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!

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Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

PLAYLIST: Galentine’s Day 2018

Grrrls, it’s the best day of the year: GALENTINE’S DAY! Coined by Parks and Recreation character Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler) back in 2010, Galentine’s has since been recognised by girls across the globe, and used as a light-hearted platform to celebrate the girls and women who enrich our lives.

We wanted to celebrate it with you in the best way possible: by chucking some of our favourite female artists on a big old playlist. We’re all about self-love & sisterly love today, so scroll down, press play, and share that big ol’ Galentines love!

Bikini Kill – ‘Rebel Girl’ 
What can I say? The ultimate anthem for female unity and sisterly love. Singing of the affection and admiration felt for a best friend, Kathleen Hanna reminds us of the importance of telling the queens of our world how much they mean to us. (Mari Lane)

The Nyx – ‘Myself’
I told you The Nyx would feature on all of our playlists this year! Chuck ‘Myself’ on whenever you start to doubt how great you are. It’s a reminder that you are enough, which is something Mari & Tash are quick to say to me whenever I’m having a bad day. Thanks Grrrls. (Kate Crudgington)

Chromatics – ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’
A great cover of a great track. ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ always reminds me of a story about this 60 year old Italian woman who walked into her local fire station as she was having trouble with her lock. When the firemen asked the woman where she lived, thinking she’d locked herself out of her house, she lifted her sweater and showed them her chastity belt. (Tash Walker)

Chastity Belt – ‘Joke’
Which leads me nicely on to my next track by Chastity Belt. This was one of the bands I discovered at the start of Get In Her Ears, all those years ago, and just reminds me so much of what it was like at the start of it all. Three years on here’s to my two GIHE gals Mari & Kate, and all of the jokes we’ve had along the way. (TW)

Wolf Alice – ‘Bros’
Taken from their knockout debut album My Love Is Cool, ‘Bros’ is one of my favourite Wolf Alice tracks. The video shows two young girls eating chips, colouring each others nails in with felt tip pens, and climbing trees; all past-times my siblings & I used to indulge in as kids. Waves of nostalgic joy smother me every time I hear this beautiful track. (KC)

Kesha – ‘Bastards’ 
What would a GIHE playlist be without a Kesha choice from me…? “Don’t let the bastards get you down, don’t let the assholes wear you out.” – wise words from the artist, and ones which we’ve all recited to our friends as we’ve hugged and sought strength from each other during tough times. (ML)

Pretenders – ‘Alone’
I was lucky enough to see the Pretenders live last year, and they opened their Hammersmith Apollo set with this anthem of independence. Chrissie Hynde is the ultimate example of a woman making her way through the world with talent, stamina, and absolutely no apologies. (KC)

Shirley Ellis – ‘Soul Time’
I love this song, it’s just so much fun and completely infectious. Shirley Ellis often unfairly categorised as a novelty act by many music historians has a well earned place in the history of American soul.  Funky, sophisticated and sassy.  All the sisterly love for her! (TW)

Miss Eaves – ‘Thunder Thighs’ 
This is a fantastically empowering and uplifting anthem for all us gals – encouraging us to celebrate and take pride our body, whatever shape or size it may be. Thank you, Miss Eaves, for this wonderful lesson in self-love. (ML)

TLC – ‘No Scrubs’
This track is almost a decade old, but it’s still the best thing to spin after you’ve been mugged off by a fuckboy, or when you’re getting ready to paint the town red with your girl gang. (KC)

Ji Nilsson & Marlene – ‘Love You Anyway’
Released back in 2014 this was the first song that jumped to mind for this Galentine’s Day playlist, Love You Anyway is all about female friendship. The lyrics speak of solidarity but with a slight note of sadness, combined with the enchanting quality to the music the whole thing intertwined together is mesmerising. (TW)

Nicki Minaj & Beyonce – ‘Feeling Myself’ 
This perfect collaboration between Queen B and Nicki Minaj offers a super uplifting and witty message of self confidence and female unity, with a massive middle finger up to society’s expectations of girls having to be ‘good’/modest in order to be respected. (ML)

Peaches – ‘Boys Wanna Be Her’ 
Although each track on the incredible Impeach My Bush is a pretty hard-hitting, empowering masterpiece, ‘Boys Wanna Be Her’ is just a perfect celebratory anthem; as Peaches explains – “It’s just a celebration. Seriously. I want it to be like a post-gender and post-age celebration of becoming who you are.” (ML)

Dream Nails – ‘LoveFuck’
Dream Nails are all about self love and sisterhood, and I never get tired of their music or their inspiring activism. Whether you’re newly single, happily single, or fed up of being single: this track is designed to restore your faith in the good fucks again. Hang in there girls. They’re out there waiting for ya. (KC)

Deap Vally – ‘Smile More’ 
I just love this powerful and refreshingly tongue-in-cheek offering from this incredible duo. With lyrics such as “I am not ashamed of my mental state/And I am not ashamed of my body weight…”, ‘Smile More’ is the perfect motivational mantra that incites in me a strength to get up and face the world. (ML)

Savages – ‘When In Love’
I remember scoring last minute tickets to see Savages’ sold out Roundhouse gig back in 2016 and feeling so excited I nearly threw up at my desk. I went on my own to see them in the flesh, and it was one of the best things I’ve ever witnessed. I’ll always remember Jehnny Beth telling her crowd that this track was about knowing how love is going to fuck you up, but you should have the nerve to go ahead and pursue it anyway. A reckless, but  brilliant piece of advice. (KC)

Carole King – ‘You’ve Got A Friend’ 
Having sung this at my loved ones many a time, ‘You’ve Got A Friend’ fills me with emotion on each listen. An uplifting message of unity and platonic love, Carole King once again continues to inspire me, my mother before me, and women everywhere, with this beautiful, heartfelt anthem. (ML)