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Chatting the magic of Christmas and ’90s icons with The Big Moon

The Big Moon are releasing their second album Walking Like We Do today, a gleeful and savvy second showing following their 2017 debut Love In The 4th Dimension. The new record is slick but stylish, dipping outside of rock and into the realms of pop in exclusively tasteful ways.

We recently spoke to founding member Juliette Jackson to find out more about the new record, plus the band’s love affairs with ’90s icons and Christmas hits.

the big moon walking like we do pooneh ghana

Photo: Pooneh Ghana

Find out how Juliette Jackson and The Big Moon found their room to breathe on new album Walking Like We Do.

HAPPY: How does it feel to have the album all wrapped up?

JULIETTE: It feels good… and urgent. We’ve had it finished for a while now and it feels like we’re sitting on an egg. The album was completed in May. We’re all just kind of ready.

HAPPY: It feels like the new album is showcasing a lot of different moods and is very dynamic in the story that it tells. Was it all written in the same time period or headspace?

JULIETTE: It was all written over most of 2018. I spent that year going to other people’s houses, trying to find empty places where I could sing and make ridiculous noises in the middle of the night ’cause I lived with loads of housemates. I ended up spending some time at a house in Wales and a few places around London by myself, not washing or getting dressed for a week [laughs], trying to write some songs. Then we all headed to Atlanta to record the album – it’s been a pretty cool adventure really.

HAPPY: You guys kicked off rehearsing in North East London, nearby plenty of live music action. Has that had much of an affect on the way you write?

JULIETTE: Seeing live acts has always been the biggest inspiration really. When I started the band in 2015, all of my friends were musicians and I knew I had to be part of it really.

HAPPY: Do you ever go back to those origin points? What’s going on in that scene now?

JULIETTE: Yeah, there’s a cafe nearby where we used to rehearse where we always used to get fried eggs [laughs].

HAPPY: You’ve taken a bit more of a poppy approach with the new album. Was that your intention?

JULIETTE: The songwriting style is the same but the songs have been recorded in a way that gives each track more room to breathe. They become more streamlined and I guess in that way, cleaner and more poppy. We went in the studio wanting to create an album that was more spacious and had room to breathe. Our first album is such a perfect representation of who we were at the time. It was all recorded live which made sense because we had been on the road for the last two years prior, and so it does well to capture what our live sound was like.

This time, we didn’t wanna make a classic rock record; we wanted to try out new things. With a rock album, you’re limited to the sounds you can make. But when you start thinking outside of just guitars and playing around with stuff like sub bass which is so much deeper and wider than anything you can get with a bass guitar, it opens up a lot of doors creatively, and we realised that less is more, basically.

HAPPY: Im noticing a lot of multi-layered vocal harmonies on the new album which all seem carefully considered. Do you think you could strip your music back even further and do a sort of a cappella version of your stuff?

JULIETTE: I have thought about that actually. I’ve tried to write an a cappella song in the past but it’s really hard when you have an idea, not to use it. I might be writing something with just vocals in mind and then think, ‘oooh, a baseline could really work here.’

HAPPY: How has the live response been to the more softer, slower songs like Dog Eat Dog?

JULIETTE: It’s actually really nice to play the more downbeat songs after playing a set of dance-y, more poppy tunes. Everyone seems to go into a more intimate, hushed staring mode. We’ve never really had songs like that before.

HAPPY: Who’s been a game changer in terms of influence for the new album?

JULIETTE: We worked with a producer called Ben Allan in Atlanta. He just came on the phone and said “Hey guys! What do you wanna do?! You wanna make a rock album? I can do it! You wanna make a blues album? I can do it! You wanna make jazz album? I can do it.” So he sort of bowled us over with his confidence. He had a huge passion for all the demos of the album. He was obsessed and was constantly emailing me about all the lyrics which is unusual for a producer. He taught us a lot in that respect.

HAPPY: I noticed you’ve got two Christmas-related songs recorded to date. What’s your affinity with Christmas?

JULIETTE: [Laughs] One of the songs we recorded was Carol of The Bells because its sort of the anti-Christmas song – it’s quite scary sounding, all the lyrics are like “Jolly Merry Christmas!” but the music is super spooky. I think it’s in Home Alone. We thought it would be cool to do a cover of that song, ’cause no one ever does it.

HAPPY: You just mentioned Home Alone, which fits in well with your apparent obsession with millennial film and pop culture. In the music video for Take A Piece, you dressed as the Backstreet Boys. Is there a strong connection between the band and ’90s-chic aesthetics?

JULIETTE: Yeah, there’d have to be because we all grew up listening to Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys – they were all our idols, so naturally, impersonating them in a music video was our dream come true. We were trying rip it off almost directly. I guess you can’t help but be influenced by the era you grew up in.

HAPPY: If you could team up with a band from that formative ’90s era who are no longer playing, who would it be?

JULIETTE: Hmm, maybe the Spice Girls? Although I think they’re still around… it’s hard to decide really because it wasn’t all that long ago.

HAPPY: Do you think you would ever go full-kitsch and put out a ’90s-looking/sounding Christmas album?

JULIETTE: Maybe not album but hopefully another video with a silly dance routine. There’s a Destiny’s Child song called The 8 Days of Christmas that’s sooo out of date. All the lyrics are like “You’ll get me a pair of Oakley’s for Christmas.” Maybe doing something like that would a be a good laugh.

HAPPY: You’ve recently been on tour with The Vaccines and even the Pixies. If you could pick anyone, who would you choose to tee up with to tour the new album with locally/internationally?

JULIETTE: Hmmm, it’s really hard to beat the Pixies because they’re like one of my favourite bands but I really like Vampire Weekend at the moment, I love their sound. I also really like HAIM’s new songs; it’d be cool to tour with them and they all seem like good fun.

HAPPY: Any plans to head over this way at all?

JULIETTE: Australia has been really good to us, but we’ve still never visited. It’s just about finding the funds really. Then we’ll be right there – we’re all really hoping to come soon.

HAPPY: Well, when you do, we’ll be here with Christmas bells ringing on arrival!

JULIETTE: Yes! Bring the bells!

HAPPY: Will do! Thanks so much for chatting!

 

The Big Moon’s new album Walking Like We Do is out now.

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January 10, 2020