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Feature

The Big Moon: "It's starting to feel like a thing"

Hold your conspiracy theories. With The Big Moon in the studio at work on their debut album, this is one landing that nobody can doubt.
Published: 7:50 am, September 09, 2016
The Big Moon: "It's starting to feel like a thing"
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The Big Moon don’t do sad songs. Which is just as well ‘cause since the release of ‘Eureka Moment’ in early 2015, every point of contact with the band has been a moment of sheer joy.

“Does anyone want a piggy back?” asks vocalist/guitarist Juliette Jackson from out of the blue. Within seconds bassist Celia Archer is on her back with guitarist Soph Nathan repeating the same move with drummer Fern Ford. “I feel so safe up here,” laughs Celia. Despite a friendship as old as the band itself (which isn’t very long at all, FYI) they’ve quickly become an inseparable unit. They’re the sort of gang who would not only let you sit with them, they’d bunch up so there was room at their table. One of them, probably Soph, would then explain the inside jokes that were rattling about, not only to make you feel involved but because they’re great stories. If being in most bands looks like a laugh, The Big Moon is hysterical.

The four-piece finish each others sentences, listen to what each other are saying and are quick to remind one another of stories they feel need to be told. “Didn’t that ruin your bucket list, Soph?” asks Fern with a knowing grin. “If you’re lucky you might meet Robbie Williams,” teases Celia. “If you’re really lucky you’ll see Jules meet Robbie Williams.” But more on those later. See, The Big Moon aren’t just good for a laugh. Their music, sharp, bubbly and perfectly capturing those fast paced exchanges, is very much about having a good time. Finding that excitement was the spark that started The Big Moon and has been a constant ever since. There is a light, and it’s never going out.

Jules was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar, harbouring dreams of starting a band. She wasn’t going to wait for a human league to pick her out, shake her up and turn her around though. She was going to go out and do it herself. “I won’t tell you the name of it but it was really fancy, gourmet cocktails that were made out of soil and my job was filling up the glasses of water on people’s tables. I didn’t even get to make the cocktails. I think I made one Martini the entire time I was there.” [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width="stretch_row
[vc_column][vc_single_image image="5135" img_size="full" alignment="center
[/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]After looking, and failing, to find a band to join, she sent out feelers to start her own. “I was really impatient. I tried playing with a couple of friends but I’ve deleted that from my mind,” starts Jules. “We’ve pushed them all out of her brain,” Celia smirks. A few people came but quickly went, either disappearing or too busy to commit, but Fern was the first piece of the puzzle to fall into place. Then came Soph who “wanted to be in a cool rock band” and juggled her many bands and studying in Brighton with the fledgling project, and lastly Celia joined the fray.

“I’d been in a band with my friends at uni,” she says. They were called The Portillo Moment and they wrote post-punk songs about suburban Britain and crisps. “Then we stopped doing that and I missed being in a band. I didn’t have much time and I can’t really play the bass so I can’t go up to anyone and say ‘do you want to start a band?’ because I have literally nothing to offer other than I kinda do it. Then I got a message from a friend, ‘Hey, there’s this band that my friend’s stating and they need a bassist, can you play the bass?’ Yeah, kinda.”

"pull" text="'Silent Movie Susie' is about my nipple


After the first time playing together, the rest of the gang invited Celia back the next day to do it again. “I showed my dad the text and he said, ‘I don’t think that’s a definite yes yet’, then I got off the train on my way to meet them and my bass strap snapped and smacked this child on the head. That’s it, that’s such a bad omen.” “But it was a good omen,” sings Soph. “I specifically said ‘Let’s play with her again, then ask her. Let’s not rush into anything.’ But as soon as she got there, Jules was like, ‘Do you want to be in our band?’.” “Sorry, I blew it,” shrugs Jules. “We obviously all knew it, I was just being too cautious,” adds Soph.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width="stretch_row[vc_column][vc_video link="
" align="center[/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]“I said yes and then they played me ‘Sucker’, and oh my god, this song is sick,” reflects Celia. “It was the perfect way of doing it because Jules wrote the songs so I didn’t have to stand there in a room with people I didn’t know and jam. The idea of that totally terrified me at that point, because I didn’t know how to do that. Now, call me up for a jam and we’ll wig out,” she smiles, before quickly adding: “No. I still hate it. So, the bass lines were already written and the songs were already there, and so were the rest of the people who were really lovely. I walked into this fully formed project like, how the fuck did this happen? It was the dream scenario. Then we were working with Lou, who’s our manager and the fifth member of the band and she was talking about record deals and blah, blah, blah, sure. Whatever. This is just fun and I’m enjoying it and then all of a sudden, ‘Oh, you were serious?’ This is a real thing.”

The rest of the band signed up for similar reasons. “I just liked playing guitar and they were good songs,” explains Soph. “It was fun and a really nice thing to join.” “I was bored, I wanted to play some music and I liked the songs,” echoes Fern.

Once the four points had aligned, things fell into place “ridiculously quickly”. The bristling chemistry of ‘Eureka Moment’? That was recorded one week after Celia joined, “and even as the four of us together, I felt like we were instantly really, really close. We got on and it made a lot of sense very quickly,” she offers, as Soph explains: “It was over summer and we rehearsed most days then hung out in the park. It was a really nice but really weird way of making friends. It’s so different to any other relationship I’ve been in.”

The band had their first group embrace on the floor of the boat they recorded on. “I’m a hugger. I forced it,” grins Celia, and they’ve been thick as thieves ever since. “Obviously there were hard bits and we had to figure things out,” says Soph, before Celia takes over: “But they don’t sound as cool. Also they’re minor. That’s just learning how to play with people.” “Yeah, I don’t remember them now.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width="stretch_row[vc_column][vc_single_image image="5136" img_size="full" alignment="center[/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It’s been a hectic ride for The Big Moon from the get go. It’s no wonder they don’t spend much time thinking about early teething problems when there are so many good things to focus on. They’ve played Brixton Academy five times alongside The Vaccines and The Maccabees, and there have been triumphant-come-teary shows at Glastonbury. “We all came offstage on top of the world and all our friends were standing in a line crying,” starts Jules. “We had a lot of little cries,” adds Celia. “It was a mixture of an emotional moment and everyone was really hungover. I like to think it was our sweet, sweet melodious sounds that brought everyone to their knees though.”

As good as things have got, you can comfortably put your money on things getting better. There’s a big ol’ headline tour in November (or ‘Tourtoise’, for some brilliant reason) that sees the band headline Scala - much to Soph’s annoyance, who’s disappointed she hasn’t got the chance to tick off ‘support a band at the Scala’ from her bucket list - as well as a debut album very much in the works. “I don’t daydream very far into the future,” explains Soph, “but I hope that it goes far.”

“It’s really hard to imagine,” adds Celia. “Everything that happens feels sorta surprising. Our manager says this might happen or this will happen and then you think maybe, if stuff keeps going well but it can’t keep going well all the time. And then it just does.” It’s been constant, unburdened fun for the duration, and while they realise that as the band grows and gets more in demand, the fun might suffer, there’s the belief “I don’t think it could ever get that bad.”

Seeing a reaction from that first ‘Eureka Moment’ hasn’t left the band expecting one. “Even now, we put our new video up yesterday and we’ve got this whole thing behind us which is our label, our team and connections with other things, you know all of that’s going to happen, but it still feels like you’re sending this thing out into the ether. The idea that anyone’s going to see it is so mental,” explains Soph, wide-eyed. “It’s amazing how it doesn’t get completely camouflaged by everything else that’s on the internet,” furthers Jules, with Celia adding: “I cant process it, it’s like when your mum gives you a compliment.”

“But it’s encouraging,” they all agree, apart from Fern who has gone from writing everyone’s name on a piece of paper to starting a limerick. “There once was a man from blank,” starts Jules, reading the work in progress before the band start chipping in with ideas. “Where are you from?” “Why have you written ponies?” “There once was a man from Ponies…” “That’s not a real place.” “Who interviewed the Big Moon girlies.” “Wheeeeey!” “Though I don’t like the word girlies.” “Yeah, me neither.” And that’s as far as it gets. Onto the next thing.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width="stretch_row[vc_column][vc_single_image image="5137" img_size="full" alignment="center[/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]“It doesn’t feel the same, it feels closer and stronger,” continues Jules, somehow picking up where she left off. “I feel like us four are glued together, in a good way.” That tightly-knit group dynamic allows The Big Moon to run havoc on record. Tumbling over one another yet allowing each and every part to shine, across the band’s handful of releases The Big Moon have refused to do the expected. Playful and twirling, each glimpse into their world has been brief but affecting.

“I still always feel when I’m writing songs that I don’t really know how to do it, even though I do,” starts Jules. “I must do but there’s no system. Whatever happens, just happens and you have to be okay with it. All the songs come together in different ways. Some of them I’ll write every part and be really specific with it. ‘You’ve got to do it like this, please’,” she begs as the others start cracking up at the accuracy of her own caricature. “And sometimes they’re more simple, it’s just chords and singing and we’ll work it out together. ‘Sucker’ was like that. And ‘Cupid’. And ‘Silent Movie Susie’. And ‘Nothing Without You’. As time goes on, I write less and less fussily. I wrote a little pile of songs before I found the band, because I didn’t want to start a band, I wanted to do what Celia did which is just walk into one but I couldn’t find one, so I just pretended I had a band on my computer and made up all the bits. And now we are a band, I don’t need to make up all the bits, because you guys can make up all the bits, which is really good. Phew.”

“But you’re so good at it. I love it when you make up all the bits,” begins Celia. “You’ve got great bits.”

Taking the fractured shards of reality and piecing them together to create a kaleidoscopic view of the everyday, The Big Moon will have you twisting this way and that, lost in the beauty and amazement that they see in everything. “It’s mostly stuff from real life,” continues Jules. “Some older stuff is a bit more nonsensey because I’m really into Pixes and I remember seeing this documentary where someone asked Frank Black what his lyrics mean, and he was like, ‘Nah, it’s just meant to be random words. I don’t want my lyrics to mean anything’, and I was like, ‘Cool, I don’t have to bother’. But some of them are a lot more specific, some of them are about other people, some of them are stories. There are all kinds of things, but it’s mostly real life and stuff that’s happened to me.”

"pull" text="'Us four are glued together... in a good way


From ‘Cupid’’s nod to the ‘benefits’ of injesting pineapple juice and Tropical Rubicon, through ‘Nothing Without You’’s shrugging off of the myth that dogs can’t look up, to ‘Silent Movie Susie’ (“That song is about my nipple. It’s about the time I lost sensitivity in one of my nipples and I really needed it to come back. That’s actually what it’s about. I told you all the songs were about real things”), The Big Moon take the unseen everyday and make it shine, as only they could. With so many amazing things out there, there’s no time for sad songs. Not even with a full-length to play with.

“I was talking about his with Catherine, our producer, yesterday,” starts Jules. “She asked are there any sad songs on the album and I was like, yeah. Obviously. Then we all thought about it and actually, no. There’s one very sexy one, but there aren’t any sad ones,” she continues, as Fern leans over to ask which one is the sexy one. “I’m not going to tell you, you’ll work it out.”

“You were saying it’s because you think sad songs are easy to write,” pokes Celia. “Yeah, so I deliberately avoid it, without meaning to,” explains Jules before pausing. “Wait, that’s not possible.”

“You see the good in things,” offers Soph, as Celia adds: “You’re a positive person. Double thumbs up.”

“I think it is much easier to write sad songs. Anyone can sit at the piano, play a b minor and cry,” says Jules, complete with demonstration. “And then a long guitar solo that’s really sad. Boring,” she yawns.

“She’s just making it really difficult for herself,” says Soph.

“I do think we sometimes go cheese though, but that’s fine. We’re all into Magic FM, so cheese it is,” Jules continues before shouting Fern’s name as she screws up a piece of paper and throws it in the bin. “What was that,” she demands. “You just destroyed memories, where’s the limerick?”

“There,” replies Fern, banging the desk next to her.

“I thought you scrunched up my heart then,” sighs Soph.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width="stretch_row[vc_column][vc_video link="
" align="center[/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Across the courtyard is the studio where The Big Moon are currently recording their debut album. The room is littered with Hawaiian leis, bags of treat size Mars Bars, Milky Buttons and Maltesers and roll on deodorant. Fairy lights adorn every room the band occupy and there’s both an inflatable monkey and palm tree hanging from the roof, while more blow-up foliage lies in the middle of the room. On his way into work, one of the studio’s team pops into the post office and is asked where he’s going on holiday, such is the tropical garishness of his shirt. He was wearing a similarly colourful number yesterday. It’s all for the atmosphere. At the mention of their debut album, the whole room makes a noise that’s too excited for mere letters to be able to replicate it.

“It’s going so well,” beams Jules. “I’m really excited about it now. I was excited about it before but now we’re actually doing it and I’m having a nice time while we’re doing it. It’s really cool. It’s starting to feel like a thing.” Returning to Catherine J. Marks who did the band’s previous two singles as well as Wolf Alice’s ‘Creature Smiles’ and Foals’ ‘Holy Fire’, the band feel comfortable about this next step. The variety that’s skated through their releases so far is still present, “but with something threading it through, which is us.”

“We’ve had loads of songs for so long and now we’ve got a very short window of time to get it all done,” starts Soph. “It feels weirdly like it’s been forever in the lead up to it but also that we have no time, which is quite good because we’re having to make decisions. Otherwise it could go on forever. To be in with a producer we like and think is great eliminates any extra worries, because she’s going to make us sound how we want. That’s a big thing to worry about, but she’s cool.”

“I don’t find it daunting because I’m so eager to do it,” offers Jules. “We’ve been waiting for what feels like ages and ages, we’ve just been sitting on these songs so it’ll be nice to have a snapshot of all the things we do now. Plus, it doesn’t feel like it’s quick at all ‘cause we started so quickly after we formed. It feels like ages. We’ve been playing these songs for such a long time now, it really felt like if we waited any longer, the songs might go a bit stale or something. I’m just impatient. It doesn’t feel immature though. We’ve done enough, we’ve recorded enough stuff, we’ve demoed enough stuff and played together that we know what we want to sound like. We’ve got all of the things that we want. It feels obvious what it’s meant to be like. It’s like a child drawing a picture of their mummy. They know they have a face and a body and legs and feet and giant hands and a triangle dress, lipstick and loads of eyelashes… I can’t remember what my point was.”

“I feel confident in the songs and confident in the way that we’re doing it,” summaries Celia. “It’s a really good time to do it.”

“I want to make some songs that make people really happy,” offers Jules, stepping back. “A lot of time when we’re in the van, we listen to The Blue Album by Weezer and it always makes me feel really, really good. I want other people to listen to our album and feel like that about it.”

“It’s the same with our live show. I want people to enjoy it,” finishes Soph. “It’s just the best feeling when you’re at a gig and you just love it.”

If there’s one thing this band know how to do, it’s make you love them to the moon and back.
"stopper

The Big Moon’s single ‘Silent Movie Susie’ is out 23rd September. Taken from the September issue of Dork - order a copy now.


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