The Big Moon: "Why do something boring?”
Down with boring.
Published: 9:48 am, April 03, 2017
The Big Moon are anti-boring. They say "exciting" a lot. It's not surprising then that more than simple fun, the band's debut album ‘Love In The 4th Dimension', resists the expected at every turn. Recorded surrounded by Hawaiian shirts and inflatables, it refuses to take itself too seriously. "Why do something boring when you can do something interesting, weird or silly," reasons Celia Archer. "Weird is good," agrees Jules Jackson. "We definitely wanted it to sound weird."
When the band first recorded ‘Sucker', they were all pretty new to each other. When it came to adding some background yells, Soph, put on the spot and unsure, shouted "I'm too shy." A lot can change in a few years though. Now, on the opening track to their debut, she yells, "I'm not shy anymore." None of the band are. There's an ease and a freedom to their gang that can be felt in every nook of ‘4th Dimension'. "There's definitely stuff on there that people won't have heard us do before, which is exciting," promises Jules. They spent twenty minutes jumping on a big box for ‘Bonfire'. There are tummy slaps, tapping thighs, wolf howls, a triangle played with a pillow, megaphones and at one point someone shouts "give it to me!" "See if you can find that," they grin. ‘Bonfire' also features a blown raspberry/vocal warm up that was supposed to be a drum roll, but Jules just started singing along. "There's a lot of singing along," she offers. "I sing to most of the guitar solos as well, if you listen carefully."
"But it's a good thing when the lyrics stop but you carry on singing the guitar line. That's a good song!" adds Celia, before singing that bit from ‘Seven Nation Army'. "There's lots to pick apart," continues Jules. "You can just eat it all up in one go and enjoy it but if you want to get into the headphone zone, there are lots of little things you can find and get excited by." The record captures The Big Moon perfectly: interesting, weird and silly.
"You know where that line is though," ventures Celia. "Do we need five wolf howls in the space of ten seconds? Maybe not. We don't take ourselves too seriously, but we are serious about things that are important. Sometimes some things that are really serious need to be treated like they're silly or weird, y'know? Sometimes you have to laugh in the face of things that or hard or have fun despite them. Life's too short, but that doesn't mean we don't know what's going on or we don't take stuff seriously. We went to the protests after [Donald] Trump's Muslim Ban, we went to Downing Street and yelled, and then the next day I went to the cabaret night at the Vauxhall Tavern, Bar Wotever. This bar, full of people on a Tuesday night, are paying money to watch all these incredible people just be weird, out there and making themselves vulnerable or showing their amazing skills. That made me feel way more okay about everything. I felt like the world's alright, you know? Everything is going to be okay now, because all these people care about these things and still want to enjoy them. Even with all the shit that's going on, these people still want to come together. It's great. I love that."
"Life is very serious, but music doesn't have to be," adds Jules, with Soph offering: "It's a break from reality really, especially the kind of music we make."
"You listen to music as an escape, and we all probably play music as an escape and people go to gigs to let their hair down and not really act like a normal human being. It's a different dimension."
' frameborder='0' allowfullscreen>
Recorded in an intense twelve-day period, making ‘Love In The 4th Dimension' was never stressful. "Everything made sense. We didn't have that much time but we had enough time to record all the songs as we play them live and then add loads of cool extra shit." There's a spontaneity to it. "We wanted to keep in those little accidents, like if someone dropped a tambourine or coughed." It's not polished but that's the point. Instead, it's packed with personality.
Over the past few years The Big Moon have discovered exactly what sort of band they want to be. "We found our sound. We toured these songs for two years before we recorded them. And we recorded in loads of different ways and in loads of different places and did singles and things and by the time it came round to recording the album, we knew exactly what we wanted it to sound like." Full of individual swagger, "It's got lots of different faces and moods but it's cohesive as well. It all sounds like us, and it sounds like us when we play together. It's not this different thing. It is just the way we sound when we play our instruments in our practice room. I'm sorry, I should probably make it sound more exciting than that."
"No, that gave me lots of feelings when you said that," offers Celia. "So, whatever. It is what we set out to do, without even setting out to do anything. We just knew what we wanted to do. We all came to the same decision, I don't know if you noticed, but that's something we do."
Sat in an Oxford noodle bar before their first gig of the year, the band have been on holiday ("We got as far away from each other as we could"), but there's no disconnect. The Big Moon, by chance, order four of the same. "We're still as in tune as ever, even though we've been apart from each other, in different corners of the world. We're still very much a team."
Conversation turns to the best way to eat Miso soup (drink or spoon) and Fern's new game of Guess What I'm Air-Drumming before Celia explains, "You should ask us some more questions, otherwise we're just going to ramble." It's all too easy to get caught up in their world. Which is exactly where they want you.
Full of possibility and fully immersive, ‘Love In The 4th Dimension' is named after one of the songs on the album, "which is about being so in love, you feel like you've gone to another level and you're not even in your own body anymore. I was very in love," explains Jules, before quickly adding: "I still am. It goes along with that idea of escape." It's fantastical but never far-fetched. The cover for the record has the band in a bedroom with loads of stars and while "it looks like another world," it's the comfort of home. Her bedroom is where Jules wrote most of the songs for the record. It's also where the band chased their own escape.
"You might be in your room listening to music but then you're transported to this place full of exciting possibilities," continues Celia. "That's what happened with us. We used to sit in our rooms, listen to music, sing along and try to play the songs we liked on the radio. We'd tape them, save up money and go to record shops, buy things then take them home and make mix CDs. Now we're part of the world we used to escape into. We're contributing to it," she beams. They find the idea that their album will be in shops, that people will listen to it on the way to work, that somewhere their name might be on a plastic divider exciting and crazy. "So, we're in this other dimension thing, but it's also our real life," explains Jules.
The Big Moon thrive off of the possibility of pure imagination. Ask Jules what inspired ‘Bonfire', a smirking, weird and absolute banger of a track and before she can answer, Celia echoes, "Yeah, what is that song about?" With a smile as she says it, Jules offers nothing. "I'm not going to tell you."
"It's a mystery to us," Celia shrugs. "I'm going to start writing down what I think the lyrics are about so when someone asks Jules, we can just tell them what we think they're about and Jules just never has to say anything."
"I don't always like telling, I usually tell you guys, but I don't like telling what the songs are about because when you're listening, you're wondering and maybe you've got some idea in your head about what you think it's about, and I don't want to tell you what it's really about, because then that will go away. It's like when you read a story, you think a character looks a certain way in your head, then you see the film of the book and forever, when you read that book again, the character looks like Emma Watson. I'm not going to tell you because then the songs will sound like Emma Watson."
The Big Moon still don't do sad songs. That doesn't mean ‘Love In The 4th Dimension' doesn't do emotion. "There's feeling in it, even if it's not super sad," offers Soph. Instead the band's debut celebrates love. Getting caught up in the moment without asking questions or searching for an explanation, it's a record about romance and friendship. "Jules is a very positive person, we all rub off on each other and we've all got a certain amount of energy. It bounces off one another and becomes this really powerful energy. We didn't even discuss it in that much depth, because it just figured itself out really.
"What I really like about Jules' songs is that, even when they're vulnerable like ‘Sucker', ‘Nothing Without You' or ‘Pull The Other One', they're never weak. You're never feel sorry for the person in the song. You're never thinking, ‘Awh, babe'. It's the same when you're listening to Etta James, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin or any of those soulful women. Even when they're singing songs that are so heartbreaking, she's still the one singing the song. It's not all about you being the greatest person in the world at all times and everyone loving you because you're a rock star." Even when the songs are dealing with situations that aren't perfect, "there's so much strength in them and it makes you feel joyous and strong singing them. It feels powerful to play them."
"You know when you listen to ‘London Calling' by The Clash, and it makes you walk with more authority? I want that to happen," offers Jules. "I want people to feel empowered and bold when they listen to this album. I think it's exactly what we wanted it to be. It's perfect."
The Big Moon’s debut album ‘Love In The 4th Dimension' is out 7th April.