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When Nova Twins titled their second album Supernova, they weren’t fucking around, were they? Sure, the London duo – guitarist/vocalist Amy Love, bassist/vocalist Georgia South – had already made waves with 2020’s Who Are The Girls?, but their latest record has seen them ascend to another level of stardom. Between crashing the UK Top 30 to picking up the Kerrang! Award for Best British Breakthrough and delivering show-stealing sets at Bring Me The Horizon’s Malta Weekender, Slam Dunk and 2000trees, it’s been one hell of a summer already. But yesterday's shortlisting for the prestigious Mercury Prize marks arguably their greatest achievement yet.
From pop megastar Harry Styles, hip-hop trailblazer Little Simz and rising Hollywood actress Jessie Buckley (alongside Suede guitarist Bernard Butler), to indie favourites Sam Fender and Wet Leg, the 12-act shortlist feels like a who’s-who of household names and critical darlings. To elbow their way into that line-up as an unapologetically heavy, chaotic band – when real rock representation, if included at all, is normally reserved for highbrow heavyweights like IDLES and Mogwai – is worth applauding. To be the first-ever black rock act to make the list, however, is truly remarkable.
Speaking to the duo an hour after the announcement, they’re still surfing the wave of excitement, but there’s no losing sight of what an opportunity this can be – for them, and for the generation of alt. talent ready to follow in their wake...
How does it feel to see Supernova shortlisted for the Mercury Prize?
Georgia: “It’s amazing! It’s overwhelming!”
Amy: “It’s a bit surreal, to be honest!”
When you were starting out, did you ever imagine being nominated for an award with such industry-wide prestige?
Amy: “I think that we always dreamed it, we always backed ourselves. We’re just so happy that we kept going. We’re so proud of our team, of independent music generally, of what we can achieve.”
Georgia: “It can sound so hippy-dippy to say, ‘Oh, we manifested it!’ But since we were teenagers, we’d run out to look at the shortlist of bands who’d been selected, saying, ‘Maybe one day we could be on the Mercurys!’ You can’t really believe it until it’s happened!”
You’re the first black rock band to make the shortlist, too. How significant does that feel?
Georgia: “It feels amazing, like a massive win for the community. It feels like we might be opening doors that other people can run through.”
Amy: “And it’s a massive win for heavy music! This sort of genre isn’t always at the forefront [for this kind of award], so to have a heavy act on the list this year is amazing!”
Indeed, the Mercury Prize has been criticised over the years for ignoring heavier and truly alternative artists. Why do you think that you made it where so many others didn’t?
Amy: “It’s a sign of the times, really. I think that the scene has changed. It’s opening up. People have diversified the space. They’re more open to new ideas. Live music has come back in such a big way after the lockdown. Rock has made a comeback, the alternative and independent scenes are thriving, and the people who have been championing that scene have been really vocal in fighting for it. It’s great: for the people who came before us, for us, and for the people who’ll come after us, too!”
Does it feel like you’re particularly well equipped for your place at the vanguard of that new alternative movement, earning broader commercial success but also the respect of the broader music community?
Amy: “I don’t think it’s even really a question of being equipped for it. It’s just something that we naturally do. We’ve always been vocal about these things, whether we’ve had the approval of other people or not. We’ve just been here, being a band, doing what we love, talking about what we believe in and what we want to see around us.”
Georgia: “That translates to people. We just want to reach out and inspire people to believe that they can be whatever they want to be and do whatever they want to do!”
In your recent K! cover feature, you talked about sometimes having premonitions around you band’s success. Did you have any inkling that you might be shortlisted here, or is it as out-of-nowhere for you as everyone else?
Amy: “It just came out of the blue!”
Georgia: “Well, we found out six days ago, but we had to keep it secret – which was a nightmare! It really was something that we’d dreamt of being able to achieve, so it really does feel like a massive deal to us. We even came up with a secret code to talk about it, referring to it as ‘Cake...’”
Amy: “We were like, ‘Yeah, we’re going to… The Cake Awards!’ (laughs)"
There are some massive names on the shortlist, from Little Simz and Harry Styles, to Sam Fender, Wet Leg and Jessie Buckley. Are you fans of their work?
Amy: “Little Simz is an incredible artist. She’s been going for a little while and deserves that spot ten times over!”
Georgia: “What’s amazing about The Mercurys is that it’s not all about album sales, it’s about the art. We’re so grateful that it’s an award that exists to give those opportunities to the smaller artists that are included!”
Given the particular content of Supernova, does it feel apt to be part of a shortlist with such significant female representation, too?
Georgia: “Always. It’s incredible to see.”
Amy: “It’s nice to see – and have been a part of – that progress. When we started out, diversity was so scarce, but things are changing. We’ve still got a way to go, but it’s still such a good thing to see. As Elton John said, ‘Women are making the best music right now!’”
It’s been whirlwind summer for Nova Twins already: crashing the UK Top 40, picking up K!’s Best British Breakthrough and ruling over the festival circuit. What have been your highlights?
Georgia: “All of those things! Also being able to be on our tour, getting out there and actually meeting and connecting with our fans. The diversity that we’re seeing in our audience has been amazing, too, especially with being able to tour overseas. They’re all just new experiences where we’re honoured to play for people and proud to be a part of.”
How was Glastonbury?
Amy: “It was three gigs in the space of two days! The first was Shangri-La, and the whole PA went down at one point, but that just added to the performance. Then we did Greenpeace and BBC Introducing. It was wild. We’d always wanted to play Glastonbury, and the first time was supposed to be right when the lockdown happened so we [ended up playing remotely] instead, which was kind of odd. It was so good to finally be there in the flesh, getting to see all the other bands, and walking for miles and miles…”
Georgia: “...and miles! (laughs)"
Your next scheduled UK show is supporting Rage Against The Machine on August 24 in Edinburgh. How excited are you for that?
Amy: “It’s always an honour to play with those artists who’ve come before us and smashed it. It’s just amazing to have them invite us to the party. Tom [Morello, guitar] has always been very vocal about us, and the band have been very supportive. We toured with Prophets Of Rage a few years ago, but to get to play with Zack [de la Rocha, vocals] for the first time, and to get to see the rest of the squad again will be really fun. We’re just going to do our best and have a great time!”
And what’s on the agenda for the rest of the summer?
Georgia: “We’ve got a whole European tour set for August, then we have our first U.S. tour in September, then we’ll be doing a UK tour in November. There’ll be some other exciting thing happening, too. We’re just on a buzz right now, doing our best to ride it!”
Amy: “It’s just a lot of gigging, really: getting the new songs out and playing the album. And of course we have the Mercury Prize ceremony on September 8!”
And what else do you hope to achieve off the back of the Mercury shortlisting? Is it still about getting your music and your message out to the people who need to hear it?
Georgia: “It really is about getting the message into the right hands. Our band is so much more than getting shortlisted for the Mercury Prize. It means a lot for our community, for the misfits, for those individuals who feel like they’re on the outside. We’re just trying to push forward to let people know that they can do anything that they put their mind to – while rocking out!”
Amy: “You can keep it small, keep it humble, and still achieve big things!”
Supernova is out now via Marshall Records.
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