ve worked with those guys before. They’re good homies. I’ve played saxophone on a few of their tracks, but we’ve never been able to have them sing on some of our stuff. I wrote that tune out on the road and it had this different form about it. I thought, “man, we need vocals.” So I sent them the track, they sang and recorded over it, and they sent it back along with those lyrics. It was just awesome.
BH: You’re making The Night is Young available for free download, just like you did with your last album Nocturnal, which was a huge hit—almost a million downloads to date. Why did you decide to make your music free?
DL: We always offer it for free from our website, and we also have it on iTunes. We just offer it up in any and every way. The most important thing is we just want people to have it. And we understand people just get their music differently. We encourage people to get the music how they want and come see us play live. Derek (of Pretty Lights) started that trend and that was on the heels of Radiohead, who kind of did that too. Music is just changing so much in how it’s being distributed these days.
BH: There are definitely some Big G fans out there that prefer your first few albums over your more recent womp and dubstep-heavy ones. What do you have to say to those people who challenge the direction you’re headed?
DL: One thing to note is first of all, our very first album doesn’t have any saxophone on it. None at all. The second album started introducing it, and we’ve developed it from there and kept growing. In my mind, a lot of the stuff I’m doing is very similar. You have to look a bit harder to find the similarities. It’s the same stuff to me, just presented differently, like in terms of melodies and chords and shape of the song.
I don’t want to make something that I’ve already done. We’d all still be playing classical music if we didn’t move forward, right? When something good happens in music, something that will move it forward, a lot of people don’t like it. But the kids like it and it moves forward.
When the Beastie Boys came out people were like, “What is this shit?” But then it became the band for a whole generation of people. So if people are talking about anything that you’re doing, really, positive or negative, you’re probably doing something right. If I made all my music the same as my old music, people would say, “You don’t make anything new.” So either way there’s gonna be critics. There’s a lot of different ways to go with it, but I go with my gut and my heart and I make music I like.
BH: Are you looking forward to any cities in particular on your tour?
DL: We’re really excited to playing in Madison. We love playing at the Orpheum. We’re gonna get out there the first week all over the Midwest, like Madison, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Detroit. We have a pretty killer first week at all the best spots.
BH: You guys have been to Madison a few times now. You played Freakfest last year for a massive crowd that I would say gained you a lot of fans that hadn’t previously heard of you. What can you tell me about that show?
DL: That was freaking crazy. It was freezing but it was just packed. Everyone was moving to the left and to the right in the heart of the crowd, just a big mass of people, all wearing costumes and everyone was wasted. It went off. There was this cool picture of me and Jeremy just totally bundled up in all our winter gear during our set with the crowd behind us. That summed the night up well.
BH: I’ve seen Big G play several shows and you always have pretty elaborate stage set ups. What’s the tour production like this time around?
DL: We’re bringing a version of our last setup. We basically have these six huge curved panels with crazy LED content with four little side LED panels. If you took a full TV screen and broke it up into six chunks, it’s kind of like that. And we’re stuck in the middle of it. It’s massive.
BH: You obviously tour a lot. What do you and Jeremy do to keep yourselves busy on the road?
DL: It’s interesting, you’d think we have tons of time, but between meet-and-greets and interviews, we kinda just keep busy doing our thing. We might go find some nice food to eat, maybe hang out with friends, do some after-party raging, things like that, but we stay busy most of the time.
BH: Big Gigantic has played countless festivals over the years. In April you’ll be playing at Coachella for the first time. What draws you to the festival gigs?
DL: Jeremy and I been going to festivals forever, and they’ve always just kinda been one of the highlights of our lives. Getting to play these things is so exciting for us, and it’s great because you get to play in front of a ton of people and you gain a ton of new fans. Coachella is the festival of festivals so it’s quite an honor to be at that thing. It’s gonna be sick.
Tickets for Big Gigantic’s Thursday show at the Orpheum can be purchased here, or you can enter to win free tickets from The Badger Herald below:
— The Badger Herald (@BadgerHerald) February 11, 2014