Asked about what it takes to make it into a Nova Twins song, the heavy alt. rock renegades have a few words that spring to mind. “Power and fight” replies singer and guitarist Amy Love. “Imagination” adds bassist Georgia South. “We imagined this band because we didn’t have any one like us to look up to. That was the fun bit. There were no rules to who we can be.”
Nova Twins are the zeitgeist-capturing polymath pioneers that our times have been waiting for. Whether pushing the MOBO Awards to create a category for POC alt. acts, to teaming up with No Music On A Dead Planet and Oxfam to play for environmental change, working with Dr. Martens to raise money for The Black Curriculum or aiming to inspire a new wave of young, diverse talent, Amy Love and Georgia South are much more than one of the UK’s most exciting bands – they are changemakers.
Formed in London in 2014, the two childhood friends came together to create something that destroyed boundaries and defied expectations. A clash of ideas from the worlds of punk, rap, pop, hard rock and beyond, their sound is one that smashes genres but showcases the many facets of the duo and where they’re from. “Some of our favourite music is ‘00s R&B and hip-hop” says Love. “That guided us when we were younger and gave us some kind of stability. Then we wanted to venture out and were met with people saying, ‘you don’t belong here’.”
They have battled through the old guard of rock’s narrow-minded expectations. Their debut album Who Are The Girls? planted their flag as outliers on a mission, when it dropped in 2020 to much critical acclaim. Name another act that could support Bring Me The Horizon and Wolf Alice but also Enter Shikari and Sleaford Mods? One of the UK’s premiere live bands and fiercest festival acts reach a very broad church, without diluting what they’re all about.
Rage Against The Machine icon Tom Morello dubbed them “an incredible band who deserve to be huge” as well as inviting them on tour with Prophets Of Rage. Bring Me The Horizon’s Oli Sykes called them one of his “favourite new bands” before having them collaborate on song ‘1x1’ from 2020’s UK No. 1 album POST HUMAN: SURVIVAL HORROR. Furthermore, they’ve already scored the “bucket list” moment of appearing on the cover of NME, as “the band rewriting the rules of alternative music”. It’s true, rules are not in Nova Twins’ vocabulary, so don’t think about forcing them upon them.
“People just assume that women who dress colourfully can’t play” says South. “We want to change that – for everyone. We want to change the way that people look at heavy music.” Love agrees: “People say, ‘oh is that supposed to be punk?’ just based on our look and aesthetic. The New York Dolls and David Bowie can wear flamboyant clothes and be celebrated for it. When women do it, you get taken less seriously. Suddenly people think you’re posers, playing to a backing track. That makes us play into it more.”
Their attitude runs through everything they do – bursting out of their music and into the vision they have for their art-punk music videos and DIY outfits. They make their own clothes because nothing else feels quite ‘Nova’ enough. “Clothes are our armour” says Love. “They make us feel Nova. Fashion is just an extension of what you want to tell people.” South agrees: “As long as you feel like your most authentic self, that’s cool. We just happen to feel comfortable covered in spikes, fake fur and clown make-up.”
Now they too are advocates for diversity and those who might otherwise feel like they don’t fit the standard rock mould. Through their ‘Voices For The Unheard’ platform, they give a stage and a spotlight to marginalised talent, in order to help heavy music evolve. “The rock scene was regurgitating the same headliners over and over again, and in the same breath saying, ‘rock is dying’” says Love. “It’s like, ‘hang on a minute, have you not heard what’s going on over here?’ You need to make sure you’re nurturing a new generation, so that they can have the opportunity to fill those crucial spots one day. It’s a really interesting time for alternative music and I think it’s about to have its fucking heyday.”
You won’t be surprised that their fighting spirit is ingrained in their upcoming second album, Supernova. The record, co-produced predominantly with Jim Abbiss, who worked on their first album, was showcased by the brutal and unforgiving blast of cyberpunk on launch single ‘Antagonist’. Named on BBC Radio 1 by Clara Amfo’ as ‘Hottest Record In The World’ and added to the station’s playlist as “Future Artists”, this was the first track that Nova Twins created together after reuniting post-lockdown, and one that South describes as "the sound of both of our energies coming together."
Opening with the lines "I'm feeling like a riot – if it's a cure to the cause then we have to get violent", it’s an urgent call for action. “‘Antagonist’ is about taking and owning your power" says Love. "People antagonise you for the way you look, where you’re from, what you believe in, but the problem is with them. In this song, we’ve flipped all of that. We’re antagonising you because we’re here and we’re not going anywhere. Words can hurt, but this song is us refusing to be the victim. Rally up the people and take the power back because if anyone’s telling you any different, they have no right to deny your existence.”
The new album is a piece of work that’s fearlessly itself – once again playing with genre and rich in different moods, textures, and layers, all the while retaining that purity and simplicity of the essential elements: South, Love, bass, guitars, drums, and a whole lot of energy. Ultimately, it captures the tension and release that we’ve all been through lately, while imagining what’s to come. As Loves puts it, “the album reminds me of dreams and vibrant nightmares”. South continues, “you’ve got the dark things that have happened, but then also the fun and colourful light to the shade. You’ll have a giant lollipop coming out at you, but then it turns into a beast!”
Case in point: the devious earworm ‘K.M.B.’, which takes playful elements of hip hop and Destiny’s Child before birthing a D12-style horror fantasy dose of rap-punk as they bellow: “Take you to the graveyard”. Then there’s a hidden power in the subtle and simmering ‘A Dark Place For Somewhere Beautiful’, a haunting glitchcore number that deals with the tragic loss of a family member. There’s always plenty of substance hand-in-hand with the style.
‘Cleopatra’ is an electro-rock rush of intent that sees the Nova Twins declare: “Wouldn’t wanna be anyone but me – I’m the fucking queen”. It’s a blast of confidence born of social unrest. “It was written fresh from the Black Lives Matter protests, and we were feeling really powerful as two mixed-race women in an era where people were suddenly waking up to the conversation” says Love. “This was about celebrating us as black women and coming back stronger. This is our power and we’re proud of where we’re from. We want other people to feel like that too.”
Speaking of spreading empowerment, ‘Puzzles’ is an unflinching confession of lust, one that shouldn’t be seen as taboo – especially when being spoken of by women. “We just thought that there are so many sensual R&B songs, why not make a rock version of a sex song?” says South. “It’s quite fun to flip that on its head and explore that side of us. We are so often pre-warned that things might need censoring in our music. It’s fine for men to vocalise liking sex, so why doesn’t the same apply for girls like us? It’s just about normalising it. We’re women and we have sex! A general theme with us is that we’re always in control. When it comes to a song like this, we were always going to show our domineering side.”
With all they’ve learnt, and their ambitions laid clearly on the table, some of the same values remain at the core of Nova Twins. As South puts it, “We’ll always feel like the underdogs, just because we’ve had to”. The duo are carrying the spirit of their debut with them. “We still feel like people are asking, ‘Who are the girls?’” South continues. “We’ll always want to challenge those who don’t accept us and keep fighting our own corner.”
No new track says that better than ‘Fire & Ice’ – a middle-finger rocker at the heart of the new record and an ode to all the “sad girls” and “bad girls” out there. “There’s light and shade in everything” Love says when asked about the song. “We like to own our flaws, but also remind people that that’s just being human, that’s life. This song is saying that with all that in mind, we’re not your typical dream girls – we are the opposite of that, but we’re still the girls you want.”
There’s no band out there quite like Nova Twins. If more artists blazed a trail like this, we’d be celebrating a lot more difference, rather than craving what’s safe and similar. From being “shunned” when they arrived on the scene, now Nova Twins are leading a game all of their own. Now, there are no rules.