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What’s in your bag, Big Gigantic?

Reeds and drumsticks

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Photo by Matthew Reeves for The Verge

What’s in your bag? is a recurring feature where we ask people to tell us a bit more about their everyday gadgets by opening their bags and hearts to us. This week, we’re featuring instrumental electronic, hip-hop, and jazz duo Big Gigantic.

It’s an unusually humid day in Chicago when The Verge meets saxophonist / producer Dom Lalli and drummer Jeremy Salken, otherwise known as Big Gigantic. This would normally be a boring detail, but we’re backstage at a festival, the pair is about to go onstage, and this weather means Dom is being extra cautious about his saxophone’s reed. The reed is a small strip of wood attached to the sax’s mouthpiece, and, like all wooden things, it absorbs moisture. So if you’re constantly touring, hopping from plane to plane and climate to climate, it can be a touchy thing. “It’s the worst part about playing saxophone,” Dom laughs as he inspects a fresh pack of reeds. Jeremy, meanwhile, appears to be in his own world, intently drumming on a nearby table at a brisk pace using practice sticks topped with rubber.

The Colorado-based duo is known for genre-less hits that blend funk, hip-hop, jazz, and various types of electronic music into woozy, psychedelic swirls of sound. Their large back catalog includes collaborations with names like Logic, Rozes, and Waka Flocka Flame. Live, this translates into a massive audio-sensory experience that blends their tracks along with covers while Jeremy helms drums and Dom is on sax. Big Gigantic travels the world performing this electronic / live hybrid, and, on occasion, they ramp things up even further with their annual “Rowdytown” show. Last year’s brought a 3D experience to Los Angeles with graphics that included everything from giant floating astronauts to an animated Cardi B head.

This week, they’ve released a new single called “You’re The One,” featuring singer Nevve. It’s a beautiful, chord-forward song about self-love and finding happiness that crests into an explosion of horn melodies. Along with the single, Big Gigantic also announced that their Rowdytown show is coming to New York for the first time ever on August 23rd at The Brooklyn Mirage — with the immersive 3D setup.

It’s fair to say there’s a lot on the table for Big Gigantic, figuratively and literally, as we’ve made them dump out their things for a look-see. Along with those reeds and drumsticks, there’s a good amount of cabling and even more THC-related products. Get on their groove, below.

Photo by Matthew Reeves for The Verge

Why do you have a Tumi bag?

Dom: Because my wife’s the best! She was like, “happy birthday,” and I was like, “fuck yes!” She gets me.

I hear your wife is responsible for a good portion of your travel items.

Jeremy: Happy wife, happy life!

Any story behind this water bottle?

Jeremy: That’s a Big Gigantic water bottle we gave out at Red Rocks the other year. I drink a lot of water. Got to stay hydrated. I’m also big on having a water bottle pocket on my backpack. I literally buy bags based on that. Some people don’t care, but I’m big on that. It’s a deal-breaker.

Who do the glasses belong to?

Jeremy: They’re both mine. I have two sets of glasses because I always break or lose them on tour or at festivals. I always bring a second pair so I’m not blind.

You don’t have contacts?

Jeremy: No, I can’t do contacts. They dry my eyes out.

Photo by Matthew Reeves for The Verge

Um, what’s this little canister?

Jeremy: The iRoller! I found it at a random gas station in Colorado. It flips open and has a sticky surface that cleans your laptop or your phone screen. It’s amazing. It’s better than a cloth.

And here come the cables.

Dom: Those are my cables and my Apple Watch charger.

Do you text and take calls on your Watch often?

Dom: Yeah. Yeah, I do.

Jeremy: You do? You’ll be like, “Hey, what’s up, dude?” [Holds wrist up to face]

Dom: I use it when I go to the gym. I like that I don’t have to take anything else. I’ll use the automated responses if someone texts me. I’ll write out responses on the Watch, too. It works really well! And it has Apple Pay and works with my Air Pods, so I don’t need the phone.

Jeremy: Can you check into the gym with it, or do you have a gym card?

Dom: Yep, I can check into the gym with my Watch.

Jeremy: Wow. I have to have my phone. I got a Tesla, and your phone is the key. There is an actual key, like a fob, but to use that, you have to touch it to the car, and it’s annoying. So I never take the key out. It’s always in my wallet. But using my phone isn’t always reliable for the Tesla because it uses Bluetooth. Sometimes it doesn’t connect.

What about phones? Who has what?

Dom: My phone is the iPhone 7 Plus.

Jeremy: I have the X.

Why did you not upgrade, Dom?

Dom: I don’t know. I hate my phone.

Why?

Dom: Let me clarify. The phone is fine. It’s that, in general, everything about the phone takes me to a weird place. I’m old-school. I like to be in the moment with people. I like paying attention. So I haven’t upgraded my phone because I don’t care enough about it.

And what in-ears do each of you have?

Jeremy: My in-ears are by Sensaphonics. These in-ears are great for playing drums because they have little baby microphones on the outside of them that I can control from a pack. So I can control the volume of ambient noise coming in and actually hear what’s going on around me. I can mix my environment with what is in my ears. It’s super helpful for drums, and a lot of vocalists use them. The bummer is that I have to wear the pack.

Dom: My in-ears are by 64 Audio. It’s a newer brand. I got them because my monitor tech recommended them to me. I respect a tech’s opinion.

I see a vape pen here.

Jeremy: This is a PAX oil vape pen. It’s CBD and THC. The ratio is 3 to 1 so it doesn’t get you too high, which is nice because when I get too high, I get anxiety and it sucks. So that’s the main reason I use this. The strain I have in here is by a company called Mary’s Medicinals out of Colorado.

Photo by Matthew Reeves for The Verge

And, of course, there are drumsticks!

Jeremy: Those are the Vic Firth Corpsmaster drumsticks. They’re for practicing, so they’re really thick and really heavy so it helps build endurance. And they have a bouncy rubber tip.

I don’t play drums. Why do you need a practice set like this versus what you would use on stage?

Jeremy: These are like weight training for drums. When you practice with something that’s heavier, you get used to that weight, so then when you go use regular drumsticks, they feel super light. You feel like Superman all of a sudden. It’s like walking around with ankle weights all day and then taking them off.

And here’s a piece of your sax, Dom.

Dom: That’s a mouthpiece for the saxophone. And then I have reeds. A reed is a little piece of wood. You just get it wet, line it up, and boom. I can use one for two or three shows. It’s wood, so it’s finicky. If I change altitudes, that affects it a lot. It’s humid here, but then when I go home to Colorado, the reed will dry out in half a day. It’s the worst part about playing the saxophone. Everything else is great.

How many of these mouthpieces do you have to carry with you?

Dom: Just one usually, but lately I’ve been playing between two different ones. It depends on the reed. I have one that’s better if it’s a little softer and one that’s better if it’s a little bit harder. That way, if one is playing better than another, I’m always ready when we’re traveling.

What’s this lip balm?

Dom: Oh, I don’t know. My wife finds this stuff. She’s all about skin products. But lip balm is super essential for saxophone playing. My lips get chapped like [snaps] that. I have tons of lip balm. The brand doesn’t really matter. I just need to always have something.

I’m surprised because I feel like most people who are super into lip balm have a brand they’re loyal to.

Dom: Well, there is one that I really like. It’s dope, dope, dope. It’s by Glossier and smells like mint chocolate chip. And if you have a little extra, you can use it on your elbows!

What’s this little packet?

Dom: Rolling papers.

Jeremy: For weed.

Dom: And actually, if you have sticky pads, you can stick one of these guys underneath the pad and then close the pad and then pull it out, and it un-sticks it.

I’m going to pretend like I know what you’re talking about.

Dom: Oh, for my saxophone. The keys. So if one of the keys is sticky and won’t open up and close, you can stick a rolling paper in between, close it, and then pull the rolling paper out.

Because it absorbs the oil?

Dom: Yeah, exactly.

What strain of weed is in this little container?

Dom: This is called the Deadhead OG. It’s from a shop called 14er in Boulder. I like to try a lot of different stuff. This one, in particular, I’m not really partial to. I do like some indica on the road. It’s nice for when you need to go to sleep or just relax.

Does TSA ever stop you?

Dom: No, but if they did, I might get in trouble. But they have never stopped me out of the hundreds of times I’ve done it. They’re not looking for it. But don’t fly internationally with it. Wouldn’t recommend that.

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