By Jake Paterson, Co-Deputy Music Editor
Epigram catches up with the Mercury nominated indie pop outfit ahead of the release of their third album, due October 14.
It’s easy to place The Big Moon alongside other bands in the upsurge of an indie rock revival in the late 2010s, just for the world that they thrive in – small, sweaty, sticky floored live venues – to almost entirely disappear with the onset of the pandemic. Having caught the band off the back of their glittering and scathing debut Love in the 4th Dimension on what must have been one of my first ever gigs aged about fifteen, their songs were essential: a heady mix of romance and human togetherness set to choruses to be belted at people whether the crowd knew the lyrics or not.
"I think those venues are the lifeblood of the whole music industry" lead singer Juliette Jackson tells me over Zoom, having seen her band grow into touring O2 Academies off the back of their latest album Here is Everything. Whilst the lethal onslaughts of tracks like 'Bonfire' remain, the addition of irresistible pop songs make the new record all the more defiant.
Having started lockdown teaching guitar on Instagram and ending it becoming a mother, Jackson notes that the songs from the new record came through a massive period of upheaval. "It was harder to find the right words" she says, "for me the music and the words are sort of all part of such a giant life change, such a massive experience, that it just makes me want to cry when I listen to it" she notes, "like happy, usually happy tears".
Amongst the chaos of songwriting and raising a child, the band also set off on a string of festival shows in 2021 and having seen them last summer I was keen to hear how the situation behind the scenes affected their performance. “It was a surreal experience” Jackson says, “I was breastfeeding and then going on stage and coming off and breastfeeding again”.
Regardless, the sensation of tracks like ‘Your Light’ and a cover of Fatboy Slim’s ‘Praise You’ gracing the warm afternoons of sunlit crowds was exceptional. “It’s funny how after lockdowns some of the songs hit differently and ‘Praise You’ is one of them [sings] “We’ve come a long, long way together”, and it’s just like every time I sing it, I’m like, we have [laughs] we have”. She assures me that their next single, ‘Trouble’, could be played “just on an acoustic guitar or like a toy xylophone but still sound really good”.
With so many of her lyrics now feeling communal, the personal emotional run of becoming a mum was seemingly one far away from the album cycles of the past. I was curious to hear how such personal events wound their way into songs for us to enjoy as fans. “I wrote about a third of it during lockdown, a third of it while I was pregnant, and then a third of it after I became a mum”, she says. The album was set to be finished in early 2021 but the band realised "it wasn’t right”. "We felt like the songs had all these emotions and feelings that they do, but the songs weren’t making your feel that, like there wasn’t the physical sensation of the music doing its job".
To open up the songs then, Jackson took the demos to drummer Fern Ford’s studio constructed in her flat, and the band performed open surgery: picking out the exact moments that were or weren’t landing. "It was absolutely blissful to just work all together. And we’re really good at agreeing on what a song should sound like because it’s such an unspoken thing" she notes, "like, you need space to fool around and make those mistakes and fail like ten times before you do something that sounds really good and everyone’s like: that’s the thing, do it again".
The album’s title, Here is Everything, refers to this very experience, of committing yourself entirely to a project, such that there isn't physically anything left to throw at it. The lead single 'Wide Eyes' is a triumphant note on happiness and overwhelming unconditional love. "Wide Eyes is a love song because I can’t believe how much I love my son" Jackson says, "it sounds really cheesy but I didn’t realise I could love someone that much". Touching on the lyric 'So drenched in the rain / Doesn’t bother you no more', she continues "you know, like not really showering or brushing my teeth or looking after myself, it feels like that. It’s like even if you carried on getting wet, getting rained on, you couldn’t get any more wet – so in that way you don’t really care?"
Yet out of this comes one enduring thing – love. "You’re so deeply in love that you’re just saturated. Like, there isn’t anywhere further to go – in the best way".
Bringing this personal love back to the band shines most through the accompanying music video, which sees each member participate in an equal parts silly and cool handshake routine. "I think our silliness is really important to us" she says of the group (her zoom nametag 'Pooliette' saying it all). "I remember for our last album we tried to make a serious music video [for their single 'Your Light'] and we were like: this is our first single back, this is our second album, we’re a big band now, we’d better be serious".
"Then we got there and we’re just riding bicycles and it’s sunny and someone’s made some puppets and we just spent the whole day smiling and making jokes. Like I don’t want to be serious, I want to have a good time and I want to make people happy".
Here is Everything is out October 14.
The Big Moon headline Rough Trade Bristol on October 15.
Featured image: El Hardwick
Have you seen The Big Moon live?