I had the honor of conducting an interview with DJ and artist, Big Wild, after I saw him perform at the Roseland Theater. He has gained enough excitement from his EDM originals and remixes to go on tour this year with ODESZA and GRiZ. You might recognize him from his hit “Aftergold” from ODESZA’s Foreign Family Collective imprint. You might also recognize his GRiZ remix “For the Love”. His success has grown two-fold over the last year and it only continues to flourish. If you don’t know him yet, trust me, Big Wild will be in your playlist by summer.
AISLINN RENNISON: How did you like playing in Portland?
BIG WILD: A lot. Every time I’ve been there it’s been really cool. It’s a cool city too, to go and visit. Last time [I visited] we had a couple days off so we got to go explore. They weren’t lying about the rain and the cloudiness; it was raining literally the whole time. But super lush, I like it a lot.
AR: So how was touring with ODESZA and how did you get the opportunity to go with them?—Which is awesome by the way!
BW: I first toured with them in Feb. or March [of last year] as an opener as well and I’ve done a couple other things with them, like the “Say My Name” remix and the Foreign Family Collective release. They have been very supportive of my music. We have similar music style with some of our songs so it is kind of a good pairing. So when they asked me to come on this tour, I was more than happy to do that. It’s been really helpful to be on tour with them and they are really great guys. We will show each other what we are working on, our work-in-progress and what we are into at the time; it’s really cool to have someone to share that musical interest with.
AR: So is your process of making music similar?
BW: It is a little different because there are two of them and one of me and we come from different backgrounds in terms of music. But after being with them, I did get an understanding of where they come from, and likewise from me. We definitely learned from each other.
AR: That’s great, so what do you think was the most valuable thing you learned from them?
BW: Definitely learned a good amount about arrangement and song structure and what goes into making a song. And learning what you need and don’t need in the song, cutting out unnecessary parts.
AR: So as I was watching you perform, you reminded me a lot of Lido by the way you have your instruments all around you and you turn in circles to play. It looks like you have a lot of fun with it. Did you get inspiration from him or him from you to perform that way?
BW: You know, I’ve been doing that pretty much since I started but I wouldn’t say I’ve had a long career, I would say I started at the beginning of this year. That being said though, I did see his show and it was really awesome—I was inspired, but at the same time I could see what he was doing with it with his performance and set-up. Then I was really into Slow Magic’s show and just the sheer energy. I think raw energy is something I try to have in my own show, too. That is one of the reasons we all go to see music,
because you want to get energized and inspired. So, those are two really big performers for me. I’ve also seen a fair amount of shows outside of electronic music—people who I could tell were really into the music on stage.
That is how I want to be presenting myself on stage: as someone who is really into the music, but who really wants to engage the crowd too.
AR: That’s awesome—the way you describe that raw energy is for sure what I felt when I saw you perform. What are your favorite instruments and [electronic] sounds to mess around with?
BW: That’s a good question… My favorite one to play is the drums, it is more physical than the other instruments and it comes natural to me. That being said, as far as a particular sound, it’s hard to say. I’m always looking for new sounds; I can get bored with sounds really easily so I will always try to find something new. But I do gravitate toward the piano a lot. That is always a classical, good sounding instrument. That is often times where I come up with the melodies and harmonies for my songs. I will take the piano and maybe put it into a synthesizer or something. The piano for me, is where a lot of my ideas start.
AR: That’s what I was about to ask next: How do you start? How do you come up with that first initial sound—is there ever a story behind it or any type of emotion? Or is it most of the time just messing around to find something and then going from there?
BW: A lot of the time I have made a sound that for whatever reason at that point in time I just really vibe with. Then I can start to get this feeling of inspiration and vision as to where I could take it. Then I just roll with it; all these ideas start pouring out. Those kinds of songs usually end up being my best ones. But that doesn’t always happen all the time; I don’t always create that way. Sometimes I have to force it because of a deadline; I’m just in a different state of mind, but those can be cool too. My favorite is when I start out and I have an emotion, those are the ones I really enjoy rolling with and making.
AR: Do you find that to be different or the same with your originals vs your remixes?
BW: I’ve gotten that feeling with both. Remixes do give you a starting point and set limitations with what you can do. For me, limitations are good, they kind of give you direction sometimes and force you to be creative with what you have. But with an original, literally nothing is on the table, you could do anything you want, which sometimes makes it more difficult because you have to pick a path where you are going. So remixes are easier to start but originals, when I do find something I like, originals are more satisfying for me when I finish them.
AR: Totally understandable. So I saw that Dancing Astronaut put you in the top 25 artists to listen for in 2016—which is an honor and I completely agree you should be on that list—but how do you think things have changed for you, or will change for you, as you become more and more recognizable and successful?
BW: Yeah, that [Dancing Astronaut article] was awesome! But it’s really cool, it gives me more confidence with what I am doing. When I perform live and people know me and my music and I’m not just some dude on stage–that makes me feel more confident that what I am doing is actually resonating with people. That is the biggest and most positive thing I have experienced so far and that is what I am really looking forward to in this headline tour that is coming up in April and May. I can’t wait to actually see all the people who are into my music, I am really excited about that.
AR: What future plans do you have besides those tours?
BW: I do have a couple big projects in the works, just working on a lot of new music, and that headline tour I mentioned but also performing at some festivals this summer. Then I am hoping to have some upcoming show or some kind of tour for the fall. But right now I am working on all new music and vocalists—making something special for my fans.
AR: Awesome, I am excited to hear your new stuff!
BW: Thanks, I am excited too, it has been a little while. I almost forgot what it feels like to release music.
AR: I saw your photos on Instagram and Facebook and if that is you taking those pictures then you have another talent…in photography.
BW: I just started having my girlfriend help me out with those pictures, so I have to give her some of the credit for the most recent ones. But also all the touring I’ve done this past year has given me the opportunity for great photos from people on the road or people who are taking photos at the shows. Hats off to the lighting guys too, because they make me look a lot better on stage.
AR: Besides photography, what other side passions do you value in your life?
BW: Ah man, I gotta say music, pretty much, is it all the time. But probably my second biggest passion is food. I always try to make sure to eat well. And, I am kind-of learning how to surf because I need another hobby to get me out of the studio.
AR: I read that you taught third graders how to make music on the computer. Could you tell me about that experience?—It sounds pretty cool.
BW: So that was my sister-in-law, a third grade teacher, and she thought it would be cool if I went into the class and showed them how to make a few things on the computer. So I basically set up my little drum pad and little keyboard and I was showing making music on the computer to be cool and leave some type of an impression. Maybe a kid goes home and downloads some software from a computer and you never know—it could start a new hobby. To be able to show it to kids who are so impressionable is really cool. I think they would probably get a lot more into that than starting to learn an instrument. Maybe the idea of making music on the computer is a little more appealing to them, so I thought it was a cool thing to do for sure.
AR: When you were growing up did you have someone like that, who introduced you to music and helped pave the path in that way?
BW: When I was young I learned to play piano and trumpet. My brother was a trumpet player and that’s what got me into trumpet. I started getting into hip-hop when I downloaded it on my computer and started learning.
I kinda learned that one by myself. I did have a good friend from high school—we produced together and shared ideas which is something you need starting out. But yeah, I originally was a trumpet player.
AR: Do you still play the trumpet?
BW: Honestly not in a while but I brought it out with me from me Massachusetts to L.A. and I am going to practice everyday and maybe use it for my live shows. But we will see about that, I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
AR: You are with Red Light Management; what was the process of getting signed on with them?
BW: They originally [sought] me out because ODESZA also has the same management and I already knew Adam at Red Light. And I was at a point in my career where I was looking for management that was more experienced and also had more resources in terms of who they knew and how to manage a career. It has been great so far, working with them.
AR: Is there anything else you would like your fans to know?
BW: I just want them to know that I am hard at work with new music and 2016 is going to have a lot of new releases coming out. But I am going to keep my mouth shut, I don’t want to give everything away.
AR: For sure. One last simple question for you…How did you chose your name: Big Wild?
BW: It came about from my first trip to California and I was amazed by the landscape.
It was something I had never seen before and it represented what I wanted my music to do which is something adventurous and unique. Those two words, Big Wild, kind of came naturally.
I can’t say that there was a Eureka moment where I was like, “Alright, Big Wild!” but there was a moment when it just seemed right and I have stuck with it ever since.
AR: Thank you so much for the interview, it was an honor to meet you. I am glad I got to see you perform and I’m for sure excited for your 2016 releases.
BW: Great, thanks dude, I appreciate it!