Big Grams is many things. First and foremost, it’s a musical collaboration between former Outkast member Big Boi and Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter of the eclectic indie duo Phantogram. The result is a distinctive cross-genre partnership that Carter describes as “a sort of psyched-out hip-hop.”
While Big Grams blossomed out of Phantogram and Big Boi’s mutual respect for each other’s work, it has evolved beyond a solely musical endeavor and is now bringing together audiences with boundary-pushing live visual experiences.
“We want the viewer, listener, fans that are there in the room to feel like they’re going on a trip,” says Big Boi. “If the music got them there sonically… then visually we’re aiming to put them in a trance.”
Phantogram had already experimented with using Microsoft’s Kinect to generate real-time visuals based on their onstage movements in a 2014 show at Hollywood Cemetery.
“The cemetery show was such a special environment, but we only used the Kinect on a couple songs to complement the scenery,” says Barthel. “With Big Grams we wanted to step it up and bring those elements to the forefront.”
Big Grams partnered with new media and entertainment studio V Squared Labs to develop a new, immersive visual experience triggered by the band’s performance. Utilizing Microsoft Kinect technology, in combination with high-end computer graphics, the reactive video experience was rolled out for the inaugural Okeechobee Music Festival in Florida earlier this year.