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Music

DR. MARTENS SPEAKS TO NOVA TWINS

When we meet Amy and Georgia in a quiet café in Camden we’re struck by their boundless energy, when these two girls walk into a room, people take notice. Amy Love and Georgia South are otherwise known as the Nova Twins. A post-punk duo who play heavy bass with equally heavy lyrics.

Their sound is undefinable but they often find themselves defined anyway;
“people see two mixed race girls and they assume we’re going to sing really sweetly, like we’re Destiny’s Child. I mean, look at our guitars!”.

There’s certainly nothing that says ‘R’n’B princess’ about the pair. For our interview they’re bedecked in homemade jeans and jackets with faux fur, studs and safety pins as well as heavy-duty leather chokers, chunky Dr. Martens boots and winged eyeliner so sharp you could cut yourself on it. Listen to their EP and the track Bassline Bitches and you’ll hear they have more in common with New York Dolls than pop girl groups, and they aren’t doing this to please anyone but themselves.

The Nova Twins. Photographed by Wild blanket photography.

Dr. Martens: How did you two meet?
Amy Love: We’ve always been friends and we’ve always been musically involved. We always did music, but separately, we’d often be on the same bill. Then 2 years ago we wrote a song together called Bad Bitches in the house together and it came about really easily.

Do you live together?
AL: Pretty much, we don’t, but I’ll spend most of the week in Lewisham with Georgia and like one day at my house in Essex.

Was it always music?
Georgia South: Yeah, there was nothing else we wanted to do. My dad is a musician, he’s a jazz musician, so I guess I get it from him.
AL: He taught us how to play.

What was your first gig?
GS: Before we were in a band we performed at an open mic night, we weren’t really officially a band.
AL: As a band we played this punky small venue called Lady Luck run by this female promoter who really promotes and supports female acts. Our second gig was here in Camden at Barfly, it’s called Camden Assembly now, but it’s still an iconic venue.

You’ve started getting a lot of support from music magazines like NME…
GS: Yeah we played for them at Boxpark Croydon and they gave us a two-page spread, the support is amazing.
AL: They’ve said we’re ‘ones to watch’.

The Nova Twins.

So if you’re ‘ones to watch’ what can we expect from you this year?
AL: We’ve got loads of festivals booked abroad like Les Femmes festival in France, Lil Simz is playing who we love. It’s an all-female line up.

It’s got to a point now where there’s too many men. We’re happy to be a part of a movement that is pushing things forwards.

Are platforms for female creatives important to you?
AL: We don’t want to come across as ‘oh we hate men, all girls only’ but it’s got to a point now where there’s too many men. Festival line-ups are a real c*ckfest. We’re happy to be a part of a movement that is pushing things forwards.

Where’s the weirdest or most unexpected place you have fans?
AL: We get a lot of random listens; Spain, France, Brazil…
GS: Yeah Brazil, a guy who I think is a bit of a rockstar there liked us. Then we started getting plays in Brazil, so maybe he’s singing our praises over there.
AL: He came to a gig once I think.
GS: Yeah he came to our Kate Nash gig and introduced himself. It was a Help The Refugees one. We’re playing a ‘Rock for Refugees‘ gig at the Bussey Building in Peckham on March 7th.

Is that something that’s important to you? Taking a political stand about issues you care about?
AL: I don’t think in music you have to be political all the time, but at the same time, if we come across issues and we want to help, then we’ll use our voices. Sometimes we sing about issues, something we’ll just write songs about getting f*cked up. You shouldn’t feel obliged to do anything, but if you mean it, then do it. Never do anything for the sake of it, but we like it obviously, that’s why we get involved.

Afropunk is great, It’s cool that it’s black artists not necessarily playing music associated with black culture.

Have you encountered anything you don’t like about the music industry?
GS: It happens less now but being stereotyped, before we’d be carrying our guitars, setting up the bass and people would say ‘aww, are you gonna sing?’.
AL: London is fine, we’re not pigeonholed or stereotyped, here people don’t expect one thing. But other more provincial areas that aren’t necessarily immersed in culture, we’re expected to act or perform a certain way. That’s why Afropunk is great, we played last year and we’ll be playing the next one in Paris. It’s cool that it’s black artists not necessarily playing music associated with black culture.

I grew up listening to jazz because my dad always had jazz records on in the house, but then I’d listen to Missy Elliot or NERD or Skepta. Just random stuff. – GEORGIA

The Nova Twins.

Who are your musical influences?
GS: I don’t think there’s anyone that we aspire to be like but growing up we listened to a wide range of music. I grew up listening to Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway, but then I’d listen to Missy Elliot or NERD or Skepta. Just random stuff. It’s not one certain artist of kind of music, it’s a wide range
AL: I call it ‘the big bang theory’ the sounds kinda went ‘pop’ on one song but through listening to loads of sounds. All our influences came together when we first started making music. I like artists who use their voices as instruments like Jack White, Kate Bush or Nasty Girl by Bette Davis – they’re interesting vocalists for me. Georgia might like something from old school Timbaland or a texture from a grime track, and together it’s become our sound I guess.

Do you find it easy to work together and meld all those influences?
AL: Yeah. We have like a family dynamic, because we’re family friends. You know like a sister if you ever fall out, you don’t really fall out, we might get a bit moody but literally one minute later we’re like ‘anyway…’
GS: There’s only two of us, so it’s manageable. Can you imagine if there were five people? Five ideas all at once.
AL: I don’t know how big bands do it. We are lucky because there’s just two of us.

How often do you work with other producers or collaborators?
GS: Not often, at the moment it’s just us. In the future maybe.
AL: Our definitive sound is ours, it comes from us, but we work with an Engineer – Paul Frost, and mixer, Adrian Hall. They help us get our sound on the record. Hopefully in the future we’ll get to work with more people.

Who would be a dream collaborator?
AL: Sometimes I think it would be cool to have like a hip hop producer, because our sound is quite heavy.
GS: Or Pharrell.
AL: Or Jack White, Missy Elliot and Rihanna. A supergroup.

I think between the pair of us we definitely have about 15 pairs of DM’s. No lie. – AMY

We hear you’re big fans of Dr. Martens?
GS: Yeah, I got a pair for Valentine’s day. My partner got me the snakeskin pair and flowers and chocolates and I was like ‘you’re so naughty, I thought we were gonna do something small’.
AL: I think between the pair of us we definitely have about 15 pairs of DM’s. No lie.

The Nova Twins wearing the 1461 Velvet brocade shoe and 1914 boot.

When did you get your first pair?
AL: Georgia had some old-school patent ones years ago.
GS: I don’t know because I have so many, white, velvet…
AL: I’ve got loads too, we’ve always worn them.

What is it about DM’s that you like?
AL: They’re tough and they’re really comfortable to perform in on stage. I get into a weird routine where I wear the same pair of shoes on stage so that I know how to use my feet on the pedals. Plus, they make you feel empowered.
GS: And the shape, they’re just comfy. Even when I was younger, I’ve always worn them.
AL: They saved my foot the other day, our drummer slammed the car door on my foot and it would have broken if it wasn’t for my boots! So Dr. Martens actually saved my feet. Thanks.

Your look is so unique, where do you find inspiration?
GS: We make our own clothes.

Really, when did you start?
AL: When you’re a musician, obviously when you’re starting out you’re skint so it was out of necessity. You need to be creative I guess. And our music’s so ‘in your face’ that we need clothes to represent that.
GS: We became really bored with our clothes so we started making our own. Now we do everything. We taught ourselves to hand-sew but it was quite time consuming so we got sewing machines for Christmas last year.
AL: Now it’s out of hand. We customise everything.

A lot of musicians go into fashion is that something you’d be interested in doing?
AL: I think because we enjoy it, and because we make all our stage clothes, maybe other people might like them. We’ve just made seven bespoke denim jackets that we’re going to sell. We’ve got tiger ones, leopard print, zebra in the collection.
GS: We’ve called our line Bad Stitches.

Oh we see, like Bad Bitches. So it’s a fully-rounded Nova Twins world. What next, acting?
GS: We do the occasional extra work on the side. For extra money. I played a school kid in a Barclay’s advert. I just sat on a bus eating free food all day.
AL: In the past we’ve even done events where we’ve waited tables and things like that. You gotta do what you gotta do. And working odd jobs we’ve met so many cool people. Being a musician, it’s a means to an end.
GS: We’d hate it, having to scrape our hair back in a bun, it’s just not what we want to do.

The Nova Twins.

Your profile is getting much bigger now…
GS: Yeah, I think NME really helped with that.
AL: Things kind of picked up after that and touring abroad has helped too.

If you could achieve one thing by the end of this year what would it be?
GS: We’ve got two new singles coming out soon so we want them to do well.
AL: We’re excited for people to hear our new material.
GS: I think playing abroad and touring more. We’re playing in south Africa.
AL: It’s a thing that you always say ‘one day I’d love to play here’ so that’s good.

So the Nova Girls look is very distinctive, how would we get the look?
GS: Buy our jackets! Haha.
AL: Pair of scissors, safety pins. More is more.
GS: Double leopard print, feathers, leathers, fluff.

Is there anyone whose fashion sense you really admire?
GS: An Instagrammer called Sita Bella, she wears sick clothes.
AL: Alexander Wang, Vivienne Westwood – especially in the punk days, lots of tartan and buckles.

Do you get a lot of fashion inspiration from social media?
GS: I suppose subliminally. A lot of people on Instagram wear like thousands of pounds worth of stuff, so we’ll take inspiration but then probably go and hand sew our own version.
AL: It’s good to expose yourself the things outside your own bubble. To think outside the box. There’s a girl on Instagram that dresses like a clown – we like people who are unique.
GS: I’m a top Instagram stalker, I’ll find our anything.

When we first started people told us to be more commercial, more pop, and we were like ‘f*ck you’.

The Nova Twins. Photographed by Cath Dupuy.

Any advice for people wanting to get into the music industry?
AL: Be yourself.
GS: People might think ‘ooh everyone loves this band so we need to sound like them’.
AL: In the short term that might work, but in the long term it never lasts. When we first started people told us to be more commercial, more pop, and we were like ‘f*ck you’. Trust in your instincts and do you. You need to be secure because this industry is made for people to chip away at you.
GS: Give yourself time to evolve and develop.
AL: We got better by doing loads of shit gigs. Do you remember when we supported D12? Oh my god.
GS: They were really nice guys but their fans didn’t know us and we’re a totally different genre of music from hip hop so we were terrified. It was our biggest gig ever at the time.
AL: It was a good experience though; you need to have those sh*tty gigs.
GS: Then you know what to do when you’re nervous. Now we don’t really get nervous.

Finally, what do you stand for?
AL: Diversity and uniqueness. Don’t ever feel like you have to conform.
GS: Individuality.

Check out Nova Twins on their Instagram and Spotify.

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