Imagine The Runaways as modern British millennials performing what sounds like grunge-punk Spice Girls covers. Welcome to The Big Moon, a London-based girl group that just wrapped its first North American tour ahead of its debut album, Love In The 4th Dimension, on Fiction Records (The Cure, Tame Impala). The young band—featuring singer-songwriter Juliette Jackson, bassist Celia Archer, guitarist Soph Nathan and drummer Fern Ford—channels its angst with energetic tunes like “Sucker” and “Eureka Moment” while showing its depth in the lead single “Formidable.” The Big Moon has its summer booked up with music festivals, but PRØHBTD had the chance to catch up with Celia Archer during the final days of its U.S. tour.
Yeah, "Eureka Moment" was in the first batch of songs that Jules wrote before we even got together, and then she wrote "Formidable" about a year and a half ago. She sent “Formidable” to us and said, "Guys, I've written this song, and I don't know what to do with it. The song is really poppy. Can we play it? I don't know." We all responded, "Oh my god, it's amazing. We have to play it. It has to be ours." That's how that one got born.
How do you see the progression from the first batch of songs to what the band creates now?
I don't know because we play songs that are new to us but that Jules wrote quite a while ago. If there is a progression, it’s that Jules now writes more with the band in mind. Like in the beginning, maybe she wrote songs quite generally, but now I can hear a lot things when she's writing and think, "Oh, that's because of the way Soph plays the guitar," or she’s thinking about our vocals in the background. It seems there's always so much thought that goes into songwriting, but it's more like you sit down and noodle around. You don't really think too much about the process when you're doing it. The songs just come out, and you can project meaning onto it afterwards.
As far as the new album, the online definition online for "4th dimension” has a whole lot of different meanings. Did you have a specific meaning in mind?
"Love in the 4th Dimension" is the name of a song on the album as well. That was a song Jules spent quite a long time writing and wanting to get right, so basically the opposite of everything I just said before. She wanted it to be the greatest love song of all time. We spent ages working out the drum patterns, and she did a lot of research for the lyrics. The “4th Dimension” is about being so in love that you feel like you're in a different dimension or on a different plane to everyone else. There's this place called the Summerland that [Wiccans] believe is like three miles above the Earth, and it’s like another dimension. So that's kind of that. I don't know if I'm making any sense, but that's what it's all about. I guess music can take you to that other place sometimes. The album has a lot of songs about love and being transported.
In speaking with journalists or fans, has anybody taken one of the other definitions of 4th dimension and thought the album related to that?
What other definitions are there? What do you know that I don't?
The other definitions involve spacetime, spirituality, mysticism and phenomena that go beyond the typical human experience, among other meanings.
I guess it's all of them rolled into one.
In a previous interview, you said The Big Moon refers to mooning someone with your butt and not the actual moon in the sky. Was that a joke?
It kind of is and it kind of isn't. We were originally called The Moon, but we had to change it because it's quite a common name, and we didn't want to get sued. We liked the moon because it is this beautiful, ethereal [astronomical body] that controls the tides and has a romantic mysticism about it, but it is also the word for just pulling your pants down. That really fits with a lot of the stuff we do: We take it very seriously, and it’s also a bit silly. We like to be a bit silly and do things like put something really stupid next to something incredibly meaningful.
Speaking of silly, who came up with the idea of Barbie porn for "Silent Movie Susie"?
Barbie porn! (laughs) Our friend Louis [Bhose], who directed the video, came up with the idea. We did two music videos with him already, and after we sent him the song, he emailed back, "Okay, just hear me out. I'm thinking dolls." He just went from there and came up with this storyline. He bought this doll in a market in Dalston and sent us little films in which he’s moving her around, and it was hilarious.
We went to a cafe, and he brought the doll, and we just sat there eating eggs and drinking tea and thinking about all the funny things we could make her do. We were like, "Oh, imagine if she did a life drawing class." We were thinking of things she could do to get back to herself after this horrible breakup. She takes up life drawing, and there’s this action-man model, but he doesn't have any junk. We were just thinking up stupid things like that, and then we refined it to the final version you all see today.
Someone made a tiny dildo out of plasticine, and if my being in a band enables someone to do that, I think we've really made it.
Whose parents in the band were the least fans of that video?
Oh, I don't know, my parents loved it. I don't think we've had any mom and dad complaints yet. I mean, it's not one of us doing it, I guess. Maybe then I'd find it a bit hard to look my mom in the eye. But maybe not. Maybe she'd be cool with it.
In another video, "Cupid," the band gets pelted with stuff the entire time. What was the hardest thing to get out of your hair after filming the video?
All of our friends were there throwing stuff and having the best times of their lives. One of my friends was at the front squirting me with a Super Soaker, and another friend was up on a ladder pouring flour over us… like flour mixed with glitter. Those two combined basically make glue, so our hair was solid paste by the end of it, and we all had to take buses home. It was... yeah. There was a lot of Fairy liquid involved in trying to get it all out. I guess the flour-paste combo was the gnarliest, but it was fun.
You recently did your first U.S. tour. Did you have any quintessentially American experiences?
So many. It's weird because, when you come here, it's exactly like it is in the films. It doesn't feel very real because of that. You're like, "Oh, I thought this was just what these cities look like in the movies,” but it's actually just what they look like, and it's what the people are like. We ate lots of bagels in New York, and we went to In-N-Out Burger in Los Angeles. Also, we didn't have as much time as you'd think. This country's so fucking huge, so you're spending a lot of time in the van, but I guess that's probably a quintessentially American thing to do as well. Looking out the window seeing the landscape completely transform over the course of an hour is quite a romantically American thing.
Being from the U.K., is it weird to be in states like California and Washington where marijuana is basically legal?
I haven't seen the impact on the crowds, like I haven't noticed any mellower crowds, but yeah, it's cool if it can be done in the right way. But, like, everyone in America stinks of weed. It’s like people are smoking weed all the time. You walk two steps down the road and you can smell it. That's quite a nice smell, though, isn't it?
David Jenison (firstname.lastname@example.org) is Editor-in-Chief at PRØHBTD. Photo by Charlotte Patmore.