An Interview with Jeremy Salken of Big Gigantic, playing Albany February 12th and Rochester February 17th

The first time I saw Big Gigantic, I was floored by the amount of energy exuding from the stage to the crowd. They have all the aspects of any amazing electronic show: the mind blowing light show, the high energy and the improv jams, but also the jazz stylings that you would only find in a classically trained saxophonist. Dominic Lalli (sax and production) and Jeremy Salken (drums) have pioneered their own genre of music fusing together electronic, bass-centered music with smooth jazz and acoustic drums.  Their sound is truly one of a kind and they have made their presence well known in the electronic scene. I had the pleasure of chatting on the phone with Jeremy just days before their show in Clifton Park at Upstate Concert Hall.

Jeremy Salken of Big Gigantic
Jeremy Salken of Big Gigantic on Jam Cruise 11 (photo by Chris De Cotis)

Jenni Wilson: Alright, we’ll start off with a little history behind Big G. When and how did you two meet?

Jeremy Salken: We met through the Boulder, Colorado music scene. We both were playing in funk and jazz bands, any gig we could get and we kind of met through that and ended up moving in together. Dom found a computer and started making some beats and it all kind of progressed from there.

JW: Who would you say are some of your biggest influences?

JS: Everything. Herbie Hancock, John Coltrane, all jazz music. Radiohead, a bunch of new stuff like Skrillex and Bassnectar. We get influences from everywhere. We are always looking to push ourselves. Dom’s always trying to push the way we make music and the angles its coming from.

JW: You have clearly forged your own path in the electronic music scene, but being that what you play is still so different from other acts, how would you go about defining your music  to someone who has no connection to the electronic music scene?

JS: It’s really hard to explain, honestly. It’s one of those things were still kind of trying to figure out. Its really not jazz and electronic. We call it electronic dance music or live electronic music. We take so many different styles from drum and bass, hip hop, dubstep, sometimes moombahton.

JW: What exactly inspired you to blend live sax and live drums with electronic?

JS: Dom has been playing sax for  a while he has his masters in jazz performance. I’ve been playing drums since I was a little kid, self-taught. Naturally we wanted to bring different instruments together and we wanted to find a way to fuse electronic beats. We wanted to be able to throw a party and keep everyone dancing but still get to play our instruments and improvise and build and drop.

Jeremy Salken of Big Gigantic
Jeremy Salken of Big Gigantic on Jam Cruise 11

JW: Your tour schedule looks jam packed. Is this busiest you guys have ever been?

JS: It’s pretty normal, we’ve stay relatively busy since we started so it feels very natural. We have more time coming up than we ever have. Things are kind of chillin out. We have a nine-week tour in the fall, so this five-week tour is  a short one compared to that.

JW: The last time I saw you guys was main stage at Camp Bisco and I know you guys ended up playing some of the top U.S. festivals last year. What festivals do you think you’ll be leaning towards this summer?

JS: We’re on Summercamp and Snowball in March, but we played so many last year this year will be more mellow and we try not to repeat festivals. A lot of festivals don’t like to repeat. We’re working on our new album and doing a big tour in the fall. We’re also working on a Red Rocks gig. There are also a couple of other festivals that I can’t really announce yet.

JW: What is your favorite part about playing a festival, and how does that compare to playing a headlining tour?

JS: It’s definitely different. We love playing festivals because Dom and I have been going to festivals before we were in this band. We’re huge fans of the festival vibe. It’s awesome playing in front of so many people with a huge crowd and massive energy. But we also love getting indoors and containing all of that energy and playing with a more intimate crowd.

JW: You guys have put out an album almost every year since 2009, is there any new material planned for 2013?

JS: We’re working on an album for the fall now hopefully before our tour. And hopefully we’ll have that and ya know, that’s been kind of the main focus.

JW: Will your show at the Upstate Concert Hall be your first trip to the Albany area, aside from Camp Bisco? What can we expect from you guys at this show?

JS: No we’ve been to Albany a bunch, probably our third show. We played The Big Up Festival, and we’ve also played in Rochester. We played a sports bar (Jillian’s) about a year and a half ago in Albany. We try and hit that area (Buffalo, Rochester, Albany)  because we love coming to the Northeast. It’s gonna be a party. I wouldn’t miss it if I were you guys. We have a new light rig that we dropped on New Years and we’re bringing that out. We’re playing a bunch of new music, Dom’s been working on some new stuff so it’s gonna be a non-stop party.

JW: Alright last question. There have been rumors floating around that you and Jennie Garth recently started dating. Is this true?

JS: True. I haven’t been asked that on an interview but I’ve been asked it more and more since Jam Cruise. Our story broke in the National Enquirer with a bunch of false information. It said I was 41, which I wouldn’t mind if it was true but it’s not. It was funny being in the National Enquirer because obviously they don’t have reputable news. They called every member of my family and Dom trying to get all of this information and obviously nobody gave them anything so they ended up making everything up.  They said we met at Coachella and have been dating for a really long time. That isn’t true. We didn’t meet at Coachella, we met in October so it’s impossible. It’s pretty nuts what kind of information they’ll print. Even with no information they will print whatever they want.

You can catch Big Gigantic at Upstate Concert Hall in Clifton Park on February 12th  and at Water Street Music Hall in Rochester on February 17th.

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