The Big Moon:
All Friends Here
“The Breeders, wasn’t it?”
Lead guitarist Sophie Nathan is trying to recall the one artist that every member of The Big Moon can agree on. “I still haven’t listened to The Breeders, apart from that one song,” drummer Fern Ford admits. “Yeah, we all said The Breeders, but Fern said she didn’t know them,” verifies frontwoman Juliette Jackson, causing bassist Celia Archer to exclaim in mock-horror, “Oh shit!” “Oh yeah! And then she started dancing to Tom Jones,” recalls Sophie. All four burst out laughing. “We all like Mellow Magic?” Celia offers.
Considering the four of them only met a couple of years ago, The Big Moon are incredibly tight-knit. Over the course of our conversation, they’re constantly completing – and murmuring approval to – each other’s answers, riffing off each other’s jokes, and simultaneously exploding into laughter. In 50 minutes, there are only three differences of opinion. The first regards Zayn Malik’s morals (Juliette reckons “if you went out with him, he wouldn’t be faithful,” while Fern insists he seems like “a really nice lad”), the second surrounds their favourite motorway services (three quarters of the band rate Tebay, but Juliette declares its lack of Greggs “fucking bullshit”) and the third stems from the loan of a cerulean Hawaiian shirt: a vintage find and a dead-ringer for the Miu Miu number Leonardo DiCaprio wore in Romeo + Juliet.
It’s this easy chemistry that makes the quartet such a fun live proposition. Where other hyped young guitar bands might view a booking at London’s 100 Club as an excuse to ham up cooler-than-thou posturing, The Big Moon walk on to Millennium by Robbie Williams, and spend the show bouncing around the fairy light-strewn stage, trading quips and teaching the audience breathing techniques. As Sophie explains, “We want people to be a part of it,” and Juliette echoes her sentiments, “The last thing that we want to be is intimidating.” Their energy is infectious too, as evidenced by the youthful, largely-male front rows – who bellow back Cupid’s “Sorry I’m not your guy” chorus – and the platinum-haired teenager who clambers onstage to dance along to set-closer Sucker. “She was super-cool!” Juliette exclaims, “Really glittery, like a My Little Pony.” “I was like, man, you’re doing a better job of owning this stage than I am,” concurs Celia.
Stage invasions have been a regular fixture of the band’s first headline tour. “In Hull, it got a little bit rowdy, just teenagers who wanted to get fucked up,” recalls Fern. “But there was this one kid, just stood in front of my drum kit with his arms outstretched, signaling, ‘I got you, don’t worry.’ I was just like, ‘Thanks man…’ I have an NVQ2 in ‘Spectator Safety’, which is why I take these things very seriously,” she jokes, and Juliette retorts with a laugh, “Which is also why we wanted her in the band.”
Juliette formed the group while waitressing in London. “It was leading to nothing, and the only other thing I could really do was play the guitar, so I was like, ‘Maybe I should try to start a band and be a rock star!’” she laughs. “I started asking everyone I knew if they knew anyone who might want to be in a band with me, and desperately tried to work out how to write songs.” There was no vision for the band as such, and her only recruitment criteria was “people that I could drink beer with.”
“I didn’t want a situation where anyone got bossed around or bullied,” she elaborates. “I’ve been in bands where there’s a leader, and whenever you write a song or do something creative, you’ll just get shut off. Or someone will tell you that you’re rubbish at your instrument, or crap at singing, or you’ve got no sense of timing, and then you’re like, ‘Oh, maybe I am crap!’” Sophie agrees, “It makes such a difference to have people around you who encourage you.”
Juliette’s songwriting is thriving in this supportive environment, and the band’s output so far ranges from the frenetic, punk-y Eureka Moment to anthemic indie-pop like Nothing Without You and latest single Cupid. When I meet with the band, they’ve just finished making a video for the latter, which involved inviting friends to take aim at them with paint-filled Super Soakers and glitter, in a dank Dalston basement usually hired out as a film set for crack dens and torture scenes. As Fern puts it, “bad things have definitely happened there.”
The song itself is sung from the perspective of a young man preparing for a night on the pull, and lyrically it showcases Juliette’s penchant for pairing romance with “really mundane”, everyday detail. It’s also become vaguely notorious for the line, “Pineapple juice / Tropical Rubicon courage,” which is, in fact, about the practice of men drinking pineapple juice to try and make their cum taste nice. “But that’s quite a sweet gesture if you think about it,” Celia jokes. “Literally, sweet.”
Following two singles via Father/Daughter records, and an immediate wave of hype, there was something of a scrum to sign them, resulting in what Juliette describes, with a cackle, as “a good month or so where people were buying us dinners quite regularly.” Fiction Records won out in the end. “They didn’t put any pressure on,” explains Juliette. “I remember one of the guys saying, ‘You can be as big as you want to be. We’ll support you in whatever you do.’” And how did the quartet reply? “I think the word was ‘Beyoncé…’” Fern retorts, and all four shriek with laughter. “You can only really write the songs that you’re ever going to write,” Juliette adds, pragmatically, “But it’s nice we have the freedom to do what we want to do.”
“It makes such a difference to have people around you who encourage you”
The Big Moon’s immediate plans include a few live dates in France, a string of festival engagements, and – at some point – taking time out from touring to record their debut album. “I’m so eager to do it now!” Juliette wails. “We’ve got loads of songs. We’re just working out how we’re going to record them, which ones to record, who to record them with, and when to do it. But I’m so impatient.” So what about longer-term goals?
“To have our own practice room,” Fern groans. “So we don’t have to share it with another band who tells us off for putting the lights on.” “There’s more though,” Juliette continues, “I want my mum to be able to tell her friends that her daughter’s in a band, and for them to maybe have heard of us. I suppose I’d just like people to take the songs to their hearts, and sing along to them when they come on in the car. Or if they got played on Mellow Magic in ten years time,” she exclaims with an exaggerated gasp. “That’s it! We just want to be on Magic FM.”