“We never really plan things”: Nova Twins on how they became rock’s next big thing
The UK duo on how they plan to follow-up their Mercury-nominated Supernova, the huge debt they owe Beyoncė and why they’re never going to let anyone get a look at their pedalboards…
Image: Shirlaine Forrest/Redferns
Nova Twins’ rise has been nothing short of phenomenal – in the three years since the London duo dropped their debut album, Where Are The Girls?, they’ve graced magazine covers, artist campaigns for brands such as Fender and Dr Martens, played Glastonbury (twice) and got nominated for the Mercury Prize – Britain’s most prestigious and respected music award – for second LP Supernova in 2022.
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Along the way they’ve picked up fans across the globe pulled in by the pair’s unique blend of punk, metal and grime, with no less than Tom Morello describing them as “the best band you’ve never heard of” and even Elton John himself declaring himself a fan, announcing his excitement to see them at this year’s Glastonbury Festival, and saying rather succinctly, “These girls rock my world”.
It’s all a far cry from when we first spoke to Amy Love (guitars) and Georgia South (bass) back in 2020 – today we’re sitting with the pair backstage at Sonic Temple festival in Columbus, Ohio. Nova Twins might find themselves a little further down the bill here than they might be used to on UK and European festival stages – along with fellow rapidly rising Brits Bob Vylan and Wargasm – but there’s still a buzz around a band that are starting to make their name on the other side of the Atlantic just like they did back home.
It’s not hard to see why – the pair are all infectious energy, relentless attitude and killer riffs whether they’re playing in front of 500 people or 50,000, and they’re pretty used to winning new fans over thanks to support slots with Prophets Of Rage, Fever 333 and Muna, while they’ll be heading out on the road with Muse later this year.
Describing Nova Twins’ sound to someone is tricky – the pair have fearlessly followed their own whims when creating new music, pulling on a cadre of influences that spans the gamut from Rage Against The Machine to Destiny’s Child. Among their diverse and eclectic bag of riffs and grooves, picking a favourite can be like choosing a favourite child, but they were able to weigh in on a riff they are most proud of writing,
“I feel like we had a lot of fun doing the Antagonist riff,” Amy reflects. “We were just having fun in the studio and we just kind of stumbled on it. That’s such a fun riff. Even when we play it live now, when it kicks in, I just want to jump around.”
“I do love Fire & Ice or Cleopatra,” Georgia chimes in. “We love riffs so we write a lot of them.”
Although the duo sound incredibly tight together, even in a live setting, their musical backgrounds are quite different. Georgia started her musical journey honing her classical skills on piano until she found a kinship with the bass and has never put it down since. As for Amy, she started out on guitar, writing her own songs from the very beginning, rather than learning covers, as many of us did. This may help explain how she came about her unique style, as she explained her relatively casual approach to learning to play the guitar.
“I really learned just by messing around,” Amy explains. “I remember being discouraged at first. I didn’t even learn by YouTube or anything like that. I just figured it out and the next thing I know, I’m in Nova Twins and I just figured it out from there and I’m still just doing my thing with it.”
As for how the duo goes about sculpting their signature tones, that remains a bit of a mystery as they are notoriously secretive about their pedalboards. Even from a reasonable distance it’s very tricky to ascertain exactly what is sitting on those pedalboards as most of the pedals are gaffer-tape’d up to the point of being unrecognisable.
“I think it’s like the secret ingredients in a family recipe.” Says Georgia of why the pair are so protective about the gear they use, “We spend so long creating these sounds, we just like to keep it our own little specialty.”
It’s no secret that women have been, historically, vastly under-represented in the rock world. We have seen some positive changes in recent years and Nova Twins are evidence of that, offering a fierce fearlessly creative force for young women to look up to in the future. While Nova Twins might be carrying the torch for feminist rock into the future, they acknowledge those who inspired them as well.
“Even if they weren’t direct influences, there were loads of empowering black women that we looked up to,” says Amy. “Destiny’s Child was a massive one for us. Even though it wasn’t rock music, it got to us first because we didn’t have a lot of references in the rock world – there was Skin, and we love Skunk Anansie – she’s so incredibly fierce and powerful. But Destiny’s Child got to us first. Then we had icons like Tina Turner – really fierce strong [women] who really performed with everything they had and weren’t just there to be perfect and polite and pretty on stage. They had that raucous energy that Betty Davis brought to the table.”
The influence of Queen Bey was equally impactful on Georgia – going to see her live as a kid being a formative moment on her journey to being a rock star.
“We got tickets in the third row, and seeing her with the all-girl band shredding bass solos in front of a sold-out arena, the 11 year old me was mind-blown,” she enthuses.
Dress For Success
Anyone who has seen Nova Twins perform will know that a huge part of that performance is their onstage outfits – which are just as loud, brash and unique as the band themselves. The duo actually design all the clothes they wear on stage themselves, under the label Bad Stitches, and one of the most exciting projects the pair are working on currently is creating a line that will be available to the public some time in the future.
As for what the rest of 2023 has in store for Nova Twins, fans hoping for a third LP should get excited… though their relentless touring schedule is getting in the way of that.
“We’re working on new music at the moment,” Georgia explains. “Between the festivals and the touring, we’re constantly trying to write.”
The pair seem hopeful that we’ll see new music from them in 2024, but don’t expect them to stick to what you expect in terms of musical direction.
“We’ll see what direction it goes,” Amy shrugs. “We never really plan things or try to follow the flavour of the month. I think in the moment, we do what feels good and however it comes out, that’s how it comes out and if we like it, that’s the main thing, really. But I have a good feeling about it.”