“We are in LA, West Hollywood,” gloats The Big Moon’s leader and vocalist, Juliette Jackson, somewhat incredulously. Clash have caught the London-based quartet on the final leg of their US tour supporting The Japanese House, and as we converse over Skype - us huddled by a radiator with rain pounding on the window; them relishing the opulence of their Californian hospitality - it’s clear they’re very aware of their fortunes.
“We just popped out in LA and it’s really nice and sunny and warm. It feels great,” she continues. “Feels like payback for all of the hours stuck sat in a van. It’s like, ‘Here you go! Here’s some sunshine - you earned it.’”
The band, who this summer signed to Fiction Records, have left in their wake a trail of memorable live appearances at gigs and festivals - on their own, and with The Maccabees, The Vaccines, and Ezra Furman - throughout a tireless 2016, and released a string of spiky indie singles, yet still question their increasing popularity, which has now spread across the Atlantic.
“I find it amazing that anyone over here knows who we are,” Juliette says. “At all of the shows there’s always been at least a couple of people who’ve been like, ‘We love you guys, we love your music, it’s really cool that you came over here.’ It’s just really baffling. It’s like, ‘How do you know? How did you find us? How did it reach over here?’”
For bassist Celia Archer, it’s the journey of their songs that’s proving most staggering - having been written alone by Jackson in her bedroom, they’re now reaching the hearts and affecting the lives of a growing international fanbase. “You’re like, ‘Wow!’” she reflects. “That’s insane.”
Given the sparkling energy that radiates through the likes of ‘Sucker’, ‘Silent Movie Susie’ and latest single ‘Formidable’, songs made all the more forceful by the girls’ combined might and caustic edge, one struggles to envision them having the same impact if released in their original bedroom form. “I was only ever writing songs with the intention of playing them with a band,” Juliette affirms. “I can’t imagine playing by myself. It would be too scary. When I started trying to write songs it was because I wanted to be in a band, and I couldn’t find a band to join so I thought I’ll have to just start one. I was always writing songs with the intention of finding people to fill in the gaps.”
Seeking out comrades through friends of friends, Juliette eventually sourced three like-minded musicians - Celia, drummer Fern Ford, and guitarist Soph Nathan - and cried tears of joy and relief during their first rehearsal together. “I think you just know when it’s right,” Juliette states. “It’s like when you meet someone; you know whether you can be friends pretty much straight away. It’s just a wavelength thing. I think being pals is way more important to me than being good at playing any instruments.”
“Yeah,” Celia concurs, “You can learn how to get better at your instrument but you can’t learn how to not be a dick.”
Their natural gang mentality is palpable. In conversation, they overlap and finish each other’s sentences. In addition to sharing similar thoughts and ideas, they’re also beginning to dress the same. “We shop in the same shops and we eat the same food and we listen to the same music in the van,” Juliette points out. “It’s like, surely there’s some kind of body chemistry happening where we’re all absorbing the same ingredients and therefore just morphing into the same thing.”
“We’re all becoming the same cake,” Celia laughs.
That bond is visible in the band’s most notable videos, which evoke a strong sense of unity and a common streak of playfulness. For ‘Cupid’, they’re pelted with paint bombs, and showered in powder, glitter and confetti, yet defiantly rock regardless. Donning sports gear for ‘Nothing Without You’, they audition a choreographed ribbon dance routine for three stone-faced judges. Rehearsing their moves in the director’s parents’ house, the girls made up their own routine.
“We just did what came naturally,” Juliette reveals. “Our moves are really just what we do with ribbons. No one is forcing anything. We just held the ribbon and channeled it. It was a very natural expression. We became one with the ribbon.”
“It is actually strangely hard to manoeuvre,” Fern admits. “It looks easy but it is not.”
“There were so many times that we got tangled up with each other,” Celia laughs. “But yeah, it was fun. That was probably one of my favourite videos to make. We also all realised how unfit we all were at the end of the day.”
“When we do videos we always drink Bucks Fizz in the morning, just for vibes, and just because it’s fun,” Juliette confesses. “With the ribbon dancing video, we drank the Bucks Fizz and then I suddenly found it very difficult to do physical movement. Jumping up and down, I felt very red and hot.”
Christmas will offer the group some respite from each other (though maybe not from Bucks Fizz) as they disperse to travel around different corners of the globe, but work will resume with a packed schedule for 2017 ahead of the release of their debut album, ‘Love In The 4th Dimension’ on April 7th. The record is “a good mix of stuff that some people would have heard before and some that they won’t,” promises Celia.
It will be followed that month by a UK and European tour, which means more grueling van time for The Big Moon, whose dedication to the cause is impervious to such hardships. “There is no way you could do it if this wasn’t what you really wanted to do and you weren’t having fun with the people that you were with and didn’t care about it,” Juliette attests. “No one is in a band for the money; everyone is just doing it for the passion of it.”
“If I have an afternoon where I get a bit grouchy, it’s never that bad,” she adds. “I just always remember all the years I spent waitressing and working in pubs and it’s like, ‘This is not that bad. This is actually really great.’
The Big Moon’s debut album, ‘Love In The 4th Dimension’, is available to pre-order now.
- - -
Words: Simon Harper
Photography: Charlotte Patmore