The Nova Twins are scooping Pho noodles into their mouths when I enter their dressing room. I’m interrupting but they’re far nicer than most people would be if they had to put down their takeaway to chat to a stranger for ten minutes. ‘Do you want a spring roll?’ bassist Georgia South asks me with a genuine smile.
I politely decline – the epitome of journalistic integrity.
When most people think of the Nova Twins, they think explosive music, bounding energy, and eccentric outfits that mesh Tumblr grunge with Vivienne Westwood avant-garde. But on the 23rd of February 2023, a few hours before they’re due to perform at Liverpool O2 Academy, the Nova Twins are relaxing in tracksuits. Vocalist and guitarist Amy Love’s braids are swept back into a ponytail as she digs into food that wafts the room with a delicious aroma. Georgia’s curly red hair is loose and frames her face like a fiery mane. I’m startled by how young they look. Without dramatic makeup and DIYed clothes that border on battle armour, the Nova Twins look like they could be typical students. And yet, Georgia South, and Amy Love are Brit award nominees, touring worldwide and collaborating with some of the biggest names in the music industry.
While most of us were picking up the art of crocheting or cooking vegan meals during our extra time in lockdown, Amy and Georgia, like many other musicians, entered a period of uncertainty. The call from metalcore giants Bring Me The Horizon was the silver lining in the storm clouds shrouding their future. But what was it like for them to collaborate and tour with such a huge name in rock?
“We were just a little bit shocked,” Amy tells me. “The collaboration came first so when that came in, we were like what the fuck. It was lockdown and nothing was happening so we were like it’s a sign! It’s a sign from the manifestation gods!” She shakes her palms in the air above her head in mock hallelujah.
AL: “It was amazing but we had to do it in lockdown. Then they took us out on their tour and that was such a trip because we’d gone from doing nothing to like full on arenas.”
Georgia echoes how drastic the change was: “It was like a movie. We’d been at home writing a lot, literally just hermit-like, to playing to eighteen thousand people! It was so exciting, they made it such a lovely experience.”
Even though it was daunting, the Nova Twins didn’t let that phase them.
“You rise to the occasion,” says Amy, rather stoically. She is definitive in her answers, the confidence and firmness in her voice explaining why Georgia has previously described her as a ‘big sister’.
Georgia reiterates the newness of working with BMTH and the attention that it brought. “We’d never done an arena tour before so everything was a first. We just had to get used to everything really quickly, but it was a rush.”
Fortunately for the duo, the adjustment to a far more intense touring lifestyle was made easier by the kindness of the crew and band.
“You Me At Six were really nice as well” adds Georgia.
Amy: “Sometimes you hear terrible stories of getting treated like shit but everyone was really lovely.”
Speaking of collaborations, the Nova Twins don’t seem too interested in working with similar rock/alternative artists. But who do they have their eye on?
AL: “Someone that’s something different to us probably.”
GS: “Doja Cat’s always floating around ‘cos it’s different but also I feel like the magic between us both would be amazing…whenever you mix two different things you create something new.”
AL: “You know what would be really cool also? This is kind of a new one, but James Blake could do something really cool.”
Recently, Joaquin Phoenix used his BAFTA acceptance speech to highlight issues of diversity in the film industry. He argues that all the winners being white sends a message to people of colour that ‘you’re not welcome here’.
The Brit awards – in which Nova Twins were nominated for ‘Best British Group’ and ‘Best Alternative/Rock Act’ – also came under scrutiny for their lack of diversity. The new ‘gender neutral’ category ‘Artist of the Year’ featured all male nominees and there were no R&B acts nominated in the blended Best Pop / R&B Act category. With this in mind, I ask the Nova Twins if they’ve ever been made to feel unwelcome by prestigious awards shows.
GS: “I think definitely in the past. You know you watch TV and awards shows and think where is the representation? We were quite encouraged by being nominated this year at the Brits that it feels like a step forward, especially in the alt rock category, ‘cos normally it is all like white men in there. We’re happy to represent more diversity at that end but there’s still like so many strides, as you said, to make forward. We just got to keep shouting about it ‘til one day we hopefully won’t have to talk about it, and it’ll be just normal to see such diverse winners and people in alt categories.”
AL: “It definitely highlights the issue that’s still very present and you know we’re always very vocal. It was more of a struggle for us at the beginning but it still is now. In certain ways, it could be little things in every area, like whether it’s like a hairdresser not being the right hairdresser for your hair, or makeup artist. Like where you just show up an awards ceremony like we have done, and there’s makeup on hand, 9/10 you know they’re not going to have our fucking shade or the right tools for our hair. Or like I said, even at the Brits, in RnB, where was Mahalia? Where were they? We can’t progress but at the same time take away with one hand – that’s what it feels like. They might do one thing that’s good, but it then again highlights that it’s still very, very relevant and we have to still keep being vocal.”
When it comes to writing lyrics, Amy tells me that she draws from her life experience, employing the famous trick of ‘write what you know’.
AL: “Sometimes it can be slightly fantasy but even that, when it does have a fantasy element, like ‘KNB’ for instance, it’s not like we want to go kill people but it always stems from somewhere though.”
SZA’s ‘Kill Bill’ comes to mind and I mention the trend of songs about killing ex boyfriends in music recently.
Georgia laughs: “We did it first.”
The bassist tells me about what she’s reading currently “Mariah Carey’s autobiography, I love it, it’s so good – would recommend.”
Amy is currently reading Children of Blood and Bone, a sci-fi by
Tomi Adeyemi. She’s also reading Akala’s book, The Dark Lady, the rapper’s debut fantasy novel.
I tell the duo I’m a poet and ask if they have a favourite poet or poem they gravitate towards.
‘No poets,’ says Amy, her voice trailing slightly as if she’s about to add something but then there’s an awkward sense of finality. We burst out laughing.
‘You’re good at writing poems’ she says, looking at Georgia encouragingly.
Georgia isn’t interested in performing her poetry: ‘it’d be really nice to write Hallmark style poems, special, tailored to the person.’
It’s surreal to think of Georgia, a self-proclaimed ‘punk fairy’ sitting at home writing ‘hallmark-style’ poetry. Their expression of punk is refreshingly wholesome. But what does punk mean to the Nova Twins?
GS: “Punk is just like being super DIY, we’ve always been DIY with our whole ethos, how we write, how we create, how we make our own clothes or film our videos, I think it’s just getting hands on and that’s when the most creative moments happen.”
AL: “Definitely, it’s like an attitude as well. We take it as a liberal attitude to things and how you approach life, it’s not like getting bogged down in the chaos but actually trying to do something, by moving it forward…whether it’s using your artistry, whether it’s your position.”
GS: “No real punk is an arsehole. If you’re an arsehole you are not a rockstar, you are not a punk, you’re something else.”
Amy and I nod in agreement.
Last year, Nova’s Twins released their second album ‘Supernova’, which met with critical acclaim including a spot on the Mercury Prize 2022 shortlist. In conversation with NME, Amy Love revealed the track Cleopatra was about “celebrating us as black women and coming back stronger” in the wake of the BLM movement. With the track’s empowering line ‘I’m a boss bitch’ stuck in my mind, I ask the pair: who is the biggest boss bitch you know?
Amy’s ‘Definitely like…’ trails off when we both realise Georgia’s thumb is now pointed at her bandmate.
“Aw you’re being all cute and stuff’, says Amy with a laugh. ‘Probably like the women in our families, we’re just like a load of strong women, Iranian, Jamaican…’
GS: ‘They’re the ones that taught us to be fierce. They’re the OG boss bitches.”
So, what’s next for the Nova Twins?
AL: “We’ve got a lot of touring; we’re doing America in two months with Muna. Loads of festivals, Japan, Athens, lots of writing.”
GS: ‘Our whole year is basically writing and touring. We’ve got some many other things we want to achieve, including our other hobbies…we love clothes.’
Five years down the line Georgia envisions a Nova Twins clothing line:
“We make all our stage clothes and the Brits outfits and things like that but we want to take it further.”
But in terms of music?
GS: “There will always be growth and I don’t think we think too much about what it’s got to be, because we don’t want to box ourselves in, like this album is going to be this, x y and z, then we’d have to suddenly write within that. We just write like oh this sounds cool and try to expand on what we’ve done before.”
Seeing them perform live with drummer Jake Woodward at the Liverpool O2 Academy later that evening, it’s safe to say I’m excited for whatever they come up with next. Supported by upcoming Scottish rock band Uninvited and Manchester punk-quartet Witch Fever, the Nova Twins make the guttural, gorgeous.
Words: Jay Mitra
Nova Twins Setlist:
1/ Fire and Ice
8/ Losing Sleep
10/ Play Fair
11/ Sleep Paralysis
14/ Choose your fighter