Record Store Day: How The Big Moon pulled off 'world first' recording live to vinyl
As ambassadors for Record Store Day, The Big Moon have pulled off something organisers have hailed as a world first – recording three tracks live and direct to vinyl in front of an audience.
Performing at the Metropolis Studios in west London, the Mercury Prize-nominated band – Celia Archer, Juliette Jackson, Fern Ford and Soph Nathan – played Your Light, Waves and a cover of Fat Boy Slim’s Praise You to record their exclusive release.
Now in its 13th year, Record Store Day aims to draw music buyers back into independent record shops, and promote the joys of vinyl and listening to albums in full; in championing the cause, The Big Moon follow in the footsteps of previous ambassadors including Sir Elton John, The Mighty Boosh, Rag N Bone Man and Kate Tempest.
Recording directly to vinyl is the original process used by artists to make music for public consumption, but of course it has been long forgotten in the digital age. Live in front of an audience makes it an even bigger task – and to do three songs in this way, in one take, is a world first, organisers say.
There’s not much room for error, although part of the magic comes from those moments that aren’t 100% perfect.
“It’s easier not to think about that stuff,” drummer Fern tells Sky News. “Otherwise it stops being what you know it to be, which is just playing the songs in a gig environment. As soon as you take yourself outside of that you kind of freak out a little bit. It’s better just to stay in that [gig] mentality.”
“We don’t believe, therefore it’s not pressure,” jokes Juliette, the band’s frontwoman.
Formed in 2014, The Big Moon’s debut album, Love In The 4th Dimension, was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2017. The follow-up, Walking Like We Do, charted in the top 20 following its release in January.
This year, they join a huge range of artists – from Britney Spears and So Solid Crew to The Rolling Stones and Biffy Clyro – with special releases of rare and limited edition vinyls out to celebrate Record Store Day.
The band – who stepped in as ambassadors to replace rapper slowthai, following his outburst at the NME Awards last month – say as musicians who have wanted to be in a band since they were young, it is “a total honour” to be involved.
“Obviously records are a huge part of our lives and livelihood,” says bassist Celia. “They have been since before we became musicians professionally, and the record store is such an important space.
“It’s good to protect it and support it and champion it, so we’re really happy to be kind of the spearheaders of that this year.”
The Big Moon are musicians who put a huge amount of effort into creating “the full package” when it comes to making an album.
“We think a lot about artwork and how everything is going to look… what size font are the lyrics going to be, which bits are gonna go where,” says Celia.
“The whole flow of [the album] is really important,” says guitarist, Soph. “I think every musician must think [when they’re making a record] about how it’s gonna be as a whole. And yeah, you want people to be able to hear that.”
The way we all listen to music is now dominated by streaming, which means the majority of fans now play the hits and shuffle rather than take the time to listen to an album in full.
However, the band recognise the benefits of both analogue and digital.
“It definitely has its benefits,” says Fern. “Spotify helps people find us a little bit, but it’s only like a snapshot… I don’t think you’d listen to a song the same on your phone as you would if you were sat down. It’s two different experiences. I personally prefer sitting down and actually kind of having a moment with that record. But I do get the benefits of it.”
“I don’t feel precious about it because I just want people to hear our songs,” says Celia. “I also like the idea that someone’s walking down the street and our song comes on a playlist and they haven’t heard it before, they’ve never heard of us, and it just comes on shuffle.
“I love having that relationship with songs as well. The surprise of it. People should be able to listen however they want.
“But the streaming industry doesn’t need the same help. We don’t need to support it in the same way that we do the vinyl industry.
“You have to really invest [with vinyl]. Paying for it, firstly, but caring enough to want to hold it and take the time to sit down and put it on.
“They both have their merits. Records are the side that takes a bit more time, a bit more patience. So that’s why it’s good to encourage people to listen.”
Read our full interview with The Big Moon next week. Their live-to-vinyl 12″ will be released exclusively for Record Store Day on 18 April