For most musicians in their genesis, there comes the contemplation of amassing a body of work that will someday form their debut album. Nova Twins, however, bypassed the route of consistent music releases and settled into the DIY path of making a name for themselves as a prolific band on the live circuit. In effect, doing things in a way that worked for them, without having to compromise or take bad advice from anyone around them.
Having amassed a cult-like following over their years spent touring, the duo learnt that there was no specific formula to follow - instead, going where the shows took them. It was only as a reaction to rabid fans asking, that they decided it was time to work on an album.
Using an assemblage of pedals to conjure the essence of guttural garage punk while effortlessly touching upon metalcore, electronica and industrial rock, Georgia South and Amy Love tackle pressing subjects such as celebrating your sexuality and shunning sexual harassment, knowing you're the underdog and fighting harder to be seen, all the while embracing the sleight of hand that is life and playing the cards you've been dealt. At its core, 'Who Are The Girls?' speaks to the notion of being unapologetically yourself while taking the power back.
When we met with the duo back in January, ahead of the record's release, they were pyretic with excitement and ready to showcase the expansion of their sonic palettes. Where their eponymous debut EP highlighted the punk ethos that they'd cultivated through years of cutting their teeth on stage; their debut album cemented their place as a band who are avant-garde in their neoteric approach to the alternative scene.
Recorded with acclaimed producer Jim Abbiss, the intention throughout was to capture their live sound to its fullest and most organic state so that when they would embark on their European tour a few weeks later, the audience would be assimilated into their world with zero compromises.
Unfortunately, the global pandemic halted their plans just ten days into the tour, and as we catch up with Amy and Georgia nine months later via the COVID-friendly method of Zoom, they reveal that they were blindsided when they found out they'd have to cancel halfway through a string of dates in France; recalling being on their way to the next venue when news hit that the country was entering lockdown and they'd have to rush back to the UK before the Eurotunnel closed.
"I think it's helped in terms of people paying more attention, politically, to different types of music," Amy says of how music consumption has changed throughout the global unrest. "Honestly, the Black Lives Matter movement was a massive indicator and a wake-up call to the whole world - including the music industry."
Nova Twins are a band whose entire history is filled with tales of being the underdogs and fighting to represent a minority in a whitewashed, male-dominated industry, as Amy reveals: "We've always been advocates because when you're black, you can't just turn it off one day. These are real situations that happen everywhere you go." So, when political activism saw a rise on social media during the BLM movements, they exhausted themselves trying to share their platform with those who wouldn't normally have a chance to speak out, whilst also championing those who were fearless enough to do so themselves.
"In the end, we realised that we can't take on the world, but what everyone can do is work in their areas. So, if we're music, we need to make sure that we are really outspoken, talking about the issues that we come across. Making sure that we're fighting the good fight for other people who might not have the confidence or courage to speak out about it because of the way they're going to get judged by friends or family," Amy explains with valour.
It was an eye-opening time for many in the music industry; witnessing an undercurrent of activism bubbling amongst up-and-coming musicians whilst artists with a much larger platform, who made a name for themselves being outspoken on political matters and equality, stayed silent.
"These people have a responsibility. When you have an audience, you have to spread good light and love - you can't just go silent. You have to promote good things because you don't want a racist to come to your show," says an exasperated Georgia. "By not saying anything, you're literally saying anybody's welcome at my show - if you're racist, or homophobic, or whatever - but you have to stand up for what you believe in and say: 'This is not okay our shows'."
Even with their own deep-rooted connection to the live experience, it was frustrating to see the artists who fell silent on the Black Lives Matter movement speaking out for the Save Our Venues campaign. "How can you speak on one thing and not the other? You have to protect your fans, who may be of colour, coming to your shows. You don't want them having a problem with other people there because there's just not a clear unity at your shows," Georgia contemplates, indignantly.
While most artists explored the world of livestream performances during lockdown, as a result of their inability to tour, it was somewhat unfeasible for Nova Twins to pull off. "If you're a live band wanting an audience to exchange energy with, suddenly it doesn't feel right. If you're a singer-songwriter, I imagine you'd be in your bedroom on an acoustic guitar and feel really content with singing your songs and soothing yourself in that way, but our music is predominantly made for an audience," Amy says.
Instead, they captured the attention of their audience by hosting an Instagram Live show called Voices For The Unheard, featuring the likes of Kerrang! Radio Breakfast presenter Sophie K, Noisettes bassist and vocalist Shingai; as well as curating a playlist under the same name that puts the spotlight on POC artists in alternative genres of music, such as Zhariah, Bob Vylan and Pleasure Venom in order to ensure that "people felt they had options" and were given the opportunity to discover the stories of other people they could relate to.
Signing with FEVER 333 frontman Jason Aalon Butler's artist collective 333 Wreckords Crew, winning Best Breakthrough Band at the Heavy Music Awards, curating Instagram challenges for their fans and collaborating with the likes of Tsar B and Bring Me The Horizon; Nova Twins have managed to have one hell of a year, and despite only being able to have toured for ten days, it's safe to say that lockdown hasn't completely hindered the release of their debut album.
Despite the unfavourable circumstances, Nova Twins have exceeded their own expectations on what they set out to achieve with 'Who Are The Girls?' and they are simply happy to have been able to release it to an audience who Amy describes as, "all just great people on the same wavelength," before throwing in a brazen slip of the tongue for good measure - "you know, no racists in here!"
Taken from the December 2020 / January 2021 issue of Upset, out now.
Featuring... The Smashing Pumpkins, Poppy, All Time Low, Creeper and more.