Interview: Big Gigantic Bringing 3D Experience and New Album ‘Free Your Mind’ to Berkeley’s Greek Theatre

Electronic funk duo Big Gigantic recently released their latest album “Free Your Mind” and will be touring in support of the new material, with a show scheduled for the Greek Theatre on May 2nd. Tickets are now on sale.

The Boulder-based act, consisting of saxophonist / producer Dominic Lalli and drummer Jeremy Salken, has new music to share, plus a live 3D experience. The scenic, outdoor vibes of the Greek Theatre will be perfect for this added visual element. To preview the show, we spoke Jeremy and Dominic to learn more about creating songs, their latest activities, and what they enjoy most about the Bay Area.

How did you two first conceive the idea of combining electronic and jazz music professionally?

Dominic: I think it goes back to our very beginnings. We were jamming, playing funk music, playing jazz music, and electronic music was starting to come to the forefront. We thought, man, we should just do all this stuff together. We literally just started doing it. We weren’t the first, but we were one of the first to kind of start doing that. It’s been a pretty sweet ride ever since. We’re just trying to think of new ways of being creative with that concept and see how we can take it to the next level.

Who are some music acts you’ve been listening to recently that have inspired you?

Jeremy: Dang. I still listen to old stuff like Steely Dan and Herbie Hancock. I like Thundercat a lot. He is a super creative dude.

Dominic: I don’t have anyone in particular. I just listen to a lot of stuff. Kind of electronic music, but I also listen to a lot of jazz, a good amount of classical music, a lot of electronic music, and a lot of hip-hop and rap music. Just all those things sort of influence me in different ways.

What’s been going on in your lives over the past three years that inspired Free Your Mind?

Dominic: We wanted to take another step in the direction of Brighter Future. We thought that Free Your Mind would be a great, enlightening subject matter to dive into because of some of the concepts that we addressed, including self-love with “You’re the One”, along with friendship, love, and things like that. Nothing in particular was happening in our lives but themes that we are always dealing with every day as people.

Will a portion of ticket sales from this tour continue to go to your philanthropic organization and how do you plan to use the proceeds?

Jeremy: Big Gigantic’s ticket foundation is still cranking away. We’re still collecting a dollar a ticket for ticketed shows. We’re working out what our project will be for after this tour. We’re not quite yet sure. We did just do a project down in New Orleans where essentially they have a mobile studio where they take all this gear around. They have computers, instruments, and all this stuff and they’ll take it around to schools and different groups where kids don’t get access to music programs. They teach kids, whether its production lessons on computer or music lessons. We help them expand their program. They have this new van they decked out to be more mobile than they were before because I think it was somebody’s car. They are called Upbeat Academy based out of New Orleans. We did a project with them from last year that carried over to this year. Hopefully, with ticket sales from this tour and Red Rocks, and the Greek, all the shows coming up we’ll be able to raise a good amount of money and do something cool for later this year or next year.

What are some of your essential personal items you carry with you on tour?

Jeremy: Toothbrush. Toothpaste. A lot of clothing.

Dominic: Weed.

Jeremy: Yeah, Dom has a ton of weed. There are more essentials for our green room I think. Stuff that we love to have on the bus, whether its drink or food rather than don’t forget to bring your bathing suit kind of thing. We always have coconut water and kombucha. Green juices. Things like that. Some natural wine. Tequila.

Dominic: Coffee.

Jeremy: I don’t drink coffee but everyone else blows through pounds and pounds of coffee a day. We’re trying to be more active on this tour. We’ve been talking about bringing out weights or bands to do a group workgroup every day. It’s really easy to stay up late. Eat a bunch of crap, sleep in, and then you’re exhausted and ready for the show. Try to incorporate more healthy activities. Working out. Things like that will be good for all of us.

What do you like most about visiting the San Francisco Bay Area?

Jeremy: Oh man, the food is so freaking good in SF and it’s just a beautiful city. I love all the different zones. All these micro cities and little towns like the Mission. All the different areas are really fun because it’s so different everywhere. You can experience all these different things in one. In a few hours, you can pop around to all these different places. I haven’t spent a lot of time in Berkeley. I’m excited to be there and check that out. I’ve been to the Greek before. It’s such a cool venue. It has that Red Rocks vibe with the naturally built-ish amphitheater with a lot of stone and rocks. We’re excited to play there.

Why did you decide to play at the Greek?

Jeremy: We haven’t played there yet. On the last tour, we played The Warfield. We’ve played the Fox a few times. We’ve done the Regency Ballroom. The Warfield was great. That obviously a historic place. I’m kind of a Deadhead. That was really cool to play there. The Fox is so beautiful. All the decorations and everything. But the Greek, we wanted to go outside and do something, and because our 3D wall is so big, we wanted to get it in the right venue and the right space. The Greek felt like the right place to go.

Dominic: I saw Phish there.

Jeremy: What? At the Greek? Wow, I didn’t know that. You bastard.

Dominic: I was really into Phish for like 3-4 years.

Jeremy: I’m still into Phish for the record.


Big Gigantic
Saturday, May 2nd, 7pm
at Greek Theatre on UC Berkeley Campus

Written by Carlos Olin Montalvo

Follow me @carlosolin