Live instruments, absolutely massive beats and a mind-altering light show — that’s the holy trinity of Colorado duo Big Gigantic’s live shows. Saxophonist/producer Dominic Lalli and drummer Jeremy Salken had extensive experience performing improvisational jazz, funk and jam before forming Big Gigantic in 2008. They’ve been sought out as collaborators — both onstage and on record — and played high-profile slots at every major festival in the country, including Electric Forest, Lollapalooza and their own annual event, Rowdytown, which returns to the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado this fall. And this month, they’re coming back to Kalamazoo to headline the fourth annual Audiotree Music Festival.
You both grew up playing in your high school’s band. Do you hope that the path you’ve made is something that inspires kids to pick up instruments now?
Lalli: Yeah, it’s extremely important, especially now in 2016. When I was in school, and I’m not trying to date myself, but it was like people were in band everywhere. Now it’s like weird. So much [music] funding has been cut from schools and kids just don’t have the same welcoming feeling towards it like back in the day. And so for us to come [onstage] like we did at Coachella [in 2014], and we did here in Colorado, and have a high school marching band out there with us — that lets kids see what can actually happen if you stick with it and you have a unique idea and just work hard.
|Big Gigantic (headlining Audiotree Music Festival)
Arcadia Creek Festival Place, 145 E. Water St., Kalamazoo
Aug. 20, 2 p.m.
$32.50 advance, $45 door, $85 VIP
Do you feel like you pushed the initial idea of bringing live instruments into the EDM scene?
Lalli: For sure. Absolutely. People were looking at us like we were a little crazy when we first started, but we just stuck to it and kept trying to develop it further. But like Jeremy said, it’s nice to have it all come full circle now and we can decide to do our thing with it.
How has the onstage connection between the two of you changed over the years?
Salken: We come from a performance background. We both grew up playing instruments and playing in bands, especially in the jazz and funk scenes and things like that. So once we lived together, Dom got a computer and just started making beats. We would take everything that we had learned from playing with other people and bring it to the DJ world. It’s cool how it’s kind of circled back. Like, that [live instruments are] now more celebrated throughout the scene. There was a minute where there were almost too many kids who were like, ‘Is that a saxophone?’
You’ve had a new album in the works for a few years — since the release of the fifth LP The Night Is Young in 2014. What can you tell us about where that’s at right now?
Lalli: I just feel like it’s worlds beyond anything else we’ve ever put out. It’s down the same lane for sure, but it’s just so much more mature. This album, basically every track has a featured singer or rapper or something. So yeah, there’s all kinds of music, but it’s also pretty current, pretty fresh, and pretty Big G sounding.