I and Sidney Davies, lucky little chickens that we are, got a sneaky interview and our names on the guest list for The Big Moon's show at The Loft in Southampton on October 17th 2017. With an unsurprising amount of sold-out shows, the last three gigs on their UK tour for their new album, "Love in The Fourth Dimension", looked like a home run. We checked in with Jules Jackson (lead singer) and Celia Archer (bassist) to see how the (indie) rockstar lifestyle was treating them.
So you’ve got three gigs left, you’re really close to finishing the whole tour, how are you doing? Any highlights in particular?
Jules: We’re all pooped. BUT. It’s been one of the best tours we’ve ever done. It’s been mostly sold out which is amazing, it makes everything worthwhile.
Celia: Has it been a month already?
Jules: Yeah! We’ve been to lots of places that we’ve never been that have been really surprisingly lovely like Hebden Bridge.
Celia: Norwich was really lovely and also one of my favourite shows I think. Partly because our backdrop looked the best.
Jules: We’ve got this big glow in the dark moon that we hang behind us at shows. Although, we’re not sticking it up tonight because…
Celia: We’re pooped!
Jules: We’re lazy. But also because there are some lights behind the stage so we’d be covering them up.
Celia: It’s a little column A, a little column B…
Jules: But it’s really cool because it’s invisible until you shine a UV light on it and then it glows. It’s painted by ours and Amie’s mutual friend, Phoebe so the world is smaller and smaller.
Celia: She also built the room that we were in on the cover of our album. Another friend made the pattern and printed it out on the fabric and then Phoebe built the room. It was really cool.
Jules: As for the tour, it’s been great.
The way you sing about romance; You’re not Disney washing love but you’re not aggressively Avril Lavigne-ing it either. Was that something you were conscious of when you were putting the tracks together?
Jules: We’re always conscious of Avril Lavigne. Big fans. (to Celia) That was in one of your life-changing albums, wasn’t it?
Celia: Yeah, I wrote a piece for Australia's Music Feeds about my life-changing albums (click here).
Jules: I think when you write songs, if you go into it with an idea of what you want, you might not do anything, do you know what I mean? You kind of have to let it all just happen quite naturally and if you start thinking “I want it to sound exactly like this” then it doesn’t sound like that and you’re gonna feel like a failure so it has to be like “whatever comes out, comes out” then you kind of nurture it. You play together and then it changes and gets better and better and better and eventually it does sound good.
Britt: So a lot of redrafting and saying “Okay. This sucks. Bear with me”.
Jules: Yeah, like it might suck for a bit but then you work on it and it sucks less and you work on it and it sucks less.
Celia: It’s mostly those things. Jules being like “Can we try this drumbeat?” and Fern doing it and then Jules being like “Can we add like a BANG on the third of every other bar” and then Fern’s playing SPD and keys at the same time and watching her brain pull apart, shift and then go back together is unbelievable and you’re just like “Wow!”. She then has to change it and she’s like “just give me a second to get it” and then Jules will say “No…I think it sounded better before”.
Jules: Fern’s like *sigh* "yeah…” so it’s a lot of trialling.
Celia: I guess drums is the thing that you can’t do so easily in your bedroom. If at all.
Jules: I recently moved in with my boyfriend and he’s got this drum finger pad which is really cool. I feel like the second album might be a lot more drummy because I’ve got a finger pad and I can play it. Before I was just like drawing drumbeats with my mouse which is a very, uh…
Celia: It doesn’t have a lot of feeling.
So what direction would you say you guys are going in? Do you think your first album has had an effect on that?
Jules: Er, don’t know.
Britt: Is that way too far in the future?
Jules: No! Like I have started writing already but it’s just the same as I said before, if I was trying to write a certain specific thing then I probably wouldn’t write anything because I’d probably be scared of not achieving that thing. If I was like “right, that’s it, we’re gonna be like a rave…techno-band…and I’m going to learn techno and play it on my finger drum and then I played it and then it turned into an indie song, which is obviously where my natural instinct just seems to go, I’d be disappointed that it didn’t sound like techno and I’d just be like “fuck it, I don’t want to be in a band anymore”.
Celia: And also the stuff that people connect to, the stuff that Jules writes, is something authentic. You can’t manufacture that, you have to let it come naturally. I think that’s the thing that makes it universal, the thing that’s the most true, real and personal and that’s the kind of thing that you can’t just be like “I’m going to write a second album that’s going to be totally different” because then that’s the thing that people sense even if they don’t know what it is. It’s that inauthenticity, it’s a bit fake and you can’t relate to it at all.
Britt: It’s interesting that you say that because most bands wouldn’t gauge their audience like that at all. There have been plenty of people where I’ve listened to their album and I’ve thought “that’s epic” and then I’ve listened to their second album and I’ve gone “that’s fucking wank”. You could just tell they had a load of pressure on them to make it within a certain time frame.
Jules: Yeah there’s a lot of pressure involved.
Celia: And again, you can’t control the thing that’s going to come out. You shouldn’t feel bad about having ambitions or being anxious post- a first album. I think you shouldn’t sign a band who make one album or a few songs and an album that you like because that’s a lot of pressure on the artist. If someone starred in a film that you liked or made one film that you liked, that’s quite a lot of pressure on a creative person to always perform perfectly? You just can’t do that and that’s one of the strains of making music. You have to deliver it, you have to hit certain targets to make a certain amount of money and those things don’t always go hand in hand. It’s super long. I was napping when you came. This is my mid-nap chat.
Jules: You’re making sense!
In an alternate reality where The Big Moon never formed, what would you guys be doing? What would be your jobs?
Jules: We were just talking about this actually. Celia would have been a scientist. I would have been an astronaut. Fern would have been a detective. Sophie would have been a chef.
Britt: I pinned Fern as a detective. You can see her with the magnifying glass and the hat.
Jules: She's got some really good coats.
We heard that you, Jules, were going to give your guitar to your parents to focus on getting a real job. What happened?
Jules: I put all my music stuff away briefly because I was in bands for years and no one ever cared so I decided to give it up and I went to art school for a year and I was like 'I'm going to be an artist". I really wanted to be that but then somehow music just kind of crept back in. I started going to see bands again and saw a couple of bands that I really loved and was really excited about and was just like "I'm going to do it".
Britt: Who did you see?
Jules: I went to see Fat White Family, they were, in particular like *throat-whisper-scream in awe*. Lots of smaller bands, I started going out with a guy who was in a band so we would go and see a lot of bands together. Music just sort of reappeared. I was like "I'm going to do that again"...and then I found you guys!
Celia + Jules: *high-pitched celebratory squeeling* *applause*.
You're on desert island discs - if you had to choose between you, 8 tracks to take with you and one luxury item, what would you choose?
Celia: Hello Operator by The White Stripes. This Is The Day by The The.
Jules: No Aloha by The Breeders.
Celia: Just What I Needed by The Cars.
Jules: Hotel California by Red Hot Chili Peppers. I Don't Want To Miss A Thing by Aerosmith...maybe something tropical and beachy. The first thing I could think of was Justin Bieber.
Britt: I was thinking something like Wham! and then you said...that. Okay. Very niche.
Celia: I want Justin Bieber so bad. How much more do we need?
Jules: Oh man, I dunno.
Britt: A guilty pleasure?
Jules: I don't think there's any such thing.
Celia: Oh! All By Myself, Celine Dion. Of course.
Jules: We were listening to the song in the van the other day and there's a bit in the middle where there's a key change and her voice just goes up and it goes up again and then it goes up again and then it goes up again. Your body just *goop sounds*. Notes.
Celia: You have to listen to it. You have to listen to the whole thing. Like really, really listen to it. You're going to be like "I know this song, I know how it goes" but you don't...
Britt: Luxury item?
Jules: Ooo. Maybe a puppy?
Celia: Awh! But there would be creatures on the island that you could domesticate.
Jules: There'd be scorpions...
Celia: They'd probably be, oo, but yeah, maybe, maybe an Alsatian puppy that turns into a big guard dog.
*Riff for Sucker plays in the background as part of a sound check*
Celia + Jules: SHUT UP!
Nearly all of your gigs have sold out, so congratulations. You're clearly here to stay so what's the plan?
Celia: Ugh I don't know, I mean..ugh.
Jules: The plan?
Celia: The plan. Also like the "here to stay", it's quite, I mean we are...
Celia: We are but you never know, do you. With life.
Jules: Yeah, you never know.
Britt:...please don't have an existential crisis because of us.
Celia: Don't worry, don't worry. It's just so much of it is out of your control. We're quite phased by it.
Jules: We love what we do and we would just do it forever and ever but there are so many other things that, like because music doesn't make any money anymore, you kind of rely on your record label more and like, there are loads of outside things that, because it's not really a viable business. So you wonder how long we can do it for.
Celia: Yeah exactly, and also like, I'm fine with the amount of money that I make at the moment but I do see a lot of my friends with real jobs and they're starting to get paid real money. You know? And I'm like "How long can I keep living like a student? When do I have to think about savings?".
Jules: I feel like this is the wrong answer. So the plan. You're right. We're here to stay. And the plan, stan. We're going to finish this tour. We're going to do a show in Turkey. We're going to do two shows in Germany.
Celia: Jules is going to write an album.
Jules: It's going to be Christmas, I'm going to write a new album. We're all going to rehearse and play it all together loads.
Celia: And it's going to be so fun, we're going to drink so much tea and beer and eat so many crisps.
Jules: Rehearsals are the best. And then we'll probably just poke our heads over the wall sometime next year.
Celia: Yeah, or we'll start throwing stuff like "new song! Here!".
Jules: Probably start playing more things on social media that aren't about specific music.
Celia: People will be like "oh my god, this new album is so great" and everyone will be like "remember big moon?". We'll do that for a bit and then we'll be like "new song!" and everyone will be like "we love the big moon!".
Words by Brittany Sutcliffe and Sidney Davies. A special thank you to Celia, Jules, Soph, Fern, Fiction Records and Get Inuit for your time, faces and good company.