Interview with Dom: Big Gigantic Drops New Album ‘Nocturnal’—Available for Free Download.
Big Gigantic—the electronic duo comprised of Dominic Lalli [Producer/Saxophone] and Jeremy Salken [Drums]—release their third album ‘Nocturnal’ today. You can snag yourself a copy, via FREE DOWNLOAD, HERE. Sensible Reason’s Meghan LeClair sat down with Dom to discuss the album, their New Years performances and what’s in store for Big G in 2012.
Happy New Year, and welcome back to Colorado!
Yeah, it’s good to be back!
Big Gigantic performed in front of a sold out crowd at The Riviera Theatre, in Chicago, for New Year’s Eve. How was that experience for you?
It was probably the best experience of my life, or pretty close to it. It was our biggest show, as far as ticket sales. And it was our first New Years show on our own, so we had to do all the preparations and make it special. It was definitely our biggest in terms of ‘bang’…we had all of our new production and played a bunch of new music. The whole experience was just incredible. Doing the count down with everyone there, you feel like you’re holding everyone up. It was awesome. And then we did New Year’s Day with the guys from Conspirator, and that was really great, too. So we had two sold out shows, and it was fucking amazing.
Speaking of your new production, what went into it and can you tell me a little bit more about it?
Well, a lot more than I even know! A lot of behind the scenes that I didn’t have to be right there dealing with. Essentially we drew it on a napkin in the car. We had the vision of it then took it to Brown Note Productions, and Brown Note manifested it. It definitely took a bunch of people, a bunch of minds, a bunch of hands, but I think we have something that’s pretty different. We’re in the middle of these hive-type things, and we have all this video content that goes with our music. So we go between the lights and the video…it’s just a whole new level of production.
2011 was a huge year for Big G…multiple national tours, and killer set times at many major festivals. How do you plan to out do yourselves in 2012?
More of the same! First off, in terms of our production, we’re taking that thing out everywhere this year. And it’s kind of a similar thing that we did with the boxes that we had last year. It’s our new production for the year, so we’re going to bring it out, and it will be at a bunch of festivals, as well. That’s automatically going to make everything look bigger. And we have a new album, so we just have a bunch more material now, too. Which is cool, so we can now mix some stuff up; play some stuff from the new album, play some older stuff. And then we’re playing bigger festivals this year, some other ones that we aren’t announced on yet. We’re going to get some great time slots and bring our production with us to the festivals. So we’re going to have a whole ‘look’ this year, which is going to be cool. And we’re going to get to keep developing it as the year goes on, making it tighter and looking better.
Your new album, ‘Nocturnal’, drops today. In five words, can you describe the sound of it for our readers?
Five words…wow. I’m not allowed to think before noon! Bass, drums, sax, melody and emotions. How ‘bout that…I did it!
I know you’ve been working on this album for a long time. What were some of the highlights of the development process for you?
I learned a ton of stuff for this one. It was hard because I was on the road so much. Usually bands say, “Now I’m going to go to, wherever, and you’re not going to see me for a month because I’m going to be working on this album and finish it. Then I’m going to mix it later.” So this was like, “Well, you’re on tour all year…so ‘good luck!’” So, I was just constantly working on it. A couple of the tunes I wrote around this time last year, and then everything else just kind of happened throughout the year, and then a few of the songs I wrote right at the end. Like, I literally had two weeks left and I thought, “I need this song to fill it out, and I need this kind of song to fill it out.” I think I just learned so much in terms of how to mix, and how to make the bass sound better, and how to make the drums hit harder; so I learned a lot of that production stuff this time. Sonically, I feel like it sounds more like I hear it in my head, so that’s cool. I like that. I think it’s, in general, more defined in terms of our sound: the Big Gigantic sound. If you went to see us live—we play some of our shit, some of other people’s shit, we play some dubstep, we play some electro, we play some hip hop—and I wanted to put that feeling into the album. It’s not like there’s remixes on there, but it feels like all the stuff you’re getting at our live show, which is a lot of different styles of electronic music rolled into one thing. I think it represents us more like how we are and how we’ve been playing, than I think anything else.
A lot of musicians are making their music available for free download these days. What is your reasoning behind such a move for ‘A Place Behind the Moon’, and now ‘Nocturnal’?
We’ve done it for every single release, sort of on the heels of Radiohead when they first did it. Which led to, I think, Derek (Vincent Smith, of Pretty Lights) wanting to start trying it out. And it just worked for us. You know, people aren’t really buying music. I mean, everyone’s getting their music however they get it, and it’s either they’re going to get it on iTunes, or Amazon, or a blog or whatever. So my main thing is like, “Let’s just get it everywhere.” I mean, I buy all my music on iTunes…the first thing I do when I go to iTunes, I search for the artist, and if it’s there, then ‘boom,’ I buy it, because I can afford it. But I’ve been on the other side of the coin where I can’t afford it, so that’s fine. I just want people to have it. However you need to get it. We’re just going with what’s worked. I don’t think there’s really any need to change anything, at this point. I think we just need to keep expanding where it’s at…like getting it on this blog. Just getting it to as many places as we can.
You’ll be kicking off the upcoming ‘Nocturnal Tour’ with a four-night run in Colorado. Are there any tricks up your sleeve for the home-state crowd?
Oh yeah, absolutely. Always. You know, since it’s the hometown thing, and everyone’s been along for the whole ride…so we’re going to try to make it special. We normally only play a fair amount of our music, because you can only fit so much in—so I’m re-working old stuff to make it fit in better with our sound, now. I’m working on new remixes, too. We’re breaking out everything. And I’m going to try to do different music every night; I don’t want to play the same show every night. We want to make it so that people will want to come a few nights, and see what’s going down.
You began playing music at a very young age, learning the saxophone in a more traditional setting. Who or what has been your biggest influence leading up to your entering the realm of electronic music?
Well, before entering electronic music there were a lot of people. The whole jazz thing in general—which spans saxophone players, piano players, and drummers—was definitely my focus for a long time. A lot of saxophone players, a lot of writers. That’s the one thing that got me really into electronic music: the writing factor. I love to write music. I did it with jazz…I have a whole album that I never even put out, of all the jazz stuff that I did that I’m sitting on. I just love to write, so this kind of thing just transferred so easily, like, “Oh, I can just sit here and write all day and I can know what it’s going to sound like, right away.” So, I have definitely been influenced by a lot of jazz composers, like Herbie Hancock, was always big. And saxophone players like John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter, another great writer. Also, drummers…lots of drummers. My dad and my grandfather were drummers, so I love drummers. They’re my favorite.
What is your favorite aspect of the live performance?
Just getting to play, and the energy that’s tossed around between the audience and us. Playing live. There’s nothing like playing and hearing it all live…getting to play the horn, and with Jeremy. Interacting, and seeing where we can take it…there’s nothing like that.
What advice do you have to offer young musicians–instrumentalists, producers, DJ’s or otherwise–that are hoping to break into the music industry?
I think the best thing I could recommend is, obviously work super hard, but be very consistent. Be consistent in your work, and in your work ethic. If I was teaching saxophone—and I’ve taught quite a bit of saxophone in my day—I would advise, “You know, you’ve got to practice 30 hours this week. Don’t practice 10 one day, and then 10 another. You need to practice X amount, everyday. Make it consistent, and routine.” So that’s what I would say, just work at it. Chop away, a little bit everyday.