Chicago Music Magazine president and editor-in-chief Shawn Kellner recently caught up with Jeremy from Big Gigantic to chat about their huge NYE show at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago.
Shawn Kellner, Chicago Music Magazine joining me on the phone today is Jeremy from Big Gigantic. How are you doing today man?
Jeremy (Big Gigantic): I’m doing pretty good. How are you doing today buddy?
Shawn (Chicago Music Magazine): I'm doing really good man. It's a beautiful day in Chicago.
BIG G: I like to hear that. We're excited to be back there soon.
CMM: You guys are going to be ringing in the new year with us over at the Aragon Ballroom which is one of the finest rooms in this great city of Chicago. Are you excited?
BIG G: Yeah we love that place. We played there before with STS9 a couple years ago.
CMM: What were your main influences for combining your unique sound of horns and electro?
BIG G: Dominic and I were both musicians before we got into the electronic scene. We’ve both played music since we were kids around Boulder [Colorado]. We were always fans of electronic music. We wanted to find a way to be able to play our live instruments which we love doing, and play electronic music - keeping it where we could still improvise a little bit with solo sections, builds and drops that we could kind of interact with, on top of just having hard hitting music. Stuff with heavy bass. Even some more melodic electronic stuff. Kinda blending all the stuff that we enjoy, into one thing/genre.
CMM: Do you feel that drugs have been putting a negative stigma on the people that tend to gravitate towards your music?
BIG G: Um, I don't know. Honestly, I don't feel there is any more or less usage of anything than there was. I grew up going to jam band festivals, and listening to Phish and the Dead. I grew up in the music scene. I don't feel that it is any more prevalent now than it was years ago. If anything, what's kinda cool about the scene right now is there is all these really young kids that are finding electronic music for the first time. They are really, really into the music. It's not like they have been around for years and are biased. As all of us get older we get use to seeing bands and get more and more judgmental, it's just kinda what happens. The more you see a band the more you feel it's your thing. You could be critical of it. The cool thing about the scene right now with all these young kids is that they are just very excited to be going to concerts, seeing music, and being a part of it. Experiencing it. It's created a really good vibe at the shows.
CMM: What message do you as Big Gigantic try to convey with your music?
BIG G: It's tough because we don't have any lyrics in the tunes. So it's not like we convey a message through that. We're all about just having fun while being respectful and nice to other people. Peace and love and music essentially. I feel like that is the vibe we hope comes off. We want everyone to have fun because we are having fun up on stage. When we see other people having fun it makes us more excited about what were doing. The whole experience is very reciprocal.
CMM: With jam bands that have lyrics a lot of times when the singer or other musicians are performing they are thinking about the content behind the lyrics. With the absence of lyrics in your music to interpret when performing, what things go through your head when your performing?
BIG G: It's crazy. I’m thinking more about the intention that I’m putting into what I’m playing. A lot of times the shows go by so quick I’m just like thinking about raging through the music. At the same time, I know this section is about to come up and I am thinking about how I can accentuate what's already going on in the music and make it even more powerful and more dramatic than it already is. When we're doing a build like that or when Dom's taking a solo, I’m listening to him and interacting with him just like if we were playing a jazz gig or a funk gig or anything else. The whole time I’m trying to just lay it down as hard as I can.
CMM: What artist or artists have influenced you the most to get you into your style of electronic music?
BIG G: Over the years it's been everything from Radiohead to STS9. Those guys brought us on board along time ago and really helped us out. We take influences from everywhere. We used to work with a lot with Alex Botwin of Paper Diamond. Dom and I would just make tracks together back in the day, learn from each other and we would talk about music and what we love about it. The stuff that Bassnectar is doing. We're always checking out everything that we can and just trying to be aware of what's out there. We like saying, "Oh that’s really cool, I like that tone that somebody is doing. How can I figure that out and put my own spin onto it? I like what this person did with their song." It's the same thing we did when we were in funk bands and jazz bands together we would be like, "I love how this Herbie Hancock tune ends. How can we write a song that has that vibe?" or you take that kind of melody idea and throw it into something.
CMM: What's your job include for you? What's it like traveling and meeting people all over the world? What's your most important promotional tool that you guys have to build up your fan base, engage them, and connect with them?
BIG G: It's amazing to be able to do this as our full time job. We love traveling. We love going to different cities, meeting new people, playing new venues. Every night is a different experience. It never is insane. There is always some new thing that is going to be thrown your way that you have to figure out or deal with. Going around the country and seeing how excited people get about what you're doing gets us even more excited about it too. We are like, “Wow, people really care as much as we do about this thing we work so hard on.” It's a great feeling. As far as marketing, Facebook and Twitter are both huge for us. Instagram is also a great way to market. Facebook is a great way to get what we need to say out through pictures. Dom and I are always on the BIG G Facebook and we also have our own Facebooks so we just try to stay as connected as possible with people.
CMM: That's awesome. There are so many bands that don't run their own social media. It’s so cool to see a group like yours that has seen so much growth and success be able to stay so connected to the people who helped you get to where you are and play an active role in your social media presence. The commitment to your fan base shows.
BIG G: We're all about it man. Without the fan base we're just alone in a room playing to ourselves. It’s fun, I’ve done it. I love it. But without the fans you don't have much. We work hard to stay as connected as possible to them.
CMM: You guys just collaborated with String Cheese Incident at Electric Forest Festival. Are there any plans for future collaborations with them?
BIG G: They asked Dom to sit in on a few tunes with them. We have known and have been good friends with the Cheese guys for years. We love them to death. As of now there are no future plans to make a tune or record or anything like that. We are always up for collaboration. It's one of those things that when everyone is kind of in the same place at the same time it's fun to just get together and play music because we can, since we have our instruments with us. The live experience is what it's all about for a lot of us. We just love to be able to do that with each other.
CMM: Lets talk a little bit about NYE this year. BIG G will be in Chicago ringing in the new year at the Aragon Ballroom with us. What kind of things are you guys planning?
BIG G: We're so pumped to be back in Chicago. Completely thrilled. Doing the repeat Chicago thing was our idea. The Riv was great, and we had so much fun we said we gotta do that again. We're really pumped to be at the Aragon. We're bringing in a whole new light setup that we're working on for next year. Just like we debuted our current setup in Chicago last year, we're going to do that at New Years again this year. Chicago will be the first to experience the experience of the new setup. We're bringing in a PA so that it sounds exactly like we want it to sound. We're just going to try and throw the best party that we can and ring in the New Year with you.
CMM: We're all looking forward to it too. We all really enjoyed your set at Lollapalooza this year. How was playing Lollapalooza like for you this year?
BIG G: Man, that was great. That whole weekend was awesome. We hung all weekend. Got to see so many bands and then we did the late night with Zedds Dead which was overwhelmingly crazy. People got down. Our set on Sunday was awesome. It's just the Chicago love that we get. It's great. We love everybody there. If you guys had better weather we might move there. (Laughs) I seriously love it there. At some point I need to figure out how I could like rent a room in someones house, just so I can, like, go there and hang when its nice out (Laughs).
CMM: Thanks Jeremy for taking time to talk to me today. Chicago loves you guys. Every time you come here we will be there. We're looking forward to NYE and ringing in the New Year with Big Gigantic in Chicago at The Aragon Ballroom.
BIG G: Thank You Shawn. We really appreciate it. We will be there very soon and will see you then.