The very first time Juliette Jackson rehearsed with her bandmates, she cried.
Jackson, Soph Nathan (guitar), Celia Archer (bass), and Fern Ford (drums) had only just met each other shortly prior to that moment and, in their inaugural get together, they played a demo of a song that Jackson had recorded in her bedroom. When the music started, it was beautiful. It was everything Jackson had been searching for.
Jackson has been playing in bands her whole life, but always wound up in the background. In The Big Moon, she would find herself as the frontwoman, leading a gang of like-minded ladies who just fancied playing music and hanging out.
“I really wanted to start a band because I was in a dead-end job as a waitress and was being a bit of a loser,” Jackson says. “I asked all my friends if they would be in a band with me, but they didn’t play any instruments and didn’t want to do it and didn’t have time. So then I asked another friend. I just was, like, running around asking everybody if they could play anything or would learn to play anything or had a brother who knew how to play something.”
Jackson eventually crossed paths with Ford, and the two jammed together for a few weeks. They met Nathan in a pub and, soon after, Archer.
“It was very obvious that we were all in the right place at the right time,” Jackson continues. “It was magical. It was time to do it, and we all wanted to do it, and we all wanted to make the same kind of music, which I think is really lucky. And everything just moved really quickly from there. We made our first demo recording about two weeks after Celia joined, and then put that on the Internet, and people paid attention for some reason.”
A lot of attention, at that.
In the two short years they’ve been together, the London, England based band has been riding a surging wave of success, especially since sharing the fittingly named “Eureka Moment” and, then, “Sucker.” Their debut EP, The Road, filled with sweet, gritty garage pop that evokes both Elastica and Pixies, propelled The Big Moon even further along, as they booked coveted slots at music festivals like Latitude and End Of The Road.
Right now, the girls are in the midst of a world tour and on the cusp of releasing their first full-length album. When AUX calls to chat, Jackson is cozied up in a Seattle Airbnb, drinking a cup of tea, and watching Gilmore Girls.
“It’s a really strange layout,” she laughs, describing two big rooms with a couch, a sofa bed, and two beds — one of which is in the kitchen. “It’s not very Feng Shui, but yeah, I mean, it’s fine. On this tour, we did one Airbnb in New York and we’ve just been staying in friends’ houses and apartments. So that’s been really, really nice, not staying in hotels.”
The tour has been exciting, she says, particularly getting to play three shows in New York. The girls have even afforded time to explore the cities they’ve been visiting, like Washington, DC.
“We went to see the White House, but we couldn’t really see it ‘cause of all the big crowds standing in for [Donald] Trump,” Jackson says. “That was a bit rubbish. To be honest, from where I was standing, it was just a bit like a normal house. We went to see all the memorials and stuff there. Was really cool.”
The new album, Love In The 4th Dimension, is due to be released in April. It takes its name from a track that is about, Jackson explains, “being so in love that you feel like you’ve got into another level of being alive. Not on the ground anymore, you know? Like, higher up, sort of disembodied. You know, just being in another place, another whole reality.”
“And it seemed like a good name for the album,” she continued, “just cause it’s like being in another world. And music is like that — it can transport you to another place and it just seemed to apply.”
The band has been performing most of the songs that’ll be on the effort for about a year already; pieces that songwriter Jackson maintains draw from personal experiences, whether her own or of people she knows. “Some of it’s more silly, but some if it’s really serious, as well,” she says. ”I think it’s good to have both. There aren’t really any sad songs; someone said that the other day and I was like, ‘oh yeah!’ But I think that’s nice.”
“It’s nice to have an escape from real life sometimes, to think about good things and not dwell on the things that you can’t control,” she adds. “Formidable,” a newly dropped single that’ll be featured on Love, is an example of the album’s optimistic outlook. Through husky vocals and a robust yet melancholic melody, the track speaks of lending support to someone in need.
For Jackson, songwriting has always been a way to articulate her feelings. “Your mind doesn’t think in straight lines and you don’t think in words,” she muses, “but, just writing a song, if you’ve got four lines and you want them to rhyme or you have a certain number of syllables that fit in a melody you’ve got an idea for, I don’t know — you end up just really thinking about every single word and making sure it’s exactly what you want to be saying.”
This comes in part from Jackson’s respect for the beauty of a well-crafted song — its structure and the story it recites. “The lyrics [and] the way the melody’s going is much more exciting for me than sort of labouring over a kick drum sound or anything like that,” she continues. “I think there’s different approaches to the music and, for some people, it’s way more exciting to experiment with all the sonics and stuff, but I’m so much more interested in the actual content of the song — the beginning, the middle, and the end.”
A fan of both The White Stripes and Elvis, Jackson names Car Seat Headrest, a Seattle-based indie rock outfit, as a band she currently admires for the way they craft their songs. “Their music is super poppy and melodic and Beach Boys-y, but it sounds really scuzzy, which is my favourite — when a song is really perfect, but it’s recorded in a sort of wonky kind of way, with loads of character,” she says.
Of course, Nirvana was masters of doing this — fuzzing out their impeccable pop sensibilities. “And that’s what so amazing about Nirvana,” Jackson continues. “That’s the same thing, what I was saying about Car Seat Headrest — it’s just these perfect songs. These beautiful melodies and key changes and a verse and a bridge and a chorus and a middle eight and all these different sections that compliment each other perfectly and on chord after another chord.”
With smart lyrics that provide a thoughtful narrative to tart, guitar-wielding melodies and neat harmonies, The Big Moon continues to demonstrate that they, too, are champions of crafting those perfect songs. And, being a powerful collective of female musicians, the band constantly gets questioned on how their gender plays into them — if feminism has a role in their artistry or if they feel pressure to make a statement.
“I think it is what it is,” Jackson responds. “I don’t have any big political agenda. I don’t need to stand up for anyone, I’m not representing anyone apart from myself. I don’t think of it as a big deal. And I also think we’ve never been at a disadvantage. I get the impression that we’re maybe quite lucky in that respect, because it seems like a lot of females in the music industry do end up having a hard time, but we really haven’t. We really haven’t at all.”
For The Big Moon, what’s important is music — and each other.