Georgia is wearing Charles Jeffrey checked suit, Christian Dada leather beret, Zana Bayne leather corset belt, Camper Twins mocassins / Amy is wearing Y/Project top and pants, House of Malakai leather hat, Zana Bayne leather harness and chains, Camper Twins mocassins
A MEETING WITH NOVA TWINS
By Alice Butterlin
The Nova Twins are Georgia South and Amy Love, two Londoners who pour their ferocious energy into tracks built on pounding basslines and a lyrical flow akin to rap and grime. Developing a form of punk 2.0, the two musicians call for a revival of music played live, with no gimmicks, scant resources, and a big dose of authenticity. Though their catalog is still limited – they have released just two EPs so far – the duo has already had the privilege of supporting Prophets of Rage (the supergroup composed of members from Rage Against the Machine, Cypress Hill, and Public Enemy), during a concert in Paris. Not bad for newcomers! We met up with them to learn more about their musical universe and background.
You two have known each other for a very long time, but when did you decide to make music together?
Amy: It was always inevitable that we’d end up working together. In the past, we’d worked in different bands but we would intentionally make ourselves book the same gigs on the same nights so we could play together. Georgia would jump on one of my tracks and I would do the same. We were always very in sync with our mutual ideas. We knew we had to form a band because that’s where all the excitement is between us. We did it and it worked out!
Amy, you learned to play guitar quite late.
Amy: Yes. Georgia played bass since forever, but I learned the guitar later on. Basically, it’s never too late, you just have to put the time in. Not long ago, I used to think I would never be able to be up on stage with a guitar but now it just makes sense. It’s nice to have an instrument to add to the vocals. I might learn the saxophone next if I want to.
All your tracks are centered around a thick bassline, it’s your signature sound. Georgia, how did your love for the bass start?
Georgia: I’m not sure. I started out playing piano when I was younger and one day I just decided to pick up the bass. I wanted something more than just the piano. You can kind of hide the bass behind the piano and I liked that because I was quite shy. Suddenly I started to go very loud with the bass and got a distortion pedal. The bass felt right, it always came quite easy. Over the years the pedal collection grew more and more. The sound developed from there.
Are you a pedal nerd?
Georgia: Definitely! I used to go to the pedal shops and try out random stuff, I didn’t even go there for any particular gear. I was just going crazy trying everything in the shop. The new EP is so much different from the first, in terms of different sounds. It’s ever growing. I’m probably going to go shopping this month for another pedal. (laughs) I’ve already outgrown my pedal board, there’s absolutely no more space!
You named your band Nova Twins. In what way do you see yourselves as twins? Do you have a special connection?
Georgia: I think we definitely do. (laughs) If someone is talking to one of us in a separate conversation, they’ll speak to the other one about the same thing and realize we just said exactly the same thing.
Amy: It’s weird, I’ll sit there thinking about something and then Georgia will mention that exact thing. There are so many scary things that happen which make us think we are meant to be twins.
Georgia: When we’re on tour, we share our hotel room and sometimes we dream about the exact same thing! I’ll say, “I saw a puppy in a lake,” and Amy will have seen the same scene, it’s crazy. It’s just because we hang out all the time. (laughs) It’s definitely like a married couple.
Amy: An old married couple.
The term “Urban Punk” has been associated with your band. What does it mean exactly?
Amy: I think people wanted to know how they could label us and that term came up. We agreed with that but that was such a long time ago, in the early days of the band. We now realize that in our writing and our stage performances, it’s much more than that. We just decided to stop putting labels on it. When you start making music, there is a pressure to know exactly what music genre you fall into. Everyone wants to put you in a box. The thing is, even if a band isn’t labelled some way, people still know and understand what it is. They come to the show and each person has its own interpretation of what Nova Twins is to them. It’s a heavy alternative, kind of crazy mish-mash of genres. We just think we sound heavy, that’s the biggest adjective that suits us.
Labeling bands today often doesn’t make sense at a time when no subculture really stands out and instead all influences are constantly mixed.
Georgia: There’s no style associated with specific music anymore, everything is totally mixed.
Amy: That’s why people make up names like New-Wave-RnB, that kind of sound that’s trending on Spotify. People want to find a place to put everything.
If there was a punk scene in 2018, what do you think it would look like?
Amy: I think it would be all the DIY bands who are on the up-and-coming circuit. It would be bands like ourselves and the grime acts all together.
Georgia: Or any artist that makes its own music at home or makes its own videos.
Amy: Overall, punks today would be people who have something to say, who have a strong message. There is that subculture, you can see it in music or expressed through fashion or even art. So many cool things are happening but it’s all bubbling underground. At the moment you have the mainstream, which has a very particular sound. It’s very pop and often has an Ibiza party vibe to it. Then you have the bands that are coming through again. I feel like we are expecting a new wave of bands to have their rightful place in real music. Proper live acts doing live festivals. That’s where we belong and that’s what was so interesting about the 60s and the 70s: so many bands and people coming out to gigs.
How is the underground music scene in London? Here in Paris, there is a bit of a crisis with many rock concert venues having to close down due to strict safety regulations. Is that also the case in London?
Georgia: In London it’s worse because when they shut them down, they want to build a block of flats or offices on top of them. It’s not even for a legitimate reason such as safety. Otherwise, the underground bands are cool, it’s really a huge scene that’s bubbling up. Loads of new female bands are being created at the moment as well so it’s always nice to see more women picking up instruments.
Amy: The iconic venues do have it hard here in London, also because of noise pollution. It’s such a shame. But the acts are still there. I feel like we must sound slightly frustrated, but I think from a band’s perspective in this day and age, we just want to see real bands make a comeback. On every festival you see the same headliners: they’re all in their fifties, they’ve had their chance. They should give new bands a shot, listen to new music, let talents come through. We’re stuck in an era and we can’t get past it.
It looks like some bands are bound to stay underground and others are bound to remain super mainstream. This dynamic has to be broken.
Georgia: It’s due to the fact that no one wants to take risks.
Amy: The big acts have been around for forty years. Or maybe twenty, that was a bit of an exaggeration. (laughs) It’s like we’re living in the past, we should try and encourage new bands and push them on these stages. It should be about encouraging a new wave of headliners so the idea of the band doesn’t die.
You have quite a distinctive personal style and you customize your clothes. How did that come about?
Georgia: It started on Halloween. We didn’t have a costume to wear so we just put on some crazy faux fur tops and trousers. We just started wearing those clothes every day. We wanted more and more of that stuff because we felt so good wearing it and since then, we never really looked back. It’s a weird hobby that turned into our stage clothes and now everyday clothes.
People often say that in London fashion is more fearless and creative and that people don’t judge each other’s style. Is that a misconception or a real fact?
Georgia: I think it’s true for certain parts of London like Camden, Brixton, Shoreditch, and Hackney. Anywhere southeast is very creative. People just wear whatever they want there. I’m sure Paris is also regarded as a fashion-forward city.
Amy: London fashion is definitely open and liberal in that sense.
Georgia: We played at the Afropunk festival and it was literally better than London fashion week in terms of street style. We were blown away by all the amazing outfits and styles. All that in the heart of London. If that is the representation of London fashion, it’s on point.
You supported Prophets of Rage in November. That must have been a surreal moment.
Georgia: It was crazy, it was the biggest gig we’d ever done. Normally when you play with big bands, you don’t really see them hanging around, but they were so down-to-earth. When we sound-checked, they were playing American football in the stadium, we were freaking out a little. (laughs) They are all so nice and we got along really well. The show was insane.
Were you worried the crowd would be a bit different than the crowd you’re used to?
Georgia: Everyone was scared for us about the Prophets of Rage crowd but when we got out there, people seemed to love it. They were moshing everywhere. We felt at home and had a great time.
Rage Against the Machine were always quite political. Do you also make sure your music is a vector for important political messages?
Georgia: Definitely. We don’t necessarily always write about political matters in our songs but what we stand for is very political.
Amy: I feel like there could be a concept that we might socially experience something that could be political in our area. We definitely are standing for that change in terms of diversity and unity.
Was Rage Against the Machine a big influence on your music?
Georgia: Admittedly I found out about them quite late, only a few years ago. I didn’t grow up listening to them. Meeting them and seeing their energy on stage was insane. They gave great advice and were very supportive, we hope to see them again. We picked up loads of tips from hanging out with them.
You were scheduled for the 2016 Transmusicales, a French festival aimed at discovering new talents. Was that your first big concert?
Georgia: That was our biggest gig ever. We went from playing in front of three hundred people to four thousand. There was no in between, it was a huge leap. When we set up all our gear, they put these curtains down and obviously there still wasn’t anyone in the warehouse. We went on stage and weren’t expecting anyone to be there, we were so shocked when the curtain came up. But we had the best time, even if it felt surreal!
How did you get discovered by Jean-Louis Brossard?
Georgia: We met Jean-Louis when we played a festival in Brighton called The Great Escape and he told us he wanted to book us for his festival. We’d never gigged abroad before. He was the one that took us to Europe. Everything dominoed from that. We owe a lot to Jean-Louis. He’s so pioneering with the bands he chooses. We’d go around France gigging and we’d come across this amazing band and most of the time they’d played the Transmusicales.
You just came out with a new EP, but are you beginning to think about a first album?
Amy: We’ll probably release a couple of singles in spring. After that, we’ll release something whether it’s an album or not. It depends on what we want to do and what feels right at the time. So many people are listening to music in different ways that I don’t think there’s a formula or format we need to follow. We’re still relatively new and we can afford to bring out what we want. It’s exciting to think about what could happen.
Interview by Alice Butterlin
Photographer: Jesse Laitinen
Stylist: Andrej Skok
Make-up: Kristina Andrews
Stylist assistant: Anne-Cécile Lemée