As a culture we have progressed into a time where music – as an ever-changing entity – has become the norm. Continuously evolving and shattering any ideals, proving that vision and desire will pave the road for us to explore.
And now a new voice has emerged from the digital landscape. Birthed from mistrust of the internet, yet keen on the voyage; Big Data seeks to explore the link between flesh and wire with their new music project and hit single “Dangerous”.
We got a chance to sit down with producer Alan Wilkis as he shares some insight into his realm and the creative process.
I work with a lot of different people. I usually write the music first, and then I get together with a bunch of different singers to co-write the words and melodies.
What type of program do you use when producing?
Everything in Ableton. I use Native Instruments along with many other plug-ins such as ‘Waves’.
I send out my final mixes to be mastered
So how does that work with live performances?
Well, we do really want to sound like a band. So we have Gunner Olson on drums, Zac Colwell (aka Zac n Cheez) on bass, and we do a lot of three part harmonies with our vocalist Janelle Kroll.
Is Joywave a different singer / project?
Yep, Joywave (Dan Armbruster) was the first singer I started working with.
How about the single ‘Dangerous’?
Yes, and Janelle Kroll sings all of his parts plus more in our live shows. She’s like a hot Dan, or a much more attractive Dan…LOL. If we are ever in the same city or what not, we would have a show where Dan (Joywave) would play with us and sing his parts.
Who would you say are your biggest influences?
I listen to a shit ton of different stuff, I guess I wouldn’t have a ‘biggest’ influence. I am very strict with myself with how much I listen to them. I like to listen to the full albums only three times before I pick my favorite songs out of them, and put them on a Spotify playlist.
Do you work with any other engineers, producers etc. ?
I play everything, I produce everything, and I mix everything.
“When he mixes these songs I’m just amazed.”
- Janelle Kroll yells out from across the table.
What about our social skills? What about our connections and interactions? They barely exist at times and your music really touches on this…
I try to take modern problems of technology, that have to do with the internet or social media and write about how the way we interact is changing because of them.
A digression of organic interactions or connections throughout the globe?
It’s not ALL bad, but there is a lot of bad that comes with it… There’s just a lot of creepy shit that does happen because of it. But on the other hand our lives become more efficient. We become more productive and connected, there are pros and cons.
I think what I find interesting about it, is that its sort of a ‘necessary’ evil.’
Oh yea, I write with everyone that I’ve worked with. So with Joywave, he would usually come up with a concept. Then we both would just sit there and slave over every word, until everything was perfect.
Big Data has been playing on radio stations such as KROQ, 98.7, KSRW, so of course you would want it to be perfect!
KSRW were really the first ones to give us a chance on them. The funny thing is, we wrote most of these songs like two years ago. KROQ was the furthest from our minds back then. We just wanted to make music. I just want to get the song writing right, and if good things come after, then that’s fantastic. The song just needs to be good.
So how does the creative process go?
When I write stuff I usually start with a drum beat. First, just make a kick. Put different kick samples on top of each other. Then I’ll make a snare. Make a pattern. Then the song just kind of grows from there. Dan and I were both busy with our own schedules during the writing process so that created artificial deadlines for us. He would be in town (Brooklyn) during certain periods of time so we would set goals to have parts finished around those times.
Do you ever mess with the tempo after starting?
Yes all the time. Sometimes the song just doesn’t seem fast enough.
What is Facehawk?
Facehawk is an interactive music video for the single ‘Dangerous.’ I met this guy on a trip to Denver of all places. We hung out one night and neither of us knew of each other’s artistic occupations. So the next day I became friends with him on Facebook, looked at his profile, and he had all these links to interviews on his weird internet project. A lot of it was award winning; Creators Project, Wired, Etc. So he was legit. All of his stuff was about the Internet. So I was like man, we have to make something together! So I told him the song ‘Dangerous’ was about this idea of watching while being watched on the internet. How you could stalk somebody anonymously. And just the cycle of everyone looking at what everyone is doing… We came up with the idea of Facehawk in about two days, then spent about six months building it.
How does it work?
So you go to this website called TheFacehawk.com. It allows you access from your own Facebook account. It opens up under your profile page. It’s a simulation. When it begins it types in something ironic like ‘Big Data song is reasonably good’ Then one of your friends in your network likes the status, another one likes it then another comments on it. Till it’s going through the Facebook wall as a simulation. Then, the page starts shaking and it explodes. Then the song starts to play. As the song plays all your statuses and photos you’ve posted float by the screen and slowly form and giant three dimensional hawk. So it’s like ‘watching you like a hawk’ Yea haha…it’s really weird.
What would you say the next step is, another single?
Yea definitely another single.
We at Tinsel Tokyo vote for ‘Dig Dater’.
Yea ‘Big Dater’ seems to be a strong song that could work well as a single and yes, we’ve kind of decided on that.
You you’ve released a four song EP, do you play
anything else live?
We play all four songs plus two more songs we have written and recorded.
When will there be an album?
We are hoping for a fall release actually.
We heard your single ‘Dangerous’ on a Taco Bell Commercial…
Yea we signed that account earlier this year. It’s also been playing through the NBA Play-Offs as well.
Are you saying Taco Bell is ‘Dangerous’?
Yes I’ve actually been married for a while now. My wife supports me even as things have changed in my life. I’m busy and I’m on the road a lot now so things are a lot different.
Who will you are playing with next on the road?
We are actually playing on the east coast with ‘La Roux.’ So that should be exciting. We are hoping that it will step up our marketing strategy.
Well we have no doubt Big Data will be a big hit.
We just keep looking forward and hoping for the best as we continue on the road.
Big Data will be on tour with Fitz & The Tantrums, don’t miss them, thanks for reading!
May the force be with you, Interview by Nicky Mariotti