When we pick the artists we profile, it has always something to do with context at a given time. This of course in addition to our obvious appreciation for the music they make and we are excited to talk about. Nova Twins are a duet we first discovered 2 or 3 years ago and eventually ended up meeting at one of their latest stops in Paris, France, as part of the Prophets Of Rage summer tour (yes, you read it right) last year.
I remember these two women as some of the most genuine humans I’ve met. They have a strong vision of what they’re doing and most importantly why they’re doing it. Our conversation felt empowering.
Nova Twins have been making waves in the punk scene for a few years now, first and foremost because of their unconventional music, paired with an image we don’t often get to see in the British landscape nowadays. Of course Great Britain is fairly known for being the home of punk movements, especially in music, but we have to acknowledge that this scene is predominantly dominated by white men. But…black girls? Incorporating grime? Using pedals? Quite a curiousity to many, but a statement for the pair.
Break codes : Meet Amy Love and Georgia South
“When we first came out, because we were going this kind of cross genre thing, a lot of people, especially in the UK as well, wanted to label us. «You don’t belong in the Rock, you don’t belong in Metal, you don’t belong in Hip-Hop, we don’t know where to put you.» For us also being women of color on guitars, it wasn’t in fashion. It was blonde girls being back to the Blondie format or it was the Bikini Kill kind of format. But we didn’t fit in that either. So it was a bit like « What do we do? » So we just thought « Ignore everything, stay back in our own lane, create our own ». We kept on doing what we were doing. Eventually it just paid off, people caught up.”
Bottom line here is that Nova Twins dared to continue doing what they believed in until they realized that they could indeed be themselves and that was fine, too. They gained confidence this way and people eventually understood that they weren’t going anywhere. So they listened to them. And it is starting to pay off.
For women, it’s common knowledge that the music industry and in alternative/rock music more specifically, there’s still a long way to go to be at the forefront or at least to be taken seriously. As a matter of fact, there’s still this ongoing debate every time a big festival line up is unveiled with little to none women headlining and very little number of women represented on the bills. Behind the scenes, too, stories often come up with women never being taken seriously, and women discriminated against only because they are women. It’s 2020 but somehow the representation of the – excuse the wording – “groupie” associated with women in music still prevails, which is slightly problematic.
“Women have definitely created their own space. Them having to fight and demand for that spot. About four years ago, five years ago, you started seeing that movement more and more apparent. And now, people demanding are on festivals, so people have to pay attention. It is getting better, slowly – still slowly but there’s still a lot of problems, especially in the mainstream. There are amazing females in the DIY scene, all playing incredibly, sounding exceptional. But they don’t all get the same recognition in the mainstream, or mainstream radio. The only band we’ve got is HAIM and they are quite Pop, they’re not heavy. So, who plays instruments live on the mainstream? No one. We need to keep that forward for sure”, reflects Amy.
According to Georgia South, this is changing for the sole reason that we are getting more vocal about it nowadays. It’s true that social networks And all these new platforms which allow us to express ourselves are of great help, as opposite as a decade ago. It gets the conversations flowing.
Over time, Nova Twins have put out a few short records, finally culminating with a debut full length, earlier this year, in the midst of a pandemic and an amputated tour. Not the ideal timing, you would tell, but they managed to get through it and still take advantage of the situation. It has to be noticed that When it comes to creativity, Nova Twins are largely ahead of the game and master the matter with ease. A music video? Give them some painting and a stinky room and that’ll do. Stage clothes? Amy and Georgia make them all by themselves. A lockdown? It gave rise to the Voices For The Unheard chat series, a small show highlighting the work people of color (POC) in their respective industries, with guests such as radio host Sophie K. Then came a playlist of the same name that they keep updating to this day, but they also keep giving interviews and participating to rallies and talk While maintaining on focus diversity and representation and demanding change.
This kind of automony gives Nova Twins the ability to first remain independent and keep control. They don’t rely on anyone and yet manage to make it and tour with effin’ Prophets Of Rage. Tom Morello has taken them under his wing at a very early stage and if you know Morello and what he stands for, you know that he isn’t joking. Later on, Nova Twins signed a deal with 333 Wreckords Crew Collective.
Of course there’s still a lot of room for them to grow and the two women are well aware that despite their impressive progress over the past couple of years, this is only the beginning. On that matter, I noticed Amy taking a few seconds to think, before confidently affirming:
“We’re always trying to evolve and make things more difficult for ourselves. We delve into the pedals more, we find ways, different sounds, and make it sound better than the past stuff. We never want to replicate, but we want to push ourselves, to go beyond what we’ve already done.”
“You have to get that experience”, she continues. “If you’re a live band and you want to be taken seriously, gig! Gig all the time. Get better. Now, we’re happier. We still do want to get better.”
What does all of this say about the pair?
Well first of all, they stand for something. When politics started to get dirty after Brexit, the pair started noticing changes around them, in places they’ve been calling home.
The two women surely have a platform and this year more than ever, they made the most appropriate use out of it. In the wake of black lives matter movement after the George Floyd case awakened anti racist movements around the world, Nova Twins appeared to be some of the most active voices regarding the matter and boy they showed actual leadership, where many others fail.
Through their music, first and foremost and in tracks such as “Devil’s Face”, where the pair use a metaphor to highlight the frightening reality that is evil can be anywhere among us.
“We wrote it around the Brexit time, when it was feeling a lot of tension. Some people assume it’s satanic and about the devil. But it’s not. It’s a metaphor. [You] don’t know who is behind the mask kind of thing. It could be a friend, or someone you just know and underneath they got these really weird views. We kind of feel that racism in London, on our doorstep.”
Georgia reminisces that neighbor who turned out to be racist, before Amy takes it further, explaining that we actually need to look at the bigger picture and hold even ourselves accountable: “[The neighbour] had like a Brexit t-shirt on and we would say “Hi” to them. For us, it was that kind of tension and frustration and that feeling. It wasn’t about Brexit but it was about that kind of feeling that you don’t know everyone has a part in playing the devil sometimes, even if it’s someone you love or someone you’re close to […] We don’t even realize that we’re part of a bigger thing where we are sometimes brainwashed into. All of us. That’s why the devil got a face, looking at your reflection, pointing the finger. Everyone’s pointing the finger, everyone’s part of the fucking madness, some way or another.”
This is the starting point for Nova Twins. A way of thinking that’s eventually lead them to take advantage not only of their platform but also the down time we “suffered” from this year to bring out something positive and useful out of it. Nova Twins are aware they can help make things change and they sure do it. A few months ago, the two women led conversations around Black Lives Matter movement, using every platform they could, based on their own experiences as POC artists and women. This overall highlights their maturity as twenty-somethings, who want to make a difference and actively contribute to bettering the society we live in.
“We want to be able to just be our more authentic selves.” “Once, this girl came to our show and she was like « I thought I would straighten my hair ». She had afro hair. She thought she had to straighten it to come to our show”, recalls Amy. “To a rock concert.”, adds Georgia. The “Twins” often naturally complete each other’s stories, I’ve gathered. “And by the end of it, my hair sweated out and it was an afro again.” And she was like «Next time, I’m not going to straighten it because I see the diversity here and I feel comfortable.» If that message spreads, just in general, in life, if you want to be whatever, then you can be it.”
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Nova Twins – “Who Are The Girls?”
debut album now available everywhere