If you can hear elements of jazzy funk, 2010s pop, rap and electronica, you’re probably listening to Big Gigantic.
Dominic Lalli (saxophone, producer) and Jeremy Salken (drums) tackle a range of genres in their music, and the result is an intriguing blend of colors and sounds that are perfect for an energetic, beat-drop-filled live show. Big Gigantic just released their newest LP, Brighter Future 2, a sequel to 2016’s Brighter Future, and are touring the U.S., including a stop at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino on Thursday, July 7.
During a recent phone interview with Dominic Lalli, he expressed excitement over the release of Brighter Future 2.
“This thing is finally out, and it’s been a long road to this being out and getting back playing again and stuff,” said Lalli.
Lalli is happy that the music career he’s used to is getting back to some degree of normal.
“In January and even early February, it was still really hard to see what it was going to look like,” Lalli said. “After two years of nothing, you’re kind of wondering what everything’s going to be like when we come back. We’ve been around for a while, too, so we were just wondering how it’s all going to go, because you’re so used to one thing for so, so long, but it’s been really great. All the response and feedback from our fans, and new fans, have been really great. … I couldn’t ask for anything more in terms of the way everything’s gone.”
As Lalli began writing during the shutdowns, he realized he felt like he needed to pick up some loose ends from the first Brighter Future.
“We put our album Free Your Mind out, and not but a month or so later, everything shut down, and we had to cancel our tour,” Lalli said. “I guess I just went with the flow and welcomed that there wasn’t really much to do at that point, so I got right on starting to write again. I don’t think I was necessarily planning, at that point, for it to be Brighter Future 2, but it was just the way everything panned out in terms of the timing and where we were at as human beings. I felt like somewhere last year, I thought that it was very important for us to put another one of these out and put it all together musically. The stuff I write is down the Brighter Future tunnel anyway, but I think putting some more meaning behind it really helped shape it into what it is. … I feel like the shapes of both albums are kind of similar. For example, on the very last song, I wanted to do another saxophone harmony like I did on the first Brighter Future. I feel like it was something that needed to happen again, so I just kind of went with it.”
The majority of Big Gigantic’s music is upbeat and positive.
“The (Brighter Future albums) are not conceptual, but in my mind, they tell a story,” Lalli said. “Musically, it’s my roots in hip hop and jazz and stuff being intertwined with electronic music, but it’s also a story of a person, and in a sense, it’s my story. I never had much growing up. I played a lot of sports in high school, and I feel like that really taught me that hard work is really the way to go. It doesn’t matter how talented you are; you’re never going to get anywhere without hard work. You’re tired; you’re hungry; but you’ve just gotta keep pushing through, and that’s a way to get to a brighter future and a higher conscience. It’s about being spiritual in a sense, pushing through in that way to sort of bypass some of the negative or tougher things that come through your life, and using those things as fuel to help you become a better person, or be better at your craft—things like loving your neighbor and doing good in the world, because if you do those things, good things will happen to you. … That’s sort of the story.”
With both Brighter Future albums having a featured artist on every track, I was curious how the duo got others on board with their vision.
“In most of these collabs, people are so receptive to these ideas,” Lalli said. “A lot of people, from Kota the Friend to Aloe Blacc, we’re having calls with them and talking to them about what I just talked to you about, and then going back, and they’re writing something that really hits home with it all and really brings it all together. It’s amazing, because I think a lot of people are on that wavelength and really feel those things.”
If their recent music is any indication, Big Gigantic’s upcoming live shows will be big parties.
“We’ll definitely be playing all the new music on tour, so that’s exciting,” said Lalli. “We’ll be playing all the stuff from Brighter Future 2 and a lot of stuff from Brighter Future, just to connect all that together. Visually, we really are able to add to the message with our content, which you know is a good, good way to accompany the music for sure. Also, because we play instruments and stuff—with me playing sax and Jimmy playing drums—it’s a really another level to being able to emotionally express these feelings. There’ll be a lot of that when we’re on tour, so it’s exciting to bring all those elements together into the show.”
I asked Lalli about the part of their show when he takes a break from the production to play his instrument live.
“I love improvising; it’s something I really love to do, and I feel honored to be able to do that,” Lalli said. “I went to jazz school, and I got my master’s degree in jazz performance. I love improvising, and I get to do it in a lot of different situations. … When I’m writing, I’m not like, ‘Oh, I need to put a sax solo,’ but the cool thing is that in the live show, for one of the songs, ‘Losing My Mind,’ there’s this cool little synth melody that I have at the end of the second drop of that song. For the live show, I just took that out, and I’m just going to play sax over that part. I can do different things like that, where I can give myself places to shine, and during the show, there’ll be at least one place where I’m just playing all by myself, and I can really just open up and get creative every night and do something different.”
Big Gigantic will perform at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, July 7, at the Grand Theatre at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino, 2500 E. Second St., in Reno. Tickets are $29.50 to $64.50. For tickets or more information, call 775-789-2000, or visit www.grandsierraresort.com.