INTERVIEW: Nova Twins

Almost a year after the release of their debut album Who Are The Girls?, alt-rock duo Nova Twins have returned to share Voices Of The Unheard, a charity compilation LP that’s dedicated to spotlighting artists of colour in the heavy music scene. Available to pre-order until 1st March, Nova Twins, aka Amy Love and Georgia South, have put together a blistering collection of alternative anthems that showcase an eclectic range of talent, featuring tracks from Big Joanie, The OBGMs, LustSickPuppy and more.

We caught up with Amy & Georgia to talk about the new compilation record (supported by Dr Martens Presents), their ongoing conversations about racism in the heavy music scene, their dedication to the underground music community and a shared love for DeathKult leaders Ho99o9…

Make sure you pre-order your copy of Voices for the Unheard here.

Hello Amy & Georgia! It’s been almost a year since you released your debut album, Who Are The Girls? What are you most proud of about this record? Did you get to play any live shows with it before Covid-19 hit?

Georgia: I feel most proud about the amount of people we’ve reached. We get messages that say stuff like “I’m so glad we’ve discovered you” or “we can see ourselves in you, and we can be something different too” because they’re seeing us play a different type of music to what people are used to seeing black women play, you know? When we won the Heavy Music Award last year too, it felt like a big achievement to us, because of what we look like. It was such a big moment for the band, but it was also a big moment for our community as well, so that was great.

Amy: We did manage to tour the record a little bit in March and April last year. We were in France for about nine days, which was great, so at least we got to experience a little bit of the live buzz and the kick you usually get out of making an album. But yeah, we were supposed to play Glastonbury and Reading & Leeds and all these new places for the first time, so we were a little bit gutted that we never got to play the album there.

I think people are listening and paying attention in a different way though. Yes, we’re more online than ever, but I think we can reach more countries and reach more communities this way. I think we’ve discovered a lot of different things and we’ve got to know our audience a lot better. I think the album’s actually done better because of the reach it’s had online, as opposed to us just gigging. Everyone’s in a different headspace now. I think it’s been really, really amazing to take a step back and just get to know our audience and watch them enjoying it as much as we enjoyed making it.

That’s true, people have been really appreciative of new music over the last twelve months.

Another amazing thing that you did in 2020, you wrote an open letter to the MOBO Awards asking the panel to consider adding a Rock/Alternative category to their awards show. They acknowledged your letter with a tweet saying they’re working towards representing alternative music genres in the future. How do you feel about their response?

Amy: I think we still have to now push for it to happen this year. We have to take into account that we’re still struggling through this pandemic and there’s issues with funding and things like that, but I think this is a time to push in the right direction. We’ve got people’s eyes and ears on us now more than ever and people are listening. We just have to keep pushing.

You also started up your Voices For The Unheard platform last year, which was originally a series of Spotify playlists and conversations online highlighting artists of colour in the alternative music scene. That’s now developed into a compilation LP funded by Dr Martens Presents, which is amazing! Did you have a record release in mind when you originally started the platform? Or did it develop naturally?

Georgia: I think it really was a natural evolution, it just kept escalating. It started from the playlist on Spotify and then we thought, why don’t we just chat to these people on our Instagram and have a conversation with them and discover their journey? We ended up having so much in common, even though we’re from different sides of the world, we have this similar feeling being a POC alternative artist on this journey. So that was great to see our audience discover them, as well and for us to meet so many new bands too. When Dr. Martens reached out to us and asked if we wanted to do something with them on a bigger level, that was where the vinyl idea stemmed from. We thought it would be amazing to raise money for The Black Curriculum and to push all of these artists we’d selected and to give them more exposure as well.

As you’ve mentioned, all proceeds from the physical release of Voices For The Unheard will be donated to The Black Curriculum, a charity that addresses the lack of black British history in the UK curriculum. How did you find out about this charity and the work that they do?

Amy: I think it came up on our social media last year when the Black Lives Matter movement started to happen again. All these forums and websites and Instagram pages started popping up. I think before that, we felt quite isolated. It didn’t feel that there was much of a community here for us to join, everything felt sporadic. I remember when AfroPunk held their first London festival at Alexandra Palace and we had all these incredible POC creatives artists and fashion designers turn up, and we were like, where did all these people come from? Because we don’t see them here. We didn’t feel like there was much of a community that we could just go to and feel like accepted, I guess.

So around the time of the BLM movement last year, everyone start reaching out to each other – all of us, no matter where you were from – sharing websites and discovering a whole new world that we didn’t really know existed. I think The Black Curriculum popped up through that and we just thought there was some really interesting stuff on there. We actually had to relearn and are still re-learning our black history. So we just think it’s really, really important for organisations like them to exist.

I grew up in Essex. I’m from Thurrock, and I was probably like, one of maybe two black people in my class? I remember my teacher saying, specifically, “black people are slaves, that’s where they come from, slavery.” Not saying why that might actually be, or how terrible slavery was. So I was like, “Oh, I used to be that?” I remember being quite embarrassed. I was just a kid! You just don’t know any better, you know? My parents are Iranian, so I grew up with my Iranian family. So I was immersed in that culture, but I wasn’t necessarily immersed in my kind of blackness, I guess, until I met Georgia’s family.

It was just painted that white people saved us here in Britain and how great the British Empire was, and how they decided to free us. It was a really strange and backwards way to learn your history.

Georgia: I grew up in London, so it was really diverse at my school. But when it came to black history, all they showed us was the Roots documentary. They said that slavery was bad, but they didn’t teach any other black history. Nothing about black kings and queens and how rich they were. That’s all I took from school.

I guess that’s why The Black Curriculum is so important isn’t it? I grew up in Essex too and I don’t remember anything about black history on the syllabus. Hopefully organisations like this will be able to change that for school kids in the future.

The Voices For The Unheard vinyl has been funded by Dr Martens Presents. What does it mean to you to have this kind of support from such an iconic brand?

Georgia: Dr Martens are our favourite shoe brand, we literally wear them every day. They’re a massive corporation, so their connection to underground music is so helpful. Even with the people that they put on their adverts, they could easily pick a bigger artist but they want to support new bands and they’re always searching for new music, which is refreshing.

Amy: I think it really makes sense for us because we genuinely love the brand. I mean, I could show my feet right now – I’m wearing DMs! It’s a natural alliance and it’s just great for us to be able to have a company invest in ideas support in the community in such a way so it’s brilliant, a really good match.

They’re so good at spotlighting new bands. I remember coming out of Camden tube station about three years ago and seeing the Dr Martens campaign that featured Ho99o9. They had posters of the band all the way up the escalators in the station and all over town, it was so good!

Amy: Yes, we love Ho99o9!

Georgia: I remember seeing the posters too, they were so good!

When it comes to the track-list for the album, how did you narrow it down to 11 songs? Your Voices For The Unheard Spotify Playlists are so extensive, it must have been hard to choose only ten artists?

Georgia: It was really hard! We were like “can’t we have 14 people on the record, please!?” I think many of the people on the track-list are the artists we first discovered and chatted to, so all of the people we’ve had online conversations with are on there. It was really difficult to be honest. We would have added like ten more if we could…

Amy: Exactly. We picked artists like Connie Constance who we love and feel like she is deserving of so much more. There’s obviously bigger artists that we love like Ho99o9 and FEVER333, but they’re kind of big already, so we tried to focus on people who may have not had that kind of kickstart or any kind of attention just yet. We wanted to explore the idea of new bands making new exciting sounds, and who have a new take on things, so we’re just really proud of them all.

Georgia: We wanted to be diverse as well, so there’s a mixture of non-binary and trans artists as well as artists from different cultures on there too.

It’s an amazing album and I can’t wait to get my hands on a physical copy.

So, what else is on the cards for Nova Twins this year? Any new music from you after this compilation release?

Amy: I feel like you never know what’s next for Nova. It’s so funny being in this band, I love it. One day we’ll be sitting there twiddling our thumbs and then suddenly, we’ll just run with this massive new idea. I think there’ll be loads of stuff that we’ll be putting out there, just trying to make shit happen for the community, and also just for us as two girls living in the UK, with a fucking dream, trying to get somewhere.

I think 2021 is going to be good. We’re excited about the new stuff we’re making and excited to join alliances with more artists. I feel like there’s strength in the artists joining together, as opposed to us being competitive with each other.Exciting times!

Thanks so much to Amy & Georgia for chatting with us!

Pre-order your copy of Voices for the Unheard here.

Follow Nova Twins on Spotify, Twitter, Instagram & Facebook

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Introducing Interview: Tender Central

Having previously worked with the likes of Ben Howard and A Blaze Of A Feather, classically trained cellist and songwriter India Bourne – aka Tender Central – has just released her poignant debut album The Garden. 

Creating rich layers of twinkling electronic folk-pop, the album showcases Bourne’s reflective, emotive lyrical storytelling and a sweeping, ethereal musicality.

We caught up with India to find out more about the album, and how she’s been managing to continue creating and releasing music during a pandemic…

Hi India, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a musician, songwriter and mum of one, nearly two (second coming in a couple of weeks!). I am passionate about nature, food, running, wild swimming and period dramas. I am an emotional person with a great curiosity about the world and people and how we all work. I feel music is a fundamental part of me; nothing else makes me feel the way music does when I am in the flow of performing or writing. 

How did you initially decide to start creating music?
It feels like the urge to write and play music has been there from a very young age. I think it became just another way of expressing myself and my thoughts and feelings. I believe music is innate in all of us though, as is dance, art and all forms of the creative arts. I see this so clearly when watching my toddler and my nieces and nephews navigate the world. The way they play and sing all day; it’s undeniable to me. I was also lucky to be brought up in a musical family where music was a daily activity. We all played an instrument, and growing up in a small house with 3 other sisters, we couldn’t get far away from each other! So there was always a lot of noise and activity going on. My dad was a composer and ran an accapella choir which my mum also sung in, so we’d regularly go and watch them perform. I took up the cello aged ten and have played ever since, thanks to my mum for nudging me that direction when she felt I really needed something to get my teeth into.

You’ve just released your beautifully poignant debut album The Garden – are there any particular themes running throughout it?
Thank you for describing it that way. It was interesting looking at the whole body of work with a bit of space once it had been completely finished. It became quickly apparent to me that there was a strong theme and narrative in there, and it all led to the song ‘The Garden’ which is the last track on the record and possibly my favourite. The album took the best part of a decade to make and spanned a time in my life when I was very busy touring with Ben Howard and later Ry X and A Blaze Of Feather, so I had little time at home and even shorter times to ground myself and write music. Although I loved performing all over the world, this desire to find my ‘home’, my stability, my ground and my peace amongst the constant movement is a strong theme in this album. There is a lot of emotional turbulence in many of the tracks where I see the light as well as the dark, but in ‘The Garden’ I feel I reached my place of belonging and calm. The song acknowledges challenge and hard times, but is deeply rooted in my sense of “everything is ok!” The blue sky above the clouds; the peace always within me, but “hard to learn” as I sing in the song. I wrote it whilst off tour, digging the small patch of earth in my garden flat in London, shoving bulbs into the ground and heaving a fork through the earth. I needed to find quiet in myself, and here is where I found it. 

How are you connecting with your audience and other musicians during the pandemic?
I’ve never been more grateful for technology than I have been this past year! It’s been a lifeline socially and musically. Musicians have created so many new ways to share work and be creative during this time, I’ve found it really uplifting and inspiring. Online gigs, live streams, Zoom choirs… It’s been really awesome. And at the same time I am craving those days of performing live and talking face to face with people. I was lucky enough to record and film four live tracks from the record back in September with a full band and crew, knowing that the possibility to do an album tour or album release show would be unlikely. So, I am very happy to be sharing these with my audience via social media now the album is out, and to be able to still engage in conversation despite the distance between us all.

And has there been anything/anyone specific that has been inspiring you, or helping to motivate you, throughout these strange times?
Yes!
My 3 year old. His joy in the everyday and his focus on the present has gotten me through some really challenging times during the pandemic. Spending such quality time with him has been the best reminder to not get swept away in thought or worry, but just to be and to appreciate what’s around me. He also has such a great sense of humour, we are always cracking up!
My producer James. His faith in me and my music from the early days has made releasing this album possible. He has been unwavering in his support and has been a core part of Tender Central from the beginning.
My dad. He and I speak the same musical language and whenever I have been stuck, he has been my rock.
Nature. Being in the wild outdoors and swimming in the local river has been deeply nourishing and inspiring. Often when I have hit a wall all I’ve needed to do was get my wellies on and head to the woods for a walk, or the river to swim. The answers always come! 

How do you feel the music industry is for new artists at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?
Every sector of the industry has been affected by the pandemic and some have had to almost completely shut down because of it, so certainly at the moment I would say it’s difficult to get noticed or breakthrough, yes. But at the same time there is a greater thirst from the online community for artists to produce something because we are all missing gigs and face to face interaction, so there’s an opportunity in that. So, although the industry is much quieter, there’s a lot going on in the background I believe, and people definitely haven’t stopped writing or releasing music. We are all just doing it differently than before. Certainly, even without the pandemic, it’s not easy getting heard as new artists, especially if you’re only just starting out. There’s so much you have to do yourself to build your profile; not least working on your own music, but also having a strong online presence, being in touch with your fanbase, getting good PR, having good press shots… I haven’t had a manager for a couple of years and it’s definitely harder to get noticed, but not impossible! You need a good and supportive team around you. Whether that be your family and friends and a few contacts in the industry, or a manager/label/agent etc. Most importantly, you need faith in yourself, that what you are creating is worthy to be heard/seen/experienced and the drive to see it through. 

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any other upcoming artists that you’d recommend we check out?
Absolutely. Over the last six years I’ve worked with the most amazing vocalist/pianist/songwriter, Greta Vaughan, on her music. You must check her out here. Her lyrics are poetry and her music is complex and deep and incredibly heartfelt. I feel every song of hers is such a journey and she definitely demanded a lot of me as a player and collaborator, which was fantastic and invigorating. Her debut record is soon to be released, I can’t wait.

Finally, what does 2021 have in store for Tender Central?
Firstly, the birth of my second child! It’s very much on my mind at the moment, given there’s not long to go now. I will understandably be very focussed on my family this year, but at the same time I am eager to see how this album will unfold and what life it will have. I have just finished a short piece for a film commission and I am already planning on recording and filming the next set of live tracks from The Garden later this year, all being well. And I am also excited about doing more collaborations. I find that way of working so inspiring and surprising; you just never know what’s going bubble up or what direction a song is going to go in. Keeps life very fresh and exciting. 

Massive thanks to India for answering our questions! 

 

Tender Central’s latest album, The Garden, is out now via Hello Friendly Recordings. Listen on Spotify.

Photo Credit: Harvey Pearson

Interview: The Anchoress

Having released her debut album Confessions of a Romance Novelist back in 2016, multi-instrumentalist The Anchoress has been involved in various projects all whilst creating her upcoming second LP The Art of Losing through unforeseen challenges. We spoke with The Anchoress to find out more about her surprise collaboration with Bernard Butler, which was released last year, and what we can expect from the second album.

We’re looking forward to your upcoming album The Art of Losing, how did you face the challenge of creating and promoting an album through lockdown?
I actually finished the album way before the pandemic hit – back in 2019, but I needed a bit of time out before I was ready to have it come out in the world. It was originally due to be released in Spring 2020 but, of course, we needed to adjust our plans once circumstances took over and Covid took a hold. I have really been very lucky as I have my own studio at home so I’ve been able to continue creating and recording without having to leave the house since then – the result of which was Reprise 2, the “quarantine” covers that were released via my Bandcamp. I’ve been shielding since March, so it’s been a necessity really to be able to carry on working from here.

So far we’ve been enjoying your single ‘Show Your Face’, what else can we expect from the album?
I was listening to a lot of Depeche Mode, The Cure, Twilight Sad and Bjork, so you can expect something darker and more dense than the debut album. As I was writing and producing alone for this one I feel like it is certainly more coherent and purposeful as a body of work too. You can expect fourteen tracks in total which I realise is quite a meaty offering these days for an album, but it just kept growing and growing. I was writing a lot more in the classical vein when I was recording the album, and these began as little instrumental segues that just sort of took on a life of their own as I began experimenting. There’s also many more traditional “singles” on there alongside these more experimental pieces. Lots of vintage synths (on which I wrote most of the album) and tonnes more of me playing guitar than people are used to!

The Art of Losing is centred around loss. How did you balance being honest and open with protecting your own privacy?
I think it’s always important to have some boundaries when you are creating and sharing any kind of pain or grief with the wider public. I had a lot of trauma-based therapy over the past two years and there were certainly discussions about how much I felt I wanted to share and what I would let the songs speak about. Safety and health always comes first obviously and you don’t owe anyone all the details of your trauma – you get to decide what is too much and what is helpful to share. Also, that is what songwriting is for – it enables you to be both honest but also leave space for the listener’s own experience to fill in the gaps. It’s a fine tightrope to walk, especially when you are keen to talk about subjects that people shy away from – sexual assault, baby loss, death. I’m not sure any of us entirely get the balance right, but that’s what I have found particularly challenging about the project, and also equally frightening. I’m a very private person and it was certainly not the album I had intended to make, and yet I am very proud of it as the body of work that it turned out to be.

You also launched a podcast series by the same title. What inspired you to open up the conversation?
I really wanted to delve deeper into some of the ideas and different cultural reactions to loss that I had encountered during my writing. I also felt that I wanted to connect, perhaps selfishly, with other people that had gone through both similar and different kinds of loss. It was part of my own journey, and healing, really to have these conversations and remind myself that I wasn’t the only one. Songs can only go so far to explore themes and concepts and I wanted to hear from other perspectives and experiences that dovetailed with my own. It’s been such a healing experience recording the first series and I’ve made some lovely new friends as a consequence. I’m hoping to begin recording season two shortly.

You surprised us all in 2020 with In Memory of My Feelings, an album in which you collaborated with Bernard Butler. How long had you both been sitting on that project?
We had finished writing the album in 2015 and the bulk of the recordings were done before Confessions… even came out! It has been a long wait for it to find the right home with the right label that understood what it was about but I’m so glad in a way that it took the time it did because without that long delay we wouldn’t have ended up on Pete Paphides’ label Needle Mythology. If you believe that everything happens for a reason, then the wait was worth it to find such a thoughtful label that knew exactly what Bernard and I had been trying to do with the collaboration. The packaging is beautiful, there was such attention to detail about everything in the artwork. I hear that there is talk of a repress of the vinyl as it sold out so quickly!

What advice would you give to musicians during these uncertain times? Have you been offered any advice which you can share with us?
Oh goodness, I’m not sure I’m the best person to give advice! I’ve made so many mistakes along the way. I’m also not certain that my advice would have changed that much to when I was starting out myself: try to be as self sufficient as possible. Make it your business to understand all aspects of releasing music – not just the creative side. Teach yourself to record – even if it’s just the basics. Apply for funding. Practice your craft. Make good work. Remember why you are doing this. 

As we’re a new music site, which bands or artists can you recommend that we keep an ear out for in the year ahead?
I’m currently producing a few really talented up and coming artists – Tega Mendes is one who I am really excited about. She has a wonderful approach to arrangement, a fabulous voice and a really unique set of influences.

Huge thanks to The Anchoress for answering our questions! 

 

The Art Of Losing, the upcoming album from The Anchoress, is set for release in March this year. Pre-order here.

Introducing Interview: Cristina Hart

Swiss-born London based artist Cristina Hart has previously charmed audiences playing for the likes of Sofar Sounds, as well as receiving acclaim from Amazing Radio’s Shell Zenner and Charlie Ashcroft, and has now shared an uplifting new single.

Taken from her new EP, ‘Will You’ flows with twinkling keys alongside Hart’s soaring, impassioned vocals, creating a heartfelt slice of alt-pop.

We caught up with Cristina to find out more!

Hi Cristina, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Of course! I’ve been writing and gigging my own songs for the past four years now and this year I finally released original music – it feels so good to finally share these songs! I released three singles and the fourth track ‘Will You’ from my debut EP Sell a Dream finally came out today. My music is indie-pop with quirky, relatable lyrics and upbeat productions, except for the fourth track of the EP which strips away the veneer and lets the emotional lyrics and vocals take centre stage.

How did you start creating music?
About four years ago I moved to London because I wanted to pursue a career in music and since then I’ve got to meet so many creative, talented people. I absolutely love the community here and really enjoy co-writing my songs and working with different writers and producers I click with!

Your new EP Sell a Dream is out now – can you tell us what it’s all about? Are there any themes running throughout the EP?
Yes, there are actually! I wanted to explore the labels that attempt to define us and the importance we attach to them. It’s so easy for people – or even ourselves – to think we’re “too this or that” and this way of thinking is really restrictive when you think about it. Attempting to define ourselves is by definition limiting, which is why I wanted to take some labels that had been thrown at me and play around with them to show that we can not let them mean too much and redefine ourselves every single day.

You’ve been compared to the likes of Demi Lovato and Emily Burns, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
Thanks so much! This constantly changes to be honest as I love discovering new music all the time. For this EP, I would say that my biggest influences are Lauv, Zara Larsson and Alessia Cara. At the moment, I’m really loving more indie-alt pop songwriters like Phoebe Bridgers, Holly Humberstone, Lauren Aquilina and, of course, the Folklore album by Taylor Swift!

In ‘normal’ times, how is your local music scene? Do you go to see lots of live music?
With COVID, things have obviously been so shaken up that it’s quite hard imagining them starting again soon – I still have my fingers crossed though! I’m local between London and Essex and pre-COVID days I would go to or perform at gigs about three times a week. Watching live music is so inspiring and it always motivates me to keep working on my craft.

And what can fans expect from your live shows?
I would say expect some amazing energy and music from my all-female band – they are all badass musicians! We’ve worked on some really cool arrangements and there’s some sing-alongs too, which is always fun! I’m so lucky and grateful to get to gig with them and can’t wait til we get started again!

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any new/upcoming bands or artists you’d recommend we check out?
Oh my, where to start, there are so many!! But a few of my suggestions would be Maisie Peters, Griff, Emily Burns, GRACEY, The Valla and UPSAHL.

And how do you feel the music industry is for new bands at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?
Now that we can’t gig and every artist has turned to social media, it feels even harder to rise above the noise and it’s more difficult to meet new people / network than it usually is. But there are definitely new ways of getting noticed that artists like myself need to explore and experiment with! I feel that the best way to use social media is to literally be social, meet people and have real conversations with them instead of simply using it as a self-promotion tool.

Finally, what does the rest of 2020 have in store for Cristina Hart?
Now that it’s coming close to an end I would say the EP release is the main thing! I’ll be posting in the coming weeks some snippets from the creative process of recording this EP – I can’t wait! 

Big thanks to Cristina for answering our questions!

 

Cristina Hart’s new EP, Sell A Dream, is out now.