“How else are you going to start a band unless you start asking?” – An interview with Jules Jackson of The Big Moon

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The Big Moon recently went on tour, delivering as tight a performance as ever. I sat on a staircase with Jules, the frontwoman, to talk about their Mercury Prize nomination, recording their album in 12 days, and New Music Friday.

So you guys were nominated for the Mercury Prize, which is amazing! You’ve done so much this year as well.

Yeah! The Mercury [Prize] was the best thing that could have happened to us at the best time, and it was completely out of the blue, we had no idea that it was even happening. We didn’t believe it for about a week after we found out we’d been nominated, we were telling our manager to email people over and over again and to read the small print, we were like “Are you sure it’s not a nomination for a nomination?” Or a list before the actual list. We didn’t believe it! But it’s been so good for us, and we got so much press out of it.

That’s so exciting, and you were up against so many big people like Stormzy, Loyle Carner…

And Ed Sheeran!

That shouldn’t be allowed, he’s too big. 

I know! Everyone says that, it was like a shock entry. But to be honest we were also definitely underdogs in that situation, I found this article the day after the awards ceremony because I wanted to watch the TV show but instead, I found this article that said “Bands see boost in sales after Mercury Awards” and I was like “Ooh, did we?! Interesting!” I read it and there was this chart of what all the bands who had been nominated were selling and we were the second lowest. I was like “Shit! We’re the smallest band!” But it was still amazing, a dream come true.

And you guys are still quite new as well. When you formed, you were the one who put out the request for people to form a band with – how long was it before you all knew that it would work being in a band together?

It was pretty immediate, it’s a bit like the feeling when you meet someone and you know that you could be friends, or you want to be friends. I was putting up posts on Facebook, posters in guitar shops, texting everyone I’ve ever known who played an instrument, begging people to learn instruments. Then I met Fern [Ford] first, and we hit it off straight away, then we met Soph [Nathann] and again, hit it off straight away, you can just tell! And there have been other people in between we’d met or had fallen by the wayside, quite a few people don’t have enough time, which is sad but it’s true, it’s hard to find enough money to rent a rehearsal room and to find enough time because most people have jobs! We were lucky that we were all part-timers at that time so we could do it.

What was it that made you want to form a band so much?

It’s just the only thing I’ve ever really wanted, I’ve been in bands for years and years, never as the singer or songwriter but always kind of plodding along in them and nothing ever really happened. I gave it up for a couple of years and ended up going to see bands again, I saw a few bands live and was just really tickled again, I really wanted to do it again. And at that point, if you’re not at university and you don’t know loads of people, how else are you going to start a band unless you start asking? I was just like, “I don’t know anyone, none of my friends can do this”, so I had to find some new ones.

I guess if you don’t ask you don’t get.

Exactly. And if you don’t know how to do something you can just learn it, I didn’t know how to write songs but I tried really hard until something songlike started forming. It took me a while, and it took me a long time to work out how to record shit on my laptop.

Speaking of recording… You recorded your album in 12 days. How?!

Oh man, it was intense. It was in the beautiful, hot summer in a really nice studio, with Catherine Marks who was our producer, she’s a total legend. We just did 10am to about midnight every day, so for those 12 days it was just studio, sleep, studio, sleep, there was no time for anything else. You kind of forget about time, your life, friends, family, everything except for how to make these songs sound really good. It was great! It was one of the best experiences I could have had, actually.

Was it a choice to do it in 12 days?

No, we wanted to spend a good month on it but we just didn’t have time, I think Catherine was only there for 7 out of the 12 days, the other days we worked with a guy called Cecil who’s amazing, but Catherine had to go to LA to record another album. She’s busy, she’s a busy lady! But her stamp is definitely all over that album.

Presumably, you had everything prepared before you went in though?

Yeah, we had all the songs ready, we didn’t know the running order for a while, but there wasn’t anything we had to work out in the studio, they were songs we’d been touring for years so we knew how we wanted them to sound and how they go. The running order ended up being like writing a setlist just before a show, we did it just before we had to print the album. But in the end, what you pick is the right thing.

I remember when your album came out I was just refreshing Spotify and waiting to see it come up, New Music Friday is possibly my favourite day of the week but I was unnaturally excited. When The Front Bottoms’ new album came out I was in the car with some friends and I was like “I need the aux cable, I can’t wait I just need to listen to it”. Who are your favourite artists at the moment? Is there anyone who you’d stay up until midnight to listen to?

That’s so exciting to hear, I don’t know if there’s anyone like that. I’m a very slow moving person, I’m quite big and long-limbed, like a giant in a movie who moves quite slowly.

Do you tend to listen to the same artists?

Yeah, I like the same things, I like things that are familiar and that I can sing along to. But there’s been some stuff this year that I’ve really liked, I liked Loyle Carner’s album, I’m quite excited to hear King Krule’s new stuff, but I can’t think of anything that I’d get that excited about.

 Watch the video for ‘Pull The Other One’ below:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPBnVo1ZgxI
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Third year PAIR student and live editor. Also the Wessex Scene's Head of Events. Fan of cats, gigs and a tea lover - find me rambling about politics and cats @_Carly_May on Twitter.

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