[INTERVIEW] Big Wild Taps Into Tame Impala, Loves Live Performances, and Talks Touring
Big Wild is gaining traction in the festival circuit and it’s easy to see why The energetic, tropical, pop influenced tracks that he produces are perfect for a summer time festival. Big Wild, who goes by Jackson, produces eclectic tracks that anyone and their mother can get behind. I sat down with him and talked about his various influences, a changing world for DJ/Performer hybrids like himself, and his plans for the future.
TS&S: You recently got off of a pretty large tour that spanned a huge portion of the United States: what are some of the positive aspects of touring and what are some negative aspects of touring that aren’t generally talked about?
Jackson: I think my least favorite aspect, at least for me, was after leaving the venue we would go to our hotel to crash but you would really only get a few hours of sleep before having to leave again. A lot of my shows end pretty late and most of the time we will be up before 7am the next day and then drive anywhere from five to eight hours to get to the next show. Just the lack of sleep every night can really be draining. The exhaustion really creeps up on you. It’s extremely hard to work on new music while on tour because of this. But I mean, all of the traveling and the new people you get to meet that are so into your music makes up for all of the negatives. That has to be my favorite part about touring, getting to meet people face to face after the show and see the people that really support me.
TS&S: Speaking of your fan base. Do you think there is a large give and take aspect between yourself and the people that listen to your music and come to your live shows?
Jackson: Yeah totally, I do. I feel like I understand, when I get to finally meet these people, what they like about my music. It’s always interesting because different people like different things about my music. It’s really cool to go to different places and hear all of these different unique perspectives of like “oh I love this song you do” or “I love this sample that you used in this specific song.” Some people like the music because it makes them happy, some people like it because it makes them dance. It’s really cool to see all of the different reasons to see why people listen to me and it’s really on me to process that and think “Well okay this is what people like about my music what do I want to do with it.”
TS&S: You mentioned that a lot of people from different backgrounds like your music for different reasons. I think most of your listeners would agree that your production is definitely eclectic by nature. You draw from a lot of different styles and sounds. What are some of the main musical and artistic styles that you tend to draw from during production?
Jackson: I definitely draw a lot from hip hop in that the rhythm and tempos that I use are totally influenced by that genre and that’s how I first got into producing music on the computer. Since then it’s really based kind of on what music I’m really into at the time. For a while now I’ve been really into Tame Impala so I’ve really had kind of a psychedelic slash synth influence on my music. Because my music taste is always changing I think that’s why a lot of my songs can sound very different from each other because it’s just what I’m feeling at the time…But I always try to have some sort of structure where, like, I want everything to make people dance and feel really good. I want my music to make my crowd feel some sort of really strong emotion. I don’t know what you’d say, maybe the foundation of the music that I produce stays constant. Aside from that it’s really what I’m into at the time, like I’m always looking for new music so it definitely changes a lot.
TS&S: You look at a guy like Kevin Parker and you see all of the instruments that he plays and his skills in producing albums entirely on his own. For someone making music, I feel like their influence in the music world today must be tremendous. It’s interesting that you draw musical interest from them.
Jackson: What he [Kevin Parker; Tame Impala] does really well is blending together acoustic and electronic sounds which is something I’m always trying to do. And if you listen to his new album, Currents, a lot of the beats are kind of hip hop sounding.
TS&S: There’s a huge R&B influence to their sound.
Jackson: Yeah. He actually does a lot of the things that I want to do with my music and he’s doing it really well. He’s super talented and I love his music.
TS&S: Tame Impala largely draws on the producing aspect of music but also has a large performative aspect as well. You’ve recently shifted towards more of a live performance. Can you tell us a little bit about this shift and the new included components you use in your live set while touring?
Jackson: I’ve always been trying to use live things in my set. I have a keyboard, a drum pad, a cahone, I do whistling, and then I do live mixing of my music and it’s all kind of blended in this one man band sort of thing. I want to have the smoothness and transitions of a DJ set but at the same time I want to be playing things because at the same time it helps me get into the music and I think it can help other people get into the music too. I’m really big on having a performance.
TS&S: In the formative stages of your career, how did working with artists like Odesza and Gramatik influence you as an artist?
Jackson: My first tour was with Odesza and that was a big influence on me. Their set is really well thought out and I was really inspired to see how their live set progressed. Especially now, I just did their show with them at Red Rocks and saw them bring on string players, a marching band…It’s just really cool to see this large scale production and that’s always how I’ve kind of envisioned my live shows going too. To see them execute it so well, it’s almost more than just a music show it’s kind of like a theatre.
TS&S: Almost like a theatrical performance.
Jackson: Yeah, and that’s something that I’ve always wanted to do and it’s really inspiring to me. And Gramatik too he has a great live show. And touring with Griz too… I’ve always been able to tour with live acts and it really makes me better at what I do.
TS&S: Speaking of a live performative act, we just saw [Supergroup] Big Grizmatik take the stage last night. All of the tremendous amounts of instruments and production that goes into is extremely awesome to see. It’s really eclectic. Are you planning on making the shift towards a large scale theatrical performance?
Jackson: It’s tough to say. I definitely want to continue evolving and expanding my show. I do what to make it something really big and unique. But I’m still thinking of a bunch of different ideas for how to do that. Because I want to do it my own way I don’t necessarily want to do what everybody else does.
TS&S: So you’re sort of in the formative stages of trying to plan all that stuff?
J: Yeah and, like, how am I gonna do this but stay true to me and give people something that they can’t get at any other show, you know? But I definitely want to keep expanding it and possible start playing with other players almost like a band of some sort. But for now I’m sticking with the solo show and improving that.