Big Wild’s first full-length album, titled “Superdream,” was released yesterday after months of anticipation, single releases and hype-building. Superdream is a unique album that defies genre – is it an indie pop album or electronic or something entirely new and unnameable? Whatever it is, it stamps Big Wild’s signature euphoric sound to every track and is impossible to listen to without a huge, giddy smile on your face. Through a steady crest and trough of songs slow and sweet to those more upbeat, vocal to solely instrumental, Superdream is seamlessly knit together by a sound that reverberates a bursting passion for life.
Big Wild, whose real name is Jackson Snell, catapulted onto the main stage of the electronic music scene in 2015 when he opened for the enormously successful Seattle duo ODESZA for the San Francisco and Los Angeles stops of their tour. His musical success continued with a wildly popular remix of ODESZA’s track “Say My Name,” a few popular Soundcloud singles, including “Aftergold” featuring Tove Stryke which currently boasts over 35M plays on Spotify, and subsequent tours with more massive EDM artists including GriZ, Tycho and Bassnectar. Big Wild’s first multi-track release Invincible EP, a compilation of fun, exciting tracks ready-made for huge, exuberant crowds, was released in 2017 by ODESZA’s Foreign Family Collective label.
It’s clear why ODESZA took such a liking to Big Wild’s sound. Listening to Big Wild’s music is an escape from the negative in the world. It echoes with an overwhelming sense of positivity and seems to encourage listeners to look on the bright side, something ODESZA tends to emulate through their music as well and the kind of attitude and style that draws a wide and diverse following to their stages year after year.
In a 2016 interview with YourEDM, when asked about his opinion about releasing an EP versus a full-length album, Big Wild stated, “I’ve debated with myself a lot on whether to go with an EP or album. It’s a tricky situation because a lot of artists want to put out an album but they’re afraid no one will pay attention to it because it features too many songs at once, which I think is a very legitimate concern. On the other hand, an EP might not have enough songs to fully put together my concept that I want to share with people.” Three years and one EP later, Big Wild’s Superdream expertly bundles a unified concept and demands that listeners pay attention with songs that are impossible to get bored listening to.
Above all, Superdream is a love story. It tells of many kinds of love – love for a person, places and life as a whole. The album kicks off with the beautiful City of Sound, a song that sets the tone for the rest of the album with the joyous lyrics “empty your lungs as we shout to the stars.” The rest of the album that follows this eruptive entry is a shouting to the stars, in a sense. It’s a profession of a deep love for the world and all of the beautiful things, places and people it has to offer.
Joypunks, the second song on the album and one of Big Wild’s first teaser releases, is the kind of song that it is physically impossible not to dance to – I dare you to try. If you’ve seen Big Wild live within the past year, you probably recognized Joypunks from his sets as that song that you loved but could never seem to find anywhere for the longest time. If not immediately roped in by City of Sound, Joypunks definitely catches the listeners attention and hooks you in for the whole ride.
Though it’s difficult to identify standout songs on an album of standout songs, Purple Sand (My Home) sticks out to me as one of those songs that provides a brilliant genre cross, mixing a sort of happy-go-lucky surfer rock sound, whistling and electronic beats, and tells Snell’s personal story so beautifully.
A native of Massachusetts (represent!), Jackson Snell moved to Northern California and began producing under the guise of Big Wild there, choosing a name inspired by the natural beauty of the Bay Area, which was unlike anything he’d seen in the northeast. In Purple Sand he speaks of home, giving listeners the sense that he’s not just speaking about a physical place but the feeling it provides and the people it has connected him with. He speaks of sacrifice, leaving behind everything he knows, for the sake of experiencing something brand new. “Nobody tells you the water’s so cold/ But I need a change before I get too old” so beautifully expresses the feeling of being in a strange new place where one sometimes feels out of place, but understanding that that feeling is something that comes with a perhaps necessary change of scenery.
The rest of the album shines with joyous, almost gospel-like vocals on 6’s to 9’s and estulike She Makes Magic that require no words at all to express the same over-the-moon-in-love feeling 6’s to 9’s expresses in words. Awaken closes out the album with a message: “find your way home.” We’re reminded that this home is not a physical place, it’s the feeling of belonging, of love and of connection. It’s obvious when listening to this album that Big Wild has found his home in this sense, and he’s telling us that it’s out there for us, too, we just need to find our way.
If Superdream is any indication of his future, Big Wild is in for a long, exciting career. I look forward to future sounds and seeing him live (for my third time) in Boston this March!
Big Wild is on tour now! Check out tour dates and buy tickets to see him live here.