Rock polymaths, Nova Twins, take us through the peaks and troughs of their beginnings, how self-expression can shine through the stereotypes and being nominated at the AIM Awards 2022.
Sisters can come in all shapes and forms. Whether that’s the perennial empire-building of Solange and Beyoncé Knowles; the scheming long lost twins of Parent Trap; or the magical music makers that are twins Ibeyi – there is an indisputable force in sisterhood. Nova Twins may not related by blood per se, but as a duo they offer real sisterhood, a critical component of their enduring legacy.
The pair recently received a double nomination at the upcoming AIM Awards, a body dedicated to championing independent artists, labels and outstanding individuals. Their nominations for Best Independent Track and UK Independent Breakthrough artist come alongside a previous involvement in AIM’s long-term partnership with POWER UP, an initiative supporting black music creators, industry professionals and executives to address anti-black racism and racial disparities in the music sector.
On our video call, Nova Twins’ Amy and Georgia are as sweet and spirited as one would expect, calmly allowing one another to answer each question. When it comes to the female leads in their lives, Amy – who was raised in Essex to an Iranian mother – and Georgia – to a lineage of Jamaican women in London– credit those very personalities for their determination and tenacity in tackling any obstacle they might meet. Producing music in the rock music realm, far too frequently viewed as a predominantly male-led genre, the recent surge of avant-garde alt-rock duos like Nova Twins marks an undeniable shift in the musical stratosphere.
What started as a magnetic friendship in their adolescent years soon turned into an essential safety-net for the pair, as well as a secure base to explore uncharted waters as they both took their first dive into the industry. Releasing their debut EP in 2017, the duo have since achieved a myriad of accomplishments: from joining the likes of Tom Morello and Wolf Alice on tour; to winning Best Music Video at the Heavy Music Awards for ‘Taxi’; and more recently a nomination for Best Independent track and UK Independent Breakthrough at the AIM Awards after returning to the stage this year in support of Bring Me The Horizon and taking festivals by storm. Their sophomore album ‘Supernova’ was released in June this year and has skyrocketed their stardom to new heights.
Swimming against the tide has become part of Nova Twins’ blueprint as they stomp through stereotypes wearing their bovver boots, brandishing their DIY style with a merited sense of pride. Read the full conversation below:
With the predominant festival season coming to a close you’ve now had a chance to roadtest your latest album, the incredible and explosive Supernova. How have the crowds reacted to the new music?
Georgia: It’s really great to be able to play this album and tour it because obviously our first album got cut short by the pandemic. So releasing this album and getting into it, going on tour, playing festivals here in full fruition. It’s been amazing.
Amy: It’s really cool just to see the different audience reactions. We ride it for life, we ride it for that moment to be able to do it on stage. So, for us, that’s the reward at the end of the album – getting to perform them for the crowds.
I could imagine some crazy things happen at your shows when you give so much unabated energy on stage. Have you ever witnessed some bizarre scenes in the mosh?
G: I think we were at Boomtown and somebody brought out a dildo, maybe a balloon gun or something like that? And then somebody else was cartwheeling in that same mosh pit. But that’s just Boomtown for you!
A: We make sure when people are in mosh pits that everyone’s looking out for each other – and our audience is really good at lifting each other up and having a good time, while not taking it overboard. Everyone’s so helpful, which we love; but then when people lose things, everyone stops and gathers around like someone’s hurt themselves, but then it turns out to be someone’s f*cking glasses or something. And we’re both there thinking ‘what’s happened?!’. And then there’s someone putting on their glasses. Like ‘I just lost my glasses, it’s all good!’.
G: Then everyone’s shouting, ‘yaaaay, glasses!’
So talk to me about this latest album, ‘Supernova’. Are there any stories behind the process?
A: When we were writing ‘Choose Your Fighter‘ we had about 24 hours, so when were getting really tired we snuck away into the dining room to the sofa. One of us played Britney Spears’, “Work Bitch”, through our phone and stuck it in the other one’s ear as motivation. With Britney was in the background singing.. ‘you want a Lamborghini/ Sip martinis?…’. we carried on. That song literally got us through the end of the album!
Britney Spears was a motivational speaker through tough times! You’ve mentioned working on that album since the pandemic, and it seems like you’ve been at it non-stop – winning awards, killing it at festivals. Do you feel like you’ve had a moment to properly take in these accomplishments?
G: Definitely, when amazing things happen like that we always make sure we thank the universe in some way. And we really do appreciate it. Especially the awards, like the Heavy Music Awards are fan-voted, so even when we won the Best Video award, we were so shocked because we were in there with big people. And then the Mercury’s, that was like a massive pinch-me-moment. Because ever since we were young, we’d run and look at the shortlist and be thinking one day, we’re going to be on there. And now people are saying we’re the heaviest band to ever be shortlisted! We just think it’s amazing and we’ll never take it for granted.
It’s clear you’ve become a huge inspiration for others to take the same leap into embracing their truest form. Does this ever create a sense of pressure to be advocates for those voices which are shouting to be heard?
A: I don’t think there’s pressure per se, I think we just do it because it’s natural. We want to try and do what we can to help, the world is such a big place and you can’t take on everything. I think when BLM happened, we were thinking this is such a big problem and we felt overwhelmed; you suddenly think what can we do? How are we going to fix it? And of course, you can’t fix the whole thing. But if everyone does a little bit in their corner and in their area, then bit by bit, you can start healing and piecing the bits together that are broken. And that’s what we decided to do.
We’re in music and it’s more than just the music that we’re putting out; it’s representation; it’s making sure that the next generation feel like they’ve got options. In our case, it’s the option to embrace rock and alt music. But it means more than that, it means that if you can be a young black kid, or a brown kid and say ‘I was told that I couldn’t be rock and alt, but now I can – that will also be a knock-on effect to other things in their life. And that’s what we’re just trying to do – is to give people more options, and to show more representation for people who feel marginalised. We just want everyone to have a space. We’re just carving them out slowly, but surely in the best way that we can.
You’ve talked in the past of hurdles you both had to overcome early in your careers. Having come such a long way have you encountered any new hurdles?
G: If if we look at when we first started, the industry didn’t fully understand our band, or where it could be placed. They just didn’t get it. But I do feel like now, in the UK, people are understanding it more. We’ve been given the opportunity to be put on other platforms that didn’t necessarily have us before and it’s nice to see that kind of change. The real change will be when it’s not a shock that a festival has a diverse lineup that year, or it’s not even a thought. This diversity is just how it is and should be, when it just becomes natural and normal and people don’t have to think twice about it. One leap at a time…
A: Exactly! The music, the fashion industry, we’re taking it all, and we will get there.
What are some examples of creative materials or media you look to for inspiration?
A: I guess inspiration can come from anywhere. We always say a lot of the women in our family have been such a big influence on us in the way they hold themselves strong. But also movies, we were really into watching things like Clueless, Mean Girls, any fiction, and we like to put a twist on it so it’s might be like a horror movie of Clueless and Mean Girls put together [laughs]… it can come from anywhere really.
G: Even action movies, like Marvel. For example with the ‘Taxi’ music video or ‘Choose Your Fighter’ – that was our dreams of being in a f*cking sci-fi action film, slaying like Kill Bill [laughs].
You mentioned the woman in your family, sometimes we need a family or a tribe who you feel will motivate you when the confidence isn’t quite there or when you’re not quite feeling like both feet are on the ground. What has it meant for you both to have grown and come up in music alongside each other?
A: We’re very lucky that we have each other. For one, because internally we feel like we’re the dream band; we just get on, it’s very easy for us. We’ve never argued in our life and obviously, we’re like sisters, so we still get on each other’s nerves but it’s just silly things like chewing too loud.
G: Absolutely. And I feel like there’s the rise of the duo – more people are becoming duos because they just know it’s so much easier.
Growing up in both London and Essex respectively, how do you feel those experiences impact the way in which you create and the music you make today?
A: It wasn’t diverse at all. When I was growing up it just wasn’t as mixed, but now you go there and it is different. And don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely a conservative feel about it, but it wasn’t diverse and I had to navigate that differently. I didn’t grow up thinking, ‘Oh, I love my hair texture’ or, ‘I love my skin’ because I didn’t fit in with anyone. And it wasn’t till I left there to go to college in London when I was 16 and everything was just so different that it was like I’d been living under a rock and suppressed. It was amazing just to experience different people and just the exchange of cultural differences and music. But it all went into it, that whole experience of growing up in Essex was a massive part of my foundation for sure.
G: I think people always say as well, we mix genres so well. And they’ll ask how we do it, but for us, we don’t really see it like that because we’re both mixed-race women. We’ve both grown up mixing our cultures together naturally. So when we’re writing music it doesn’t feel like it’s two separate entities of different types of musical genres. It feels like it’s a natural flowing part of who we are. So it’s like our music is mixed race [laughs]
Rock is also fundamentally Black music in its origins – people like Chuck Berry for example. Do you feel like this embrace in the resurgence of rock has similar foundations to its origins?
A: 100% it’s from that era of Rhythm and Blues. Those songs were written about what Black people were going through in America – there’s plenty of soul and a lot of fierceness and truth to it. Inevitably, that evolved, people like Sister Rosetta Tharpe, who was one of the first people to experiment with distortion, she was doing rock before any of the men and she was a black woman. Obviously, loads of other bands helped pioneer the sound and took it in different directions culturally; in the UK we also took it in different directions. But the roots of it are in rhythm and blues and I think people forget that. All the black pioneers got lost along the way.
Looking back, what advice would you give yourself when you first started putting your music out?
G: I think when we first started, you might think you need a massive major label deal or somebody has to come and save you. But the reality is you can do so much yourself. And we were just so DIY to the point where we could probably get people to help out, paint a set design for example, but we actually just love doing it ourselves. Because the DIY culture of it all is just so deep within us.
So I’d say don’t feel pressure to think that just because this isn’t happening, or these people aren’t listening to us that you’re not successful, or what you’re doing isn’t very good. For a long time, people didn’t say that what we were doing was anything special. We just kept moving along and we continued to love what we were doing and what we were putting out. So just make sure you love what you’re putting out and there’ll be people that will come to see that for themselves.