Interview: The Big Moon's Soph Nathan

Interview: The Big Moon's Soph Nathan

The Big Moon guitarist, Soph Nathan takes us through the highs and lows of playing Alexander Palace with the Pixies, launching an album during lockdown, and going steady with her G&L Asat Classic.

[MPS]
You released your second studio album last January just as the Coronavirus pandemic put an end to live music; this must have been a huge disappointment - how did you promote the record without gigging?

[Soph]
It is disappointing but it didn't really feel it at the time, because it was just so much bigger than what we were doing and was so important to cancel our tours and stay home! A few months into it all we managed to make a music video though, without having seen each other in months - we took it in turns to go into a studio and film in front of a green screen which was such a weird experience but also pretty fun. As well as that Jules started teaching guitar lessons, and we made tabs of the songs on the album to raise money for the Trussel Trust (a charity supporting a network of food banks in the UK).

[MPS]
In regular (non-pandemic years) do you prefer gigging, or do you find song-writing and studio work more satisfying?

[Soph]
I like them both! Studio work is a real treat, but I think if we did it as much as we gigged I might not appreciate it as much. I think I get a more immediate satisfaction from playing live, being able to do it every night in a different city with different people is such a joy, and means we get to explore places we might not have been able to otherwise too.

[MPS]
As well as headlining and co-headlining your own tours, you've shared stages with The Maccabees, The Vaccines, and notably, the legendary Pixies - can you pick out a favourite gig?

[Soph]
Oooh. Supporting Pixies at Alexandra Palace was quite mental for us, they're a band we all love and are a huge influence on Jules who writes all the songs! Also having grown up in North London and having spent a fair bit of time there as a kid it felt pretty exciting to play there too.

[MPS]
You were the ambassadors for Record Store day in 2020, can you tell us a little more about what this meant to you?
 
[Soph]
It meant a lot to us! The support we've had from record stores has really made such a big difference to our experience of releasing albums. Vinyl keeps bands like ours going! It's also just my favourite music format - its so tangible and you get such a different experience from being able to physically put a record on a turn table and sit down with the sleeve in your hands, and pour over the lyrics and the artwork and even the liner notes or whatever else you can find in there
 
[MPS]
Music journalists have drawn parallels between The Big Moon and earlier acts such as The Breeders and Elastica - and we've seen you talking about The White Stripes and Warpaint - who do you count among your most important musical influences?
 
[Soph]
Warpaint's a huge one for me! I wanted to play guitar since I was a kid but it was discovering Warpaint that made me really want to be part of a band.
 
[MPS]
What was your first guitar?  

[Soph]
My parents bought me my first guitar when I was about 7 - it was a sunburst Fender Squier Strat that came with a tiny kids size amp, like a little noisy starter pack. That guitar doesn't really get played much now but it's still hanging around! I now play a G&L Asat Classic, which I've been playing for about ten years.

[MPS]
Tell us about your BigSky, what made you choose it?
 
[Soph]
I'd used a friends BlueSky a lot and loved the warmth of it, especially the shimmer sound - I love that broad ear hugging kind of thing. I've been using a Holy Grail up until now which is a great pedal, but I wanted something that had more diversity to it, and to be able to play with a bigger variety of textures. Another pedal on my board that I love is the T-Rex MudHoney dual distortion; ‘cause it has two channels it can be understated and just give you a bit of grit or be super growly, I rely on it a lot!

[MPS]
Is there anything you have parted with that you really miss?
 
[Soph]
Luckily not! I left my G&L on a train in Paris once, the night before my first gig. I called the train company every day for a week after that with no luck and thought it was definitely lost, but an old friend who lives in Paris managed to track it down and she brought it home for me a couple weeks later.

[MPS]
Wow, that was lucky… Can you think of anything that really changed things for you?
 
[Soph]
Yes! My G&L guitar - I got it when I was about 16 and I've tried to play a bunch of different guitars since but they never quite match up to me. I think it made me fall in love with playing guitar more than I might have, and probably affected the way I play too. It has a real warmth to it and it's just so familiar to me now. I like experimenting with different guitars too, and obviously different tones can serve different purposes, but I always gravitate back to my G&L.
 
[MPS]
Do you have any advice for people starting out on their own musical journeys?
 
[Soph]
Create exactly what you want to create! I always feel like following the feeling in the moment when you're making something, and not thinking too much about it produces the best stuff. I've often over worried in the past about various aspects of releasing music and it's meant that it's taken some of the joy out of it, but in my eyes, the whole point is that it's an outlet and it should be enjoyable or cathartic in some way!

Find out more about what Soph and The Big Moon are up to

Photo credit: Pooneh Ghana

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