INTERVIEW: bigfatbig | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

Narc. Magazine Online

Reliably informed

Image by Amelia Read

Take up as much space as you feel you need to take up: you can never be too much, you can never be too big, you can never say too many things. If that’s what you want to say and what you want to do, you should take up that space and you should say those things.”

bigfatbig vocalist Robyn Walker is offering up the advice she would give to any young women who wanted to perform music but are too scared to do so, but she could also be summing up the pop punk duo’s unapologetic and authentic ethos.

Formed in 2019, the Sunderland band exploded onto the local music scene with their debut single Science, quickly gathering acclaim and momentum which saw them named as one of BBC Introducing’s Tips for 2020 and earning them a slot at the 2020 Reading and Leeds Festival. Of course, 2020 didn’t go to plan, but bigfatbig have refused to let the pandemic break their stride.

Reading and Leeds felt like such a pipe dream, so for us to even get that email asking us to play at all – it’s cool to know it is possible!” Says Robyn. “You’ve got to look at the positives or you’ll drive yourself insane: try and focus on the good bits that came from it.”

The band have used the last few years to release a bunch of singles, including the brilliantly barbed So Bored and the sing-along at the top of your lungs anthem Don’t Wanna Be Sad, but this November will see them release their first EP, Rockin’ And Rollin’ And Whatnot: four slices of pop punk perfection that embody their aforementioned unapologetic spirit.

The first track we released from the EP, Shut Up, is about the music industry in terms of guitar music. There are so many regurgitated ideas from the same kind of faces and not much representation for different genders or sexualities or anything that isn’t straight white man,” explains Robyn.

The sarcastic lyric “A boy with a guitar is here to tell me something new,” sums up Robyn’s thoughts on the matter. “There’s nothing wrong with releasing unoriginal music – if you like the sound of something that’s been done before that’s fine – but the idea of people consuming that and thinking it’s revolutionary drives me mad!”

We know that we’re really privileged in just being able to release music,” adds guitarist Katie Ryall. “It’s frustrating that some musicians don’t recognise their privilege, so Shut Up is us addressing all of that in a stupid pop punk song: we wanted something easy to sing along to that got our point across in a fun way.”

The idea of privilege is something bigfatbig address elsewhere on the EP with Wrong Place, Wrong Time. Both Robyn and Katie are incredibly proud of their working-class background, having grown up in the small, economically deprived villages of Easington Lane and South Hetton respectively.

That track came about because I saw something on Instagram, where an influencer was pretending to be working-class because apparently that aesthetic is appealing, and it was a fashionable look – that’s such a strange concept!” Says Katie. “It’s about what it means to struggle to be from a working-class background and still find a way forward. How people are penalised because of where they’re born or what they’re born into.”

put people who aren’t straight white men on stage and put people who aren’t men in positions of power in the music industry and things will change for the better

Both Robyn and Katie display an acute self-awareness that is both admirable and refreshing. It’s also helped them to be savvy when navigating the music industry and choosing who they work with. This is reflected with the release of Rockin’ And Rollin’ And Whatnot on Du Blonde’s (aka Beth Jeans Houghton) ultra-cool Daemon TV label, with Du Blonde’s ethos aligning closely with their own.

We’re lucky enough to know people who champion diversity in music,” Katie explains. “The people we trust our music with all care about not just putting the same men on line-up after line-up. Even if we don’t have negative experiences all the time, it’s important to shine a light on the wider issue. The answer is really simple: put people who aren’t straight white men on stage and put people who aren’t men in positions of power in the music industry and things will change for the better.”

We just don’t have the time to work with people who aren’t going to take us seriously or who don’t have our best interests at heart because we know we deserve better than that,” adds Robyn. “We’ve worked incredibly hard on this so we’re not going to waste our time with people who don’t deserve to be working with us.”

Inevitably, bigfatbig have suffered through some negative experiences (it’s absolutely horrific and infuriating to hear they regularly receive nude photos from men through their band page), but they refuse to dwell on any of this. “We think back to how we felt before we started this band when we were inspired by seeing other women on stage, and if one other person looks at what we do and thinks ‘I didn’t know that was an option for me, but it can be’, then job done,” says Robyn. “That’s more than we can ever ask for.”

Coming back to the advice they would give other women who wanted to start a band but were too afraid, Katie shares her own anxieties. “We’ve played so many amazing festivals and gigs, but I still get scared, whether they’re safe spaces or typically male dominated, I know I’ll still be scared on the day. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to get up and play my guitar and be loud and take up that space that I deserve. You have to do it even if you are scared, but know that it’s okay to be scared!”

bigfatbig release Rockin’ And Rollin’ And Whatnot via Daemon TV on 4th November. They play Pop Recs Ltd. in Sunderland, supporting Martha, on Thursday 1st December.


Like this story? Share it!

Subscribe to our mailout