The Bigness
Photo: Danie Harris

The Bigness is an indie rock band founded in 2011 by singer-songwriter Kristin Bigness and her partner, John Bueno.

Current Members

  • Kristin Bigness: lead vocals, guitar, keys, bass
  • John Bueno: lead guitar, production, backup vocals
  • David Kovach: drums and percussion, backup vocals

Discography

History

Early Years: Formation and Surf + Turf

Bigness and Bueno met in 2008. Bigness had been playing as a solo act since the age of 14 alongside her tenure in the riot grrl band Mary Nowhere (2001–2004) and experimental indie rock band Kehaar (2005-2006). Bueno was then the frontman of Organ Blues, a three-piece garage rock outfit whose name was inspired by a T. Rex song.

Bigness had previously released her solo work under her full name, including 2005’s Bedroom Eyes, 2008’s Glasgow EP, and a series of singles grounded firmly in the folk-rock diet on which she grew up.

As Bigness and Bueno began to collaborate on songwriting and production, they decided to create The Bigness moniker with which they’d release their full-band material. While Bigness fronted the project and wrote the majority of the music and lyrics at the time, Bueno engineered the record, performed lead guitar, contributed heavily to arrangements, and co-wrote the EP’s post-apocalyptic love song, “Blink an Eye.” Bigness performed lead and backup vocals, rhythm guitar, and bass. Charlie Abriel played the drums. The Bigness released the Surf + Turf EP on September 6, 2011.

Lineup Changes and Time Traveler

In 2012, Gavin Potts (bass guitar) and David Kovach (drums) joined as full-time members and The Bigness began performing in and around Philadelphia. In 2013, Potts left the band and Stephen Maurer (former frontman for Philly punk band Odessa Stair) came on board to play bass guitar.

From 2013 to 2015, the band performed regionally while deepening their collaboration on songwriting. In January 2016, they began recording with Jeff Zeigler of Uniform Recording. Over the summer of 2016, they released two singles: “Run! Run! (Escape Anthem)” and “Beautiful Life.” In September 2016, with the help of a successful Kickstarter campaign, The Bigness released the full EP, Time Traveler.

John Vettesse of WXPN called it “a glorious pop record in the vein of Belly and 90s R.E.M.; recorded with the prolific Jeff Zeigler, the album’s songs are a radiant reflection on life and death, on the temporal onslaught and the things left behind in its wake.” (The Key Studio Sessions, 2017)

Evolution of Sound and What We Make

Following the release of Time Traveler, the band continued to tour regionally while writing the material that would become What We Make.

The band started recording What We Make in March 2018 at The Headroom in Philadelphia with engineer and producer Mark Watter. In April 2018, Bigness, Bueno, and Kovach took a hiatus from recording to travel to Nepal and hike the Everest Base Camp Trek. Upon their return, they incorporated the sounds of yak bells and singing bowls into the intro/outro of the record.

The Bigness released the first single from What We Make on October 19, 2018. Penned by Maurer, “The Rest of the Sky” is a powerpop song about the desperation that sinks in when everyday routine kills your creative energy and dulls your passion. A video directed and shot by Danny Gevirtz and produced by Danie Harris accompanied the single’s release.

The full record was released on November 2, 2018. Bigness called What We Make “a reflection on what we all, individually and collectively, create—the art we make, what we make of our lives, and what we make of our world.”

Bigness takes us back to her riot grrl roots in the title track. Frustrated by pervasive violence against womxn and marginalized groups, Bigness called on her sisters and friends for additional backup vocals. A roaring release chant in the song's final refrain -- to “run circles ‘round ‘em” -- encourages womxn to "get up and keep on running".

Sonically, Bigness, Bueno, Maurer, and Kovach sought to merge their varied influences more cohesively on this, their second album together. The album includes wall of sound guitars inspired by Pixies and Mitski’s “Your Best American Girl” along with soaring guitar solos a la The War on Drugs. Vocals are breathy and melodic, recorded close up to the mic and inspired largely by Metric’s Emily Haines.

Steve’s Last Waltz, COVID-19, and the Band’s Current State

In the fall of 2019, Maurer amicably resigned from The Bigness. The band’s last performance with the lineup of six years took place at waR3house3 in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, on November 16, 2019.

Following Maurer’s departure, Bigness, Bueno, and Kovach began writing and rehearsing new material with additional instrumentation. Bigness introduced piano and organ while Bueno began producing electronic beats and synth patterns to combine with live drums.

In March of 2020, COVID-19 halted the band’s in-person rehearsals.

Throughout quarantine, Bigness and Bueno continued to write and record at home. On October 2, 2020, they released a cover of “Something in the Air,” written by Speedy Keen and first recorded by Thunderclap Newman in 1969. On February 5, 2021, they released the original, “Be Careful.”

Bigness and Bueno continue to write and evolve their sound in their home, collaborating with Kovach remotely until they can resume rehearsals.

Former Members

  • Stephen Maurer: bass, vocals
  • Ali Freezman: backup vocals
  • Melissa Gregoli: backup vocals
  • Charlie Abriel: drums

Album Artwork

As a designer and creative director by trade, Bigness embraced the releases of Time Traveler and What We Make as opportunities to collaborate with artists within her circle.

For Time Traveler, she partnered with Robb Leef. Together, they discussed the album’s themes and Leef created a visual concept. Leef illustrated a series of line-art constellations. Bigness combined these illustrations with photography by John Bueno for the album cover and created a design system for all the album materials and merchandise.

On What We Make, Bigness designed the album cover and provided lyrics, early mixes, and color stories to six visual artists. Each artist created visual interpretations of a different song, which Bigness used to design a zine that featured them alongside the song lyrics. The artists included: