INTERVIEW: Nova Twins

It’s the last night of Nova Twins’ European tour when I speak to vocalist & guitarist Amy Love and bassist Georgia South. They’re in Zurich sat in the excellently decorated basement of Dynamo Werk 21, the venue they’ll be playing later that day, which features a huge wall of colourful cassette tapes and tiles with various graffiti scribbles. The band have been bringing the gargantuan sounds of their Mercury Prize nominated album Supernova to crowds across the continent, and they’re ready to bring the riot one last time, before heading back to the UK.

“We did our US tour before this one, so we haven’t actually been home for a few months,” Amy explains. “It’s been really good, but it will be nice to get home, catch up with family and to play our biggest headline shows to date in the UK.”

“It’s our last show with Dream Nails tonight too,” Georgia adds. “They’ve been really amazing to take out in Europe, the shows have been so fun.”

Nova Twins’ extensive touring schedule is something that understandably requires a lot of stamina and focus. The pair explain that they try to maintain good physical and mental health whilst travelling between cities, playing high octane sets to their raucously supportive crowds. I ask how they manage such an impressive feat.

“I mean, we try to do sit ups everyday, but that usually only lasts for about three days,” laughs Amy. “But overall, we’re quite healthy, especially because our shows are high energy, so we need to look after ourselves physically. We don’t really booze a lot on tour, and we try to eat well, so when we do start feeling fatigued, we make sure we’re warming up our voices and your bodies before we go on stage. So that is really, really helpful.”

“Also, on this tour, we forced ourselves to do things, even though we were really tired,” Amy acknowledges. “We had some spare time when we were in Amsterdam that we could’ve spent in the hotel catching up on sleep, but we were like ‘No!’ We forced ourselves out of the weird Groundhog-Day-tour thing and we went and explored and it made us feel so much better.”

“I would say go on walks when you can too,” advises Georgia. “It’s really hard to get time and space to yourself on tour, especially because you’re in the van all day, then you get to the venue, you sound check and do the show, and then you do the same thing everyday for the next seven weeks. It’s important to have time to yourself, even if it’s just a nice shower! Going out for a nice dinner with the crew is always good too.” The pair shared pictures of them enjoying one of these dinners with Dream Nails in Reims on their socials earlier on in the tour.

Nova Twins have been the support acts on tours with established acts like Prophets Of Rage and Bring Me The Horizon, so I ask them what process they go through when it comes to choosing support artists for their own shows.

“It’s really important for us to make sure that we’re working with women, non-binary, trans and artists of colour, because we’re normally the ones that have been left at the back in the alternative scene,” Amy explains. “We created a playlist called Voices For The Unheard that is predominantly artists of colour who make alternative music, and we’ve been taking different people from this playlist on tour with us. We had Gully Boys with us in the US, CHERYM on a previous UK tour, and now we have Dream Nails and Aziya too. We just want to shine a light on them, because they’re all amazing and incredible in their own right.”

Since their inception, Nova Twins have pushed the boundaries for artists of colour in heavy music. From their open letter to the MOBO Awards asking the panel to consider adding a Rock/Alternative category, curating their Voices For The Unheard Playlist and having Dr Martens press a limited edition vinyl for it, to simply existing in a predominantly white, male music genre; Amy & Georgia have remained true to themselves and their communities in an industry that often tries to crush artists who attempt to do this.

The duo’s knockout second album, Supernova, was nominated for this year’s Mercury Prize Award too. The nomination was not only hugely deserved, but it was groundbreaking as they were the first women of colour who make heavy, alternative music to be acknowledged for the award. Despite the original ceremony being disrupted by the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the duo were thrilled to perform ‘Antagonist’ at the awards show once things were back on track.

“We grew up watching The Mercury Prize awards and we would always look at the list of nominees, so to be included was literally a childhood dream,” Georgia enthuses. “To be on such a great award show that rewards people for their art, not just for numbers and record sales. The whole day was just great vibes. Because it was round two, everybody was less nervous and more excited to see each other again.”

“Little Simz was outstanding, she really did captivate the room,” Amy remembers. “I think everyone just brought their A game. They were just there doing what they love. It felt like a room full of like-minded people, sharing the space and supporting each other. We’ve heard from other artists who have been to other award ceremonies where there’s been a weird competitive vibe in the air, but The Mercurys didn’t feel like that. It just felt like a celebration of everyone’s albums. Everyone was so happy for each other.”

It seems like a good time to dive into what the band are most proud of about their second album, Supernova. Of course, the pair appreciate the critical acclaim surrounding their record, but on a personal level, it means much more to them.

“Going through the pandemic was a tough time for everybody in different ways, and I think we are just super proud that we got to actually make the album during that time,” Amy reflects. “We found so much focus and so much peace in it. When everything else was so uncertain, we had the album. We were separated during lockdown, so it was a really good way for us to to remain connected and to surprise each other with ideas, and to have things to look forward to.

When we finished writing it, we really hoped it wasn’t going to be one of those albums that gets thrown out there, and then nothing happens with it, you know? We just hoped it would have a good lease of life, because we put our heart and soul into it. We’re just really proud that we even managed to get it together in such a weird time. Whatever was going on around us didn’t really break us, we kept going and moving forward, which is something to be said in this industry.”

As a DIY journalist, it’s been a privilege to watch Amy & Georgia catapult themselves over the barriers that have traditionally held female artists of colour back for years. Not only do they make phenomenal, genre-defying music, they remain focused on their DIY ethos of lifting others up with them as they move on to the next step, not forgetting the fans and the platforms that have supported them from day one.

This passion is shared by their fans and followers, who have been selling out the majority of venues on the band’s recent EU tour. When asked which songs from the new album hit hardest, the pair are quick to claim ‘Choose Your Fighter’ and ‘Antagonist’ as the most energetic of the new tunes. “’K.M.B.’ (Kill My Boyfriend) is quite cute actually,” Amy adds, “especially when everyone screams that at the top of their lungs. You can really feel the heartbreak with that one!”

From live shows, to the Radio 1 Live Lounge! Nova Twins recently delivered an iconic version of Beyonce’s ‘Break My Soul’ for the show’s hugely popular segment.

“It was always going to be tricky to pick a song, because we’re not a band who really come from a covers background,” Amy explains. “We just knew we had to cover Queen Bey and we had to do her justice. It was so nerve wracking, because you only get one take. You speak to Ricky and Melvin, and then it’s like ‘take it away!’ but we were really happy with the outcome.”

“We love Beyonce. Beyonce is queen to us. She’s a goddess,” enthuses Georgia. “It was fun because the song is so different from our own music, which meant we could just completely mess with it.”

Nova Twins creativity doesn’t just extend to covering Queen Bey’s club banger though. For years, Amy & Georgia have been customizing and creating their own outfits for video shoots and live sets under the moniker of Bad Stitches.

“We knew that we really wanted to make our own outfits for The Mercury Awards, so we spent three days making them in between rehearsals,” Georgia explains. “You just have to cram it in really. We’ve discovered that sometimes you just have to stay up until three in the morning to fit everything in, it’s just how it is,” she laughs, “eventually we’d love to be able to expand Bad Stitches so that other people can buy our clothes too.”

The duo will no doubt be wearing their best threads for their upcoming UK shows, beginning in Glasgow on 10th November, Manchester on the 11th and then London on the 12th.

“These UK shows are our biggest headline shows to date. I think we always feel a little differently about home gigs, because we know our friends and family will be watching, so there’s a little bit more anxiety I guess,” Amy comments. “I remember going to see other bands play at Brixton Electric and being like, ‘wow, this is a sick venue, I’d love to play here’ and now we’ve been able to sell it out for our own show – it’s still kind of mind blowing really. I hope it’s a really good night. We’ve got a bit more production stuff for these shows too, so that should be cool.”

Grab the remaining tickets to Nova Twins’ UK shows here!

Follow Nova Twins on SpotifyTwitterInstagram & Facebook

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Introducing Interview: Queen Colobus

Having received support from the likes of BBC 6Music’s Mary Anne Hobbs, as well as Jazz FM and Soho Radio, South London based indie-jazz collective Queen Colobus have recently released their new EP Think Fast. Filled with blissful hooks, luscious swooning vocals and glistening laid-back beats, it showcases the band’s ability to fuse together an eclectic array of influences to create wonderfully woozy, musically rich euphoric soundscapes.

We caught up with Queen Colobus to find out more about the EP, what inspires them and what to expect from their live shows…

Hi Queen Colobus, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about the band?
Hiya! We’re a genre-bending 4-piece based in South London. We’ve been together for about three years and Beth (sax/vocals) and Jelly (guitar) live together in sunny Camberwell in a house full of musicians. Our name was derived from an Old World Monkey called King Colobus, which we thought reflected our wise and playful nature (but being a female-led band, Queen felt more apt). We all love marmite.

How did you initially all get together and start creating music?
Beth & Jelly met at a jam session in Southampton years ago and bonded over being the only female instrumentalists in the room. We forged an alliance and, upon realising how weird we both are following a raspberry-blowing-on-a-random-person’s-stomach incident, we roped in our frivolity-filled mates Will & Adam to create Queen Colobus. We thought the weirdness might seep into the music too and, sure enough, our music has been repeatedly described as wonky.

Your new EP Think Fast is out now – can you tell us what it’s all about? Are there any specific themes running throughout the album?
Yes, we’re really proud of this one! It’s our second EP. Beth wrote the bare bones of most of these songs and then brought them to the band, so they’re fairly personal. The EP covers themes that are often not talked about in society; grief, mental health struggles and unrealistic body ideals. ‘Think Fast’, the title track, hits back at body ideals and their damaging effects on women, especially young women, whereas ‘5/9’ was written about Beth’s Dad’s relentless positivity as he underwent cancer treatment. The final track of the EP, ‘Old Friend’, was recorded live in one take and is a sweet song on learning how to be alone.

You’ve been compared to the likes of Hiatus Kaiyote and Arlo Parks, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
We’re lucky to all have such a wide spread of influences. For example, Beth always says that she sort of fell into jazz because she plays saxophone, but listens to so much indie and rock music that this weird amalgamation of them all comes out in her writing. Then when we come together, everyone brings their styles to create an even weirder combination that we often struggle to identify. We can feel a lot of the underground scene’s genre lines becoming blurred and us slowly moving into a post-genre music world, and we’re excited to be part of it. If we had to name one or two influences, Hiatus Kaiyote and Led Zeppelin are probably top of the list.

How is your local music scene? Do you go to see lots of live music?
As Beth & Jelly live in a house of musicians we were lucky to have a full band in the house over lockdown. As things started to open up but venues hadn’t yet, we would host jams for our community in our back garden, so we were really fortunate to still experience live music throughout the pandemic. Our music community is incredible – everyone is so supportive of each other. We see a lot of live music because we’re passionate about it but also because we want to support all our mates!

And what can fans expect from your live shows?
Lots of cathartic rage channelled through a saxophone, followed by sweet calming sounds soothed by Beth’s voice. Extreme guitar solos from Jelly via a concerningly un-grounded plethora of guitar pedals. Will’s head bobbing so furiously you feel his neck must be a slinky. An absurd rhythmic wizard named Adam via the medium of drums. Seriously, though, the audience are very much a part of our performance – we’re always so inspired by everyone’s energy in the room. We always try to create a space where everyone on and off stage feels like they can let go and be completely immersed in the moment.

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any new/upcoming bands or artists you’d recommend we check out?
Yes! We’re loving Holysseus Fly ‘Marigold’ and Stanlæy ‘omnibiguous’ – two singles released last month that are incredible. Shoutouts to Plumm ‘Flame to Flame’, Nina Fine ‘Little Lies’ and t l k ‘Frame Of Ted’. Also we became completely obsessed with Jessi Mac’s tune ‘Carry On’ last year. Excited for Marla Kether and China Bowls to drop their new music soon too.

And how do you feel the music industry is for new bands at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?
It’s hard because the pandemic stopped so many artists’ trajectories in their tracks – it sort of felt like we were over-saturated as a scene as venues started to open up and bands released music they wrote over that time too. Having said this, the saturation is also super inspiring – everyone is creating and pushing boundaries with their art and it inspires us to do so too. There’s always an element of luck too which is impossible to predict.

Finally, what does the rest of 2022 have in store for Queen Colobus?
We’re working on some new music and will be back in the studio early 2023 – lots more weird sounds coming your way!

Think Fast, the new EP fro Queen Colobus is out now. Listen to / buy it on Bandcamp now.

Five Favourites: Hannah Schneider

Having been big fans of Danish artist Hannah Schneider (also of duo AyOwA) for some time now, we were super excited to welcome the release of her latest album (her first solo release in seven years), Ocean Letters. A collection of immersive, celestial soundscapes, it perfectly showcases Schneider’s ability to bathe your ears in a euphoric, soothing grace as her rich, crystalline vocals ripple with a dreamy ethereal haze. A blissful sonic accompaniment to calm the senses as the temperatures drop and the darkness draws in.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspires them. So, to celebrate the release of Ocean Letters, we caught up with Hannah Schneider to ask about the music that has inspired her the most. See below for her choice of her five favourite albums.

Beach House – Teen Dream
As a surprise to no-one, Beach House is a huge inspiration for me, and this is one of my favourite albums ever. The songwriting is off the charts amazing – wild, advanced and still it seems you can hum along to every one of the tunes. Many of the texts and titles have such a suspense in them, and they each create a scene or a story that catches your attention. And then of course, the sound. I have always been extremely inspired by their hazy dream pop sound with significant guitar lines, drum machines and beautiful vocals, and on my album Ocean Letters in particular I go all the way on a few songs in my Beach House tribute. The demo for ‘The World’s Gone Still Now’ from my album was even called “beach house vibes” before it got its real title after my friend and magic guitar player Anna had come and laid down the guitar parts on it! 

Hania Rani – Esja
For me, Hania Rani is a fairly new acquaintance, but I have been very inspired by her in my work with this album. From the sound of the piano, to the simple and yet complex compositions, and the sparse layers that still create such a full sound and beautiful cinematic scenes. This music gives such space for imagination, and that’s what I have been trying to create with my album as well. 

Portishead – Portishead 
I don’t think there’s a time in my life where I haven’t listened to Portishead. It’s a constant source of inspiration, how they make such intense music without shouting at the listener. Such slow paces, such minimalist productions, simple chord structures, and yet the melody and Beth Gibbons’ voice is so wild – complex and completely vulnerable, and unnerving, at the same time. I am forever inspired by their way of orchestrating music and making suspense and drama, and the way they dare to combine musical genres in their music has been a big inspiration for my album as well.

Emilie Nicholas- Tranquille Emile
Norway is the country with the most happening right now music wise in Scandinavia I think. One of the first in this new wave of interesting artists is Emile Nicholas, and I love her way of creating new R’n’B/soul with such a distinct Nordic flavour. Interesting melodies, beautiful instrumentation and Emilie’s million dollar vocals on top – wow, how she can create lines that amazes! I just gave in to this album, and have enjoyed it very much while creating my own album. I think I have also let myself be inspired by the gospel-ish chord changes in some of her songs, and in my song ‘It’s The Season’ I have let myself dive in to the slow more soulful chords and musical phrasings.

Agnes Obel – Myopia
This album is a true masterpiece of orchestration and melodies – such beautiful compositions, and Agnes Obel’s magical voice on top. There is such a cinematic quality to all her albums, and this has been a great inspiration to my album, Ocean Letters. Her albums also seem very conceptual thematically and sound wise, and this is something I have also approached in my work with Ocean Letters.


Massive thanks to Hannah Schneider for sharing her Five Favourites with us!

Ocean Letters, the new album from Hannah Schneider, is out now via Midnight Confessions.

FIVE FAVOURITES: Bonnie Trash

Finding comfort and catharsis in the darker spheres of life, Canadian-Italian twin siblings Emmalia and Sarafina Bortolon-Vettor create music inspired by everything from Italian folklore to the gloom of post-punk. Performing under their moniker Bonnie Trash, the duo have recently released their deliciously droney debut album, Malocchio, which translates as “hex” or “curse”. Inspired by the stories that their grandma Nonna Maria handed down to them as children, their record is a potent and commanding blend of metal, shoegaze and gothic rock, released via aptly named label, Hand Drawn Dracula.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Bonnie Trash to ask about their “Five Favourites” – five albums that have inspired their song-writing techniques. Check out Emma & Sara’s choices below and listen to their new album, Malocchio, here.

1. The Smashing Pumpkins – Gish
Sara: When I was a teenager, around 13 or 14 years old, I was emotional as all hell and needed to release my sadness, my anger – it’s like all of a sudden I was finally feeling everything all at once. I was just beginning my journey into 1990s grunge like Soundgarden, Nirvana, and Alanis Morisette. Then I heard, ‘I Am One’ by The Smashing Pumpkins and it blew my mind. It was loud, heavy, and had hints of heavy metal. That drum opening drew me right in and I became an instant fan of Jimmy Chamberlin. At the time, I was solely playing the drums. I didn’t even think about singing until I was around 16. As I listened to Gish on repeat for a few years, it didn’t take long until Billy Corgan’s lyrics and voice seeped into my bloodstream, and inspired me to sing and write. There are truly painful, sad, and quiet moments on this album, and they are almost always followed by dramatically explosive arrangements. I instantly fell in love.

2. The Jesus and Mary Chain – Darklands
Sara: This album is a post-punk gem. It’s gorgeous. Those smooth, noisy, yet soft grooves that make you want to slow-bop along to it all – it’s pure bliss. There’s a sensitive nature to this record, and it bleeds out through the vocals and lyrics, backed up by pop-sensibilities. The drums hit hard and are super robotic, as the guitars float on top. Darklands sparked my love for drum machines and electronic percussion. And the lyrics? They’re macabre, sad, dark, and at times joyous: “And I awake from dreams, to a scary world of screams.” Combining these contrasting lyrical themes are beautifully-haunting. What’s so cool about this record is that it’s got this overall bubblegum pop sound. Darklands continues to inspire my love for electronic drums, writing pop-structured songs, and singing about dark subject-matter in a (sometimes) joyous way.

3. Godspeed You, Black Emperor – Yanqui U.X.O 
Emma: I encountered this album after a hard drive swap with my bandmates/friends about 10 years ago. I religiously listened to my iPod on shuffle to hear how songs were related to each other. ‘Motherfucker = Redeemer’ came on and my world was transformed. It slowly repeated and grew in intensity, yet gave so much sonic space for emptiness to shine. This album forever changed my guitar playing. It made me want to expand on noise and texture while keeping everything I wrote simple enough to be repeated, droned, and transforming. I changed the way I use a slide and it made me pick up a bow. Yanqui U.X.O is the soundtrack of major horror and disaster, telling a story of how deep our formations of capitalist structures eventually funnel into the corporate hands of bomb making and war-feeding. It tells the tale of how the little things really do add up.

4. Nine Inch Nails – And All that Could Have Been
Emma: This is more of a recent discovery and a moment of excitement in re-igniting a creative spark. I’m not normally into listening to live albums but this one is exceptional– the 2000 Fragility 2.0 tour that took the world by storm. In this sonic capture, you can hear every instrument in its live element embodying the heaviness of each song with even more depth; you can feel everything vibrate and sense the sweat. This was the first time in a long time where I picked up my guitar and played to each song, pretending to be part of the band. ‘Wish’ hits me the hardest on this album because you can hear an entire audience singing, “Wish there was something real, wish there was something true / Wish there was something real in this world for you.” And in this time, I cannot help but wonder how many of us are reciting these very same lyrics.

5. Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures 
Emma & Sara: The feeling, “Is that it? Is there more?” is a ghost that haunts humanity. Don’t pretend it isn’t. Even the most joyous person asks this question from time to time. Unknown Pleasures in it’s most turmoiled, poetic existence, illuminates the truths behind our being. It adds some sort of comfort despite the demise and perhaps, in this struggle, we find ourselves again. Let there be disorder, lose control, fuck your day of the lords, and fall into the interzone. This chaos is the beauty of existence and with it comes hope, a monster to have faith in. There is more. You are more. Make your fate. Unknown Pleasures is a classic because it allows you to pick your personal scabs and come out transformed. It has inspired our love for the macabre, sorrowful, and of course, post-punk.

Thanks to Emma & Sarah for sharing their Five Favourites with us!

Watch the video for Bonnie Trash’s single ‘Silence Is A Killer’ below

Follow Bonnie Trash on bandcamp, Spotify, TwitterInstagram

Photo Credit: dana Bellamy