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

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

ALBUM: Nova Twins Presents ‘Voices For The Unheard’

A year after the release of their debut album Who Are The Girls?, Nova Twins have returned to share Voices Of The Unheard, a charity compilation LP that’s bursting with righteous energy. Driven by their desire to spotlight the work of underrepresented artists of colour in the heavy music scene, the duo (formed of Amy Love and Georgia South) have put together a blistering collection of alternative anthems that showcase an eclectic, tenacious range of talent.

Following their ‘Voices For The Unheard’ Spotify Playlists, an open letter to the MOBO Awards and their online conversations about racism and sexism in music, Nova Twins naturally gravitated towards curating an album that followed up these narratives. Dr Martens Presents (a multi-disciplinary initiative supporting emerging creative talent) brought their idea of a record to life, providing the funding for the physical release of the compilation on limited edition vinyl via Blood Records. Voices For The Unheard is only available for pre-order until 1st March and all profits will be donated to The Black Curriculum, a charitable initiative working to get black history on the UK school syllabus. It’s a deeply political record in many ways, but it’s also a gargantuan distraction from these important issues too.

Amy & Georgia kick things off with their thunderous single ‘Taxi’, filled with Nova Twins‘ trademark distorted bass lines, jagged riffs and ferocious lyrics. Narrowing the track-list down to twelve must have been tricky, as their stellar Spotify playlists include songs by Ho99o9, Bob Vylan, Sampa The Great and Rico Nasty, but the band have tried to give a platform to artists who are rooted in their underground scenes, whether that’s in the UK or further afield.

‘All My Friends’ by Canadian four-piece The OBGMs is a manic mix of punk and garage rock, followed by the gritty charm of Connie Constance‘s ‘Monty Python’. Her track is probably the quietest on the record, but her skill for subtle song-writing punches just as hard as the the visceral metal & hip hop beats on ‘Cross Me’ by Dallas-based UNITYTX. The track burns with corrosive fury, the final lyric “This is rock music motherfucker!” epitomising what Voices Of The Unheard is all about.

The thumping beats and pulverizing synths on ‘Goatmeal’ by New Yorker LustSickPuppy and the intense punk & rap cacophony ‘Scared’ by duo Death Tour both blitz by in under two minutes. Guttural groans, strung out vocals and feverish riffs fuel ‘Aggressive Evolution’ by Liverpool-based Loathe, and their fury is matched by the genre-defying sounds of ‘Green Vision’ by New Yorkers Oxymorrons, who dominate the ear drums from start to finish.

Brit trio Pussycat and The Dirty Johnsons keep things rolling with their classic rock rhythms on ‘Ain’t No Pussy’, followed by the dense beats and incredible vocals on ‘Trouble’ by North Carolina-based queer/trans artist Khx05, who impresses more each time they’re listened to. Washington rapper Zhariah mixes glitchy beats and candid lyrics on the biting ‘Bitch Boy’ before the infectious rhythms of black feminist punk trio Big Joanie bookend this eclectic mix of rap, rock, punk, metal and electronic music. We’ve waxed lyrical about how much we love Big Joanie before on GIHE, and the infectious rhythms on their Hermitage Works live rendition of ‘Fall Asleep’ still have us chanting the chorus in unison every time.

Listening to Voices for the Unheard should rile you up and re-energise your appetite for heavy music. The album showcases a group of artists who have been galvanized by their individual experiences of discrimination, but who are now united in their attempts to create the authentic, exciting music they wish they had heard growing up. Nova Twins’ battle cry for equality and diversity was loud and clear on Who Are The Girls?, but it’s echoed long after the record’s release. The duo are a force for fun, for fury, and most importantly: for change in an industry that is still dominated by white faces.

You can choose to be part of the solution and help to change this by listening to Voices for the Unheard, following the artists on the track-list and continuing to share the conversations that initially fueled the record’s development.

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

Click on the name of each artist/band to head to their individual Spotify pages.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut