SSDP AMPLIFY Project Interview with Big Gigantic

Jeremy Salken of Big Gigantic discussing Amendment 64 and political activism

Re-Posted from Students for Sensible Drug Policy, I started the University of Maryland chapter of SSDP in 2002 and have been involved in fighting the drug war ever since. Congrats to all anti-drug warriors on the big steps forward this election after decades of work. <3

Brooke Napier, National Outreach Coordinator for the AMPLIFY Project (Students for Sensible Drug Policy), asked Jeremy Salken of Big Gigantic a few questions last week about the recent passage of Amendment 64 and how the music community can encourage youth to get involved in the political process.

Thank you for taking the time before tonight’s show to talk with me! Amendment 64 in your home state of Colorado just passed, officially legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. What do you think about this and what this means for drug policy reform at large?

I think it’s very exciting! Locally in Colorado it seems it hasn’t really changed the mentality towards marijuana because it was decriminalized already in some localities here, and basically decriminalized state-wide before. It’s a big move for the country though, and I’m hoping the federal government doesn’t interfere with the laws here or in Washington; they should listen to what the people want. I have a feeling a lot of people will end up moving to Colorado, and I can understand why; I grew up in VA where marijuana use was really heavily penalized. I mean, I want people to know about this new law and how great Colorado is overall, but it’s peaceful and quiet here so I don’t want that to get ruined either. (Laughs)

What would you say to student volunteers and activists who helped work on this initiative or to others who are working on legalization in other parts in of the country?

Thank you all SO much for your hard work. Any kind of ground support and grassroots organizing is great, and word of mouth is best way to get information out there and to build a solid following. It’s so important for voters to not just see advertisements but to hear from real people who care and know about the issues. People become much more committed to a cause when they see the battle being fought on the ground. It’s so inspiring to see what people can do when they put their minds to it. And this kind of commitment doesn’t stop with just the issue of legalizing marijuana. There are many important issues out there that we need to work together on, and to stop being afraid to rise up against corporations and the mainstream propaganda. I think this shows we are making steps in the right direction though.

How do you think the music community can influence youth to get involved in the political process?

There are many organizations out there like the AMPLIFY Project, Conscious Alliance, Rock the Vote, Head Count, and Massive Exposure for example that encourage people within the music community to get involved in the political process and I think a lot of youth are already actively working with these organizations.  I encourage everyone involved in these types of organizations to keep it up, and for those not yet involved to get active.  Becoming actively involved in the music community you care about encourages youth to not only look at the music that’s there but at the larger community surrounding the music, which in turn helps them to understand what it’s like to be a part of the larger global community.

I’m 31 now, and when I was 16-my early 20′s I loved jam music and wanted to get in to a million shows. So I used to actually volunteer for Conscious Alliance to get to see my favorite bands for free, and it was great; I became a part of the jam community and really loved to help out however I could and it became important for me to continue the community building process. For me and for many others in the music community now, it was that you’re a fan first and then you start thinking about making it your life and career, and how you can be a part of the bigger picture.

Many of these organizations based around music communities encouraging involvement in the political process have been strong in the jam scene for a while, but I’d really like to see more involvement from the youth in the EDM scene. The EDM scene often attracts a much younger crowd and I encourage those younger kids to realize there’s more than just the music, but that there’s this thriving community as well and they can help make it stronger.

Experimenting with drugs seems to be pretty prevalent within the EDM scene. Honestly though, the reality is that people in general do drugs, just as they have for a long time. I just want people who make that decision to be as safe as they can. That’s why I think AMPLIFY is so awesome. Not only do the volunteers make people aware of what’s going on in drug policy and offer ways to push for policy change, but during shows and at festivals your table offers people a safe place to go to have open discussions about drug use as well as information and materials to help make safer choices. AMPLIFY volunteers help people in a very direct way by offering a place to talk and cool down; of course if there’s a medical emergency you want to get someone to the hospital, but many times people who are too spun are not experiencing a life-threatening emergency and really just need a place to get grounded and for someone to tell them it’ll be ok. So really, thank you to all of the volunteers who help create this space.

We are all just as thankful to have welcomed Big Gigantic as a part of the AMPLIFY project this year, and have really enjoyed being a part of Big Gigantic’s current Uprising Tour. How has the tour been going? What have been your favorite stops so far?

The double tour has been really great. We’ve been able to hit entire country, and I can’t believe there’s only a week and a half left. One of my favorites was the sold out show at the National, in my home town of Richmond, Virginia. Others that really stick out are Kalamazoo, Michigan, being out west in Los Angeles, and Little Rock. I did have a blast getting to many smaller towns too this tour.

Well thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today Jeremy, and have a great show tonight!

Thank you, and I look forward to seeing AMPLIFY at our shows.