The Big Moon are a four-piece band hailing from London, made up of Juliette Jackson, Soph Nathan, Celia Archer and Fern Ford, who all love to make vibrant, energizing noise with their garage guitars, rock drums and a searing vocal lead. Since The Indie Curator discovered this promising quartet over a year ago, The Big Moon have released a breakthrough EP titled The Road and have more recently followed up with tracks “Something Beautiful” and hit single “Cupid”.
Breaking away from the group backstage at The Great Escape, the band’s frontwoman Juliette and I borrow Jagwar Ma’s dressing room for a chat about why she wanted to put a band together, the chemistry between the four Mooners and what their plans for the rest of the year are.
Can you introduce yourself, your role in the band and what you would be doing if you hadn’t followed the music path?
My name is Juliette. I sing and play guitar and honestly if I wasn’t in a band, I would probably be working in a pub because I don’t really have any proper qualifications. I might try to go to university or be waitress or something and probably be really miserable about it.
How did you get started in music?
I was just really desperate to do it. I kind of ran around looking for people to join a band with me and I started writing songs. If it was the old-fashioned way I would have put up a poster in a guitar shop, but I just put a post up on Facebook and asked my friends. I was like, “anyone know anyone who might want to be in a band? With me? If I write some songs?” None of my friends did [laughs], but they had friends who did! We’re all friends of friends.
That’s cool! When you all did meet, was there a eureka moment as the song suggests or was it more of a gradual realisation that you were going to make music together?
Well, there were lots of different people that I met to play music with, but then the four of us were finally together. At first it was just me and Fern, and then Soph joined, and when Celia came along it felt immediately like she was the last piece of the puzzle. I cried a little bit.
I was reading about your first session together and that it was really emotional.
Yeah, it was just really exciting! I’d written four songs or something in my bedroom and it was really exciting to hear them played really loud with other people, so yeah, I got a bit emotional.
“I’d written four songs or something in my bedroom and it was really exciting to hear them played really loud with other people, so yeah, I got a bit emotional.”
Obviously, you started the band, but do you still take control over what it sounds like or is it more of a collaborative process now?
It’s a lot more collaborative now, although I still write the bones of the songs. Well, it varies, because sometimes I’m really specific and will write all the parts and be like, “you have to play the bassline like this!” More and more now I’m just like, “here’s a song, I’ve done words and I’ve got chords and we can make this into something,” which is really nice. It’s sort of as we’ve got to know each other better. Everything happened really quickly after we all met. We got together, rehearsed for like two weeks, we had about five songs, we did our first gig and then we recorded a demo. Once we uploaded that demo online everything went… [makes what I only can describe as a rocket noise.] We’ve only been together for like a year and a half.
It really did blow up very quickly.
Yeah, it was really surprising!
I really love your song “Cupid” with the awesome music video, that must have been pretty fun to make?
It was so much fun! It was terrifying, but really fun. We could only make a mess once and the beginning of the video is really clean and tidy, so the first chorus where the first paint bomb hits me and then loads of shit starts going crazy, we only had one chance to do that. None of knew what it feels like to get covered in paint and flour while playing instruments, so I was just thinking, “got to do it right, got to do it right!” My heart was beating and I was physically shaking, because I really didn’t want to get it wrong, so no matter what it felt like, I just had to keep playing! Louis [Bhose], the director, who was going to throw the first missile at me, he did it twice and he threw it and it was this big, tense moment and it just didn’t explode! [laughs] So it was like, “[gasp] False alarm. [gasp] False alarm again!” Then it finally worked. Yeah, it was so much fun.
That’s one thing that really comes across with your music, is that it’s fun, break free, let loose kind of music. Was that something you set out to do when you first wrote the songs?
I wanted to start a band because I knew it would be fun, but also partly because playing guitar is the only thing that I can really do, so I could either try really hard at that or carry on being a waitress forever. I wanted to have a gang of friends and go around causing havoc, like The Spice Girls. I just wanted to be like The Spice Girls basically. We had a proper Spice Girls moment yesterday actually. I was driving the van to Brighton and all the girls were sat in the back, then I saw someone we knew out of the window and I started beeping and we all rolled down the windows and started going “hey! hi! hi!” I so nearly crashed into someone! [laughs] It was like laughter and then shock as I swerved out of the way of another car. Yeah… it was funny, but also really bad.
You guys clearly have that really fun side, or what I’m going to start calling your Spice Girls side, but I would say one of your more serious songs is “The Road”, which to me sounds like a contemplation of life and possibly a break-up thrown in there. What is that track about?
“The Road” is like that feeling you have at the end of a party. I don’t know if you’ve ever found yourself at a party at like seven in the morning and everyone wants to carry on going and you feel like shit and you know that you’re not doing very good things to yourself. I just felt like I was in a really bad place and I was with someone and I realised that I had to stop seeing this person and I had to stop hanging out with these people because it was really, really bad for me. It was just that feeling at the end of a party where everything is really crap and you don’t why you’re still hanging around and why you’re with those people. I was just like “I’m not having fun anymore, I’m just not having fun.”
That sounds like a huge revelation. Is there anything else that inspires your music?
Everything really. I’ve been writing a lot of love songs lately because I’m very in love. I also like trying to shoehorn really mundane things into songs. I like the disconnection between what you show on the outside of yourself and what you’re thinking in your mind. You could be feeling extremely emotional, really sad or really happy about something, but at the same time you’re in a supermarket doing your weekly shop. There’s all this stuff bubbling underneath but everything around you is just boring and normal.
You’re all currently based in London, but in an era of increased online living, do you think it really matters where you’re based anymore?
I think if you live somewhere like London you have the benefit of there being loads of places to play music. If you’re from a really small town where there’s nowhere to play gigs, then you can’t really be in a band, unless you did it in your house or something. London is so… I hate it, I mean I love it and I hate it. It fucks you over everyday, it’s so expensive. Yeah, I think you’re right, anyone can record anything anywhere and if you’ve got a computer you can put your music online and everyone can hear it. When we put our first song online, everything exploded, and we’d only done three shows or something. I’m really not convinced that it was the shows that we played that led to people paying attention to the song online. I don’t know what caused that.
I guess it was all the online coverage, that seemed to happened almost instantly.
Yeah, like DIY. Bloggers and people sharing the music.
I was actually reading the interview that you did with DIY and you said that it felt like everyone jumped on the “female brand”. Do you find it annoying when people point out the fact that you’re a band made up of four women?
I don’t really find it annoying, because it’s true! It doesn’t really bother me. For me, being a woman in a band, I’ve never felt persecuted. I know we’re a minority, but personally it’s never felt weird. No one has ever being weird about it, maybe that’s because times have changed a lot and I know loads of girls in bands and it’s not unusual at all. I just don’t think it’s a thing anymore. A lot of people ask us the question “do you people treat you differently?”, but it’s always like “no!” I’m a middle-class, white girl in a band and I’m privileged enough to be able to play music for a living. Everything’s great, you know?
“For me, being a woman in a band, I’ve never felt persecuted. I know we’re a minority, but personally it’s never felt weird.”
I was literally going to go on say, do you think anything needs to change in regards to how the music industry treats women? I guess you’re already saying that it’s come such a long way.
We’re still a minority, but I just think it’s not really a point anymore. If you don’t make a point of it, then it isn’t an issue and I think more and more women now play music.
I think it’s because of bands like yourself that get up there and do it and show that it can be done.
Yeah! We’re on the stage and we’re just playing. We are girls, but so what?! No big deal. It’s just not an issue.
You guys wrapped up your tour last month, how was that? Was there a particular standout show?
Yes, we had an amazing show in Hull. We’ve never played there before and it was pretty great! There were loads of boys ripping off their t-shirts and throwing them at us. They had a circle pit and crowd surfers, it was amazing. We also played the 100 Club in London, which is a legendary venue and there’s loads of pictures on the walls of bands like The Sex Pistols. We sold out 100 Club, which is ridiculous! That was a bit of a dream come true.
If you could share a stage with anyone who would it be?
Oh my god… I really want to say Jarvis Cocker, because if I could do a duet with someone, I would love to sing a song with him. Literally sharing a stage with him! Standing next to him, with a microphone each, starting into each other’s eyes and singing a song - I’d enjoy that. We’ve done loads of shows with bands that I love already, like The Maccabees and Ezra Fermin who is a total genius. A lot of the bands that I really love don’t really play anymore, like The Pixies and The White Stripes.
Do you have a favourite song to play live?
Erm… that changes all the time. At the moment, maybe “Cupid”, it’s really satisfying to play. “The Road” is also really good. I love playing “Sucker”, because we always do it last, so it’s like the home-straight and it’s really easy to sing, so I just enjoy it.
Last question and then I’ll let you go, what does the rest of the year have in store for The Big Moon?
This year we’re going to do more touring in the autumn. We’re going to do loads of festivals, bazillions of festivals, which is great because I love those! We’re going to record an album in summer, although we don’t know where or how, but we’re going to do it. That’s the thing that I’m most excited about is recording that, because we’ve only been together a year and a half, but that whole time we’ve been touring. It feels like other bands that started at the same time as us have already put out albums. It’s not a competition, obviously. We’ve been playing these songs for a while and I’m really eager to record them while they’re still fresh. If we keep touring, then what if we get bored of playing them? or we go to record them and we can’t inject any excitement into them? Yeah, we’re going to do it soon.