Gimme Your Answers: An Interview w/ Big Grams (Big Boi + Phantogram)

Big Grams
Big Grams — the dynamite project of Big Boi and Phantogram‘s Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel — dropped their eponymous debut record back in September. Wanting to learn more about the collaboration and experimental hip-hop release, AMBY recently gave the trio a call to discuss being super creative, groovy songs, awesome dance moves, deadly sins, strip clubs, and the light at the end of the tunnel. Enjoy our exclusive interview below:

AMBY: Hello Big Grams! I’m really digging this new record and am so glad we could make this happen.

Big Boi: Hey man, thank you.

AMBY: It’s my pleasure. I know that the three of you go way back as Phantogram actually worked on a Big Boi solo record, Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors a couple of years back. So when did you decide to pull the trigger and get the Big Grams project off the ground?

Big Boi: Actually when we were recording Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, the reason why they’re on three songs is because everything that we were recording was sounding just heaven sent. Within a week and a half time we did three songs. Objectum Sexuality, CPU, and Lines and if we had more time we would’ve kept going. So around that time he started joking like we should do a whole album. And when the album came out the fans started saying “hey they need to do a whole album together”. We said “hey man lets call ourselves Big Grams and let’s make this unstoppable shit”, and we did. We happy. We feel good. We feel blessed.

AMBY: You just released your debut self-titled record very recently. Since all three of you are creative individuals, how did you decide who wears which hat in regards to production, the songwriting songwriting, lyrics, or arrangement?

Josh: There was no decision in that. It was three super creative people coming together and doing what we felt was necessary and good for the songs. We didn’t really delegate anything, we were just having fun and being experimental.

AMBY: I have to say that Lights On has to be my favourite track on the album, one reason being the lyrics. I especially love “the darkest lights produce the brightest stars” and “materialism is a prison”. What exactly are you referencing in that song? Is it society as a whole or the music industry?

Big Boi: Just life as a whole you know. It’s like you know no matter which are going through, there’s always light at the end end of the tunnel. See what I’m saying? There’s always some place that you can come back to and feel safe and comfort. Yea, it’s just groovy like that. Groovy, baby. Real groovy, baby.

AMBY: You worked with some other great artists on the release, like Run the Jewels and Skrillex. Combined, there are probably a lot of artists and friends in the industry that you could have chosen to work with. So how did these two come about?

Josh: Well we wanted to keep features to a minimum really because it’s all about the three of us, but you know, we have a good relationship with Run the Jewels’ El and Killer Mike. And so, if anybody was gonna be on the track, we wanted them to be on Born to Shine. Sarah can tell the story about Skrilly baby.

Sarah: Skrilly baby was a friend of ours that would just kind of met through touring all the time and playing the same festivals, the festival circuit. Basically, I was hanging with him out at Hangout Fest in Alabama. We went into his green room and I was playing him some of the songs that we were working on with Big Boi and asked him if you want to be a part of it.

AMBY: You actually recently teased in a press release that there might be some live projects in the future. I’m not sure how much you’re allowed to say at the moment, but are there any plans to play live in the future? If so, what do you kind of have planned for that?

Sarah: Were definitely going to play live. Basically, were going to wow the crowd with simple visuals and our awesome dance moves. Breakdancing in the rain.

AMBY: That’s great! Something I came across which is awesome is this cool game on your website where players combat the seven deadly sins by utilizing power-up trophies to navigate obstacles. Was the intent to write songs based on the seven sins, or was that a realization after the songs were written?

Josh: We had the idea of making seven deadly songs back when we were doing Vicious Lies we have this whole idea. Basically, there are different themes to the songs and it’s up to the listener to kind of connect the dots and how the seven deadly sins connect with them. You know?

AMBY: When it comes to each of you personally, which sin would you think you relate the most to?

Big Boi: I am an angel.

AMBY and Big Grams: [laughs]

AMBY: How about the Phantogram folks?

Sarah: Oh, the fat one.

AMBY: Probably sloth?

Sarah: Sloth or gluttony.

Big Boi: You know what, I’m an angel but I do like the lust [laughs].

AMBY: Since you’ve known each other for a while now, outside of music, what are some things that you like doing together?

Big Grams: Going to strip clubs. We do a lot of that, going to strip clubs. Lots of strip clubs man. Waffle House late at night. We like to eat lots of lobster together. Lobsters all day. Yea all day. Lobster friends.

AMBY: [laughs] Fantastic! On that note, thanks once again for your time today. It was great speaking with you all.

Big Grams: Thank you. Likewise, appreciate it.

AMBY: Have a great day!

Big Boi: Thanks, you too. Zip-a-dee-doo-dah. Bye-bye!

***

Thank you Big Grams, for giving us your answers!

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Interview by Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout

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