The Big Moon have recently graduated from a fast-tracked apprenticeship as a support band for some seriously notable acts.
They first appeared in music’s periphery vision as one of Mac DeMarco’s support acts at a Beacons Metro show last autumn. Since then they’ve moved with style and purpose into our line of vision, performing opening duties for The Maccabees, Ezra Furman, and at almost every alternative music festival of note.
When we sit down to talk to them, it’s the Sunday night before Halloween. Despite the awkward timing of the gig there’s a strong turnout and, although this isn’t technically their first headline tour, it seems like a real watershed as the band are reflective on their rise thus far, explaining how they feel they managed to dodge a bullet with regards to double-edged sword of hype.
Of their headline act status, the band’s frontwoman Jules Jackson says that this tour feels “even more special” than anything before because of the new freedoms they have been afforded. “Because the rooms are bigger, because more people bought tickets in advance” she says detailing the small-scale symptoms of their upwards trajectory. Bassist Celia Archer elaborates “You can play all of your songs and tell jokes and make up dance routines”.
It’s obvious from the way in which the band talk about their live shows that they have a laissez-faire approach to gigging. That is not to say that they’re not serious about their work and how they operate as a band. Drummer Fern Ford talks about how, at the beginning, they “got their ducks in a row before releasing anything”. From the outside, it might seem that their success has been a serendipitous chain of events – climbing up bills with almost accidental ease – but it was in fact a very focused project. “We knew exactly what we wanted to do,” she adds.
That sense of ambition and direction has manifested itself as gutsy, emotive indie, crafted into the perfect pop structure and with a keen ear for a well-phrased lyrical sentiment. The band is incredibly tight, both in terms of musical skill and how at ease they are with each other. Their line-up is completed by guitarist Soph Nathan and they take the piss out of each other as frequently as they tell each other they’re brilliant. It’s a dynamic that could be grating or seem contrived in a different context, but with The Big Moon you feel they genuinely love being in a band. being in this band together.
‘Sucker’ and ‘Nothing Without You’ are powerfully relatable songs about feeling romantically vulnerable
They haven’t yet released an album, but through a series of single releases on various independent labels they have carved a clear identity for themselves as a band with bolshy but incredibly clever songs that are as cathartic as they are catchy. Songs such as ‘Silent Movie Susie’ and ‘The Road’ explore the complications of messy, imperfect relationships whereas the likes of ‘Sucker’ and ‘Nothing Without You’ are powerfully relatable songs about feeling romantically vulnerable.
There’s often an interesting conflict between the lyrics and the way they are sung. “I’m a sucker for you” or “I can’t do the simplest things without you standing by my side” in the hands of anyone else would be disempowering or irritating but with The Big Moon they are quite the opposite. Addressing lyricist and singer Jules, Celia says; “I never feel when I’m listening to it like ‘she’s so (whimpers)’ – you’re always in the position of power”. Jules agrees, explaining how she would always re-record vocals that sounded too shaky or cracking in order to make sure her lyrics about romantic adversity sound triumphant.
Celia draws a parallel between singers such as Etta James and Nina Simone, for whom devotion and vulnerability are a major theme, saying, “You never think she’s an idiot, you think she’s so cool and she’s got great feelings and that guy is obviously a loser and she’ll be fine – it’s quite empowering”.
The Big Moon’s own style of empowerment is very much grounded in humour, self-deprecation, camaraderie and the vocalisation of complicated feelings. “He”, “she”, “girl” and “guy” are used interchangeably in the songs. You’re never quite sure whose semi-fictional point of view you are experiencing, but you’re always in good company. Of her ever-changing narrative voice, Jules says “I often write about people I know and project feeling on to them, and don’t usually tell them”.
The Big Moon are really good at getting inside a sentiment and making it into a pop song. She agrees that even the bluntest of lyrical hooks can capture a nuanced and complicated feeling, “It’s like trying to articulate a feeling in the best way you can and you’ve got six words to say it”.