The Big Moon‘s tour comes to a conclusion next week, with the intrepid foursome having been on the road for almost a month. Conor Giblin caught up with Juliette Jackson and Celia Archer from the band back at the start of their run of dates to chat about their Mercury Prize nomination, the experience of touring with Marika Hackman and plans for the future…
SYNC: We’re at Coventry Central Library for the first night of your UK tour, what do you think of this concept of having gigs in libraries?
Celia: It’s really fun! It’s nice to be making loud noises in a library.
Juliette: Also my first ever job was working in a library, so this is all a bit surreal. I was about 15 years old and I used to put the books in alphabetical order and dream about being in a band. I stole a lot of CDs from the library…
Celia: I’ve always wanted to be a librarian actually… Like, after we’ve headlined Glastonbury and we’ve peaked – because we don’t wanna drag it out too long – I’ll just go and be a librarian [laughs].
SYNC: Now, we have to ask you about the crazy week you’ve just had, tell us about your mad night at the Mercurys!
Celia: It was so much fun!
Juliette: It was mad, it was like being in a dream.
Celia: I felt surprisingly relaxed. I thought I’d be really, really nervous and wouldn’t enjoy it, but it was really great. We were on that list with some amazing bands and it was cool to watch them all. There was such a great feeling of camaraderie, everyone was excited to be there. There was a really nice energy in the room. And afterwards we went and got smashed with our mates, so that was also really fun.
Juliette: I felt like I was hungover for about three days afterwards! Just because the build-up was so intense and I got really nervous, I was worried that if I told anyone that I was nervous, it’d make them nervous too. It took me a while to get back to normality.
SYNC: It was Jules’ early demos that helped to form this band. What did you hear in them that made you want to start The Big Moon?
Celia: They were just really good songs and we thought they’d be fun to play. It was the right place, at the right time, with the right people.
Juliette: We were all at the right point in our lives, I think.
Celia: Also our manager, Lou, was already friends with Jules and she was the one who encouraged Jules to start a band, she’s someone we can really trust and want to be around.
The Big Moon – Cupid
SYNC: We recently watched a great interview of you and Marika Hackman at Leeds Festival – what was it like working on her new record I’m Not Your Man and touring the USA with her this summer?
Juliette: It was a nightmare, she’s a really awful person, and she smells terrible! [laughs]
Celia: No! She’s incredible, we were huge fans of her before we met her and she also liked our band. We met at one of our gigs which she came to with her girlfriend and we all made friends. It was nice that we had that respect for each other’s music and musicianship before we met. We became pretty inseparable. We’ve known her for about two years now and she asked us to play on her album because she wanted to do something a bit different, so we were like “Of course, yes! 1000x yes” and we just had a lot of fun playing these really great songs that she’d written.
Juliette: It was a nice challenge as well, because whilst her music isn’t totally another world to ours, the way it’s played is so different. For me, after learning all the fiddly guitar parts, I felt like a much better musician after recording for that album. We had to do it so quickly as well, we had about four days to learn everything.
Celia: The tour was very intense for us and for her too, we were doing a double show every night and pretty much tour managing ourselves. Fern did about five different peoples’ jobs on that tour and had a bit of a breakdown…
Juliette: We all have breakdowns at different times!
Celia: I think that’s why we work as a band, we time our breakdowns to not all happen at the same time.
Juliette: Imagine if they all happened at the same time?!
Celia: I don’t wanna think about it… We also time our back injuries so that there’s always at least two people who can carry gear.
SYNC: One of our favourite Big Moon songs is The Road – can you explain what the song is about for those who might not have heard it?
Juliette: I wrote that song really quickly one morning. I think I’d seen a band the night before and I went home feeling like ‘Music can be anything, you just make noise, right?’. So the next day I started recording with those ideas in my head and then two hours later, the song was pretty much there. Even the words happened really quickly. It was weird, but I like it.
Celia: Fun fact – it’s also Marika Hackman’s favourite Big Moon song. It’s a lot of peoples’ favourite actually, it’s her manager’s favourite, it’s our old sound guy’s favourite, it’s one of my favourites. It’s the first song I ever played with the band and I remember feeling so nervous. There’s that bit where it’s just bass and keys and I was like “Oh my god, I’m gonna mess it up” but I played the whole thing and it all went fine. I looked up and you said ‘Yeah that was really great! But the amp was quite quiet so we couldn’t really hear much…’ I was too nervous to even think about how loud the amp was! I don’t care what they think anymore though [laughs].
The Big Moon – The Road
SYNC: Looking forward to the future, what are your plans after this album cycle? Is there anyone you would like to work with in the future?
Juliette: We’re going to make another album, hopefully.
Celia: Definitely! We’re going to have some time off after this UK tour, just playing odd festivals really.
Juliette: I’m gonna lock myself away in a cabin somewhere and churn out some bangers!
Celia: And I’ll start my librarian training on the side, I’ll do a part-time course [laughs]
SYNC: Do you have any advice for young aspiring musicians? Especially for girls, some of whom may feel that it can be harder for them to get into the industry?
Juliette: I don’t know if it is harder really, some people say that it is and maybe we’ve had a different experience, but I think the main advice is to just keep trying.
Celia: It’s not necessarily harder, it’s just those normal fights that you have as a girl to be taken seriously that happen all the time in all areas of life and in every industry. You have to not be put off by those. Girls may read a lot of things about how hard it can be for women in the industry but that shouldn’t scare you because you can do anything and there are loads of really amazing people who will want to work with you and you’ll find them. Remember that you’ve got the thing that everybody else wants.
The Big Moon – Sucker