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Nova Twins are Kerrang!’s Band Of The Year: “It’s such a big thing. It’s crazy to us”

No-one has had a 2022 quite like Nova Twins. They’ve made an incredible album in Supernova, exploded in the UK, taken America by storm, played the Mercurys and changed the MOBOs. As they look back on 12 months of firmly upward travel, we salute Amy Love and Georgia South, and look at how they became the Band Of The Year…

Nova Twins are Kerrang!’s Band Of The Year: “It’s such a big thing. It’s crazy to us”
Words:
Nick Ruskell
Photos:
Federica Burelli

On October 17, Amy Love and Georgia South were at Heathrow Airport, anxiously watching their gear arrive on the conveyor belt in baggage reclaim. If you want a picture of how wild this year’s been for the pair, it’s a perfectly hectic one.

The previous night, they’d played a headline show at New York’s legendary Bowery Ballroom. Then they’d high-tailed it to the city’s JFK Airport to catch a flight back to London. With no time to breathe, they then had to head to the Eventim Apollo. No biggie, they were just booked to play the Mercury Music Prize, alongside Sam Fender, Wet Leg, Self Esteem and eventual gong winner Little Simz. In between, everything rested on a tightrope of whether their stuff had made it with them. Having already been down to play there once, before the original ceremony was canned after guests had taken their seats following the death of the Queen, the re-arranged date had taken some manoeuvring. Such was the paper-thin wiggle-room for error that, should there be any cock-ups, there was no time to correct them.

“We were at the airport literally counting things coming through,” recalls Georgia. “We were watching our pedal boards and guitars coming out like, ‘One… Two… Okay, we’ve got a show… Three…”

“It was so close to the line that everything needed to go right now,” adds Amy. “It was like, ‘Nothing can leave the airport broken, because we ain’t got time to fix it!’”

Nova Twins’ gear all made it, unbroken, and thus Nova Twins made it to the Mercurys, a night Amy calls “an incredible, crazy and amazing experience”.

“All the artists were really supportive on the night, and everyone was patting each other on the back,” she remembers. “There was respect for each person’s genre. There was jazz, a Cornish choir, and then you have Little Simz. It was all so diverse, and it was amazing that we could all share that same stage, but on completely different levels. That was one of the best things about it.”

It was a big one for the pair, as was having their scorching Supernova album nominated (even if it isn’t reeaally good like winning a Kerrang! Award, which they bagged themselves this year, alongside a Music Week Women In Music Award). But on a broader level, beyond their own frontiers, Nova Twins’ appearance represented something brilliant for rock. Rarely does this music get a sniff around such things, much less be invited to be front-and-centre playing at the ceremony.

“We felt super-proud that we were representing in the rock and alt. scene, because obviously you don’t really see that at the Mercurys,” says Georgia. “So doing that, we felt like we needed to bring it and make everyone proud.”

In a whirlwind 12 months that’s seen them release one of the best albums of the year, make a massive jump to play their biggest headline shows to date, and set boots on the ground across Europe, America and Australia, awards are just one highlight that shows the scope of what Nova Twins are achieving. Six months ago, K!’s review of Supernova declared, that they are “no longer the fringe bad bitch baddies hoping to be heard – they’re ready to be worshipped”. As 2022 wraps up, it isn’t hard to think of them in even bigger terms.

Simply, Nova Twins are the Band Of The Year.

On the day we speak to Amy and Georgia, they’ve just gotten back from the final date of their European tour in Zurich. It’s a rare moment of free time before they finish the UK leg, ending up at London’s Electric Brixton.

Do you ever stop?

“Sleep is for the dead! That’s what Georgia’s mum says,” laughs Amy. “And that’s so fucking true. We’ve got to a point where if we’re home for a bit, we always get a bit twitchy. We’re like, ‘Okay, we’ve had two days’ rest – what’s next?’ Two weeks is a long holiday. It’s nice being in one bed for that long.”

“We feel like we haven’t been home since February when the tour began,” adds Georgia. “But it’s exciting because we’d never done our own headline shows in America before, or big tours in Europe. It’s a big change for us to be able to do all those things, so it was definitely a challenge. But we learned so much on the road, and we wouldn’t change anything… maybe a few extra nights’ sleep!”

Fun, energised and loud, it’s very easy to like Nova Twins. Even offstage, even after driving halfway across a continent after weeks of shows that don’t have a moment of respite in their hyper-fun, aerobic energy, the pair positively buzz with infectious vitality. They smile constantly, laugh loudly, and a thread of positive energy runs through everything they say. It’s not uncommon for musicians to be proud of their work, but rarely will you meet those as jazzed and excited about what they do as Amy and Georgia.

“What I like about us is that sometimes we have these situations where we won’t sleep, and we’ll have to get something done and stay up till 5am to finish it, but we just go into it,” explains Georgia. “And we’ll be cry-laughing because it’s just ridiculous when you’re that tired and we’re in this situation [where you can’t stop]. But we’re so passionate about what we do. And we love it – it’s the love getting us through.”

Even when they’re resting, it seems the pair don’t actually rest.

“When we’re home, we’re still doing stuff,” says Georgia. “There’s always bits and bobs. We’re always doing something.”

This is sort of how Supernova was born. Written over lockdown, Amy says “it kind of got us through a really fucking crazy time. So much change was happening around this album, but it was like a diamond in the rough. And we polished the dirt off, and then the album was there, like the little gem in the middle. And it was so nice to finally release it to people.”

Nova Twins’ debut, Who Are The Girls?, didn’t get the same glorious launch. The insistent, energetic work of a band ready to explode, upon its release in February 2020, it was showered with praise, not least from those who had been screaming their name after seeing them bounce the roof off venues like London’s Camden Assembly. Twenty-four days after its release, the government announced its first stay at home order. And that was that.

“That album was more like a slow trickle,” Amy explains. “Over lockdown people kept picking up, and would discover it in their own time when they weren’t doing anything. But this album, it was different, because we actually got to tour it and support it properly.”

“This felt like our debut; it didn’t feel like our second album,” nods Georgia, “because we never got to have the tour and do the festivals or anything around the first one at all. So it felt good to actually get that this time.”

“When we first started writing, we were a little bit like, ‘How are we going to afford to release an album?’” says Amy. “We were very frustrated. We were in a position where we were like, ‘Fuck, how are we going to even record this?’”

Eventually, the band hooked up with Marshall Records, and got to work. With more solid ground under their feet than what was going on in the rest of the world, making Supernova – in all its bright, glittery glory, a thrilling opposite to the monochrome tedium of lockdown – was as much an escape and distraction as it was band work. As Amy puts it, “If anything, it was our lease of life.

“We weren’t frustrated about what’s going to happen in terms of the pandemic,” she continues. “We were just so happy that we’d got an album to focus on to keep us distracted when we didn’t know what was going on around us. And we had a lot of fun pushing ourselves, and having the time to experiment with things, and being able to pass each other ideas and get excited about something again.

“We got really stuck into [production software] Logic and making our demos sound better than the last album’s demos. And we were really nerding out ordering new pedals,” says Georgia. “We had a great time. People were like, ‘You have to fit it in during touring, or rush it – it’s the dreaded album two…’ But we felt like we had more time than album one, almost, because of the pandemic.”

Since making the record, as lockdown lifted at the end of last summer, Nova Twins found themselves going from the bubble of working on music in a closed environment to suddenly having to face down 15 to 20,000 people a night as special guests to Bring Me The Horizon on their Post Human UK arena tour. Despite learning a couple of on-the-hoof lessons – not least when, joining the headliners for their 1x1 collaboration, Amy’s new in-ears stopped working and she missed her cue, while Georgia’s bass decided it was the perfect time not to work – to anyone watching they were the best band for the job.

At their own shows this year, things have been just as wild. At London’s Heaven nightclub in March – their biggest headline gig to date at that point – it felt like something was happening. Sold out, and backed with flames, CO2 and a video wall, it was an extravaganza that announced Nova Twins as something very special.

“That was mad,” remembers Georgia. “We didn’t know how we’d feel when we stepped out there until it actually happened. When we did walk out, it felt a bit like we had to get used to it, feeling like, ‘That’s our headline show.’ There were so many people there, and it was this massive ‘pinch-me’ moment where we were like, ‘Wow, we’re in London. This is our show. We have pyro. That’s crazy!’”

“It was definitely a moment,” says Amy. “We’ve been a band for a little while now, and we remember how massive it felt to headline the Camden Assembly to a couple of hundred people. That was a big moment for us, because we came up on that DIY circuit in grassroots venues. So to be able to go to Heaven and do that, and then go to Electric Brixton a few months later, it’s just such an amazing progression. It’s nice to see that people want to come out and see our type of music. It’s not just about the headliners that we’ve always had that get kind of regurgitated – who are incredible – it’s also about making room for the genre to live on and to keep rolling on, which is wicked.”

Heading straight across the Atlantic the next day, they began their first headlining tour of the U.S. and Canada. Not their first time over there – they’d previously been out with grandson on a short run – they were nevertheless surprised that people were coming out. And lots of them.

“It was a bit mad. You can see on Spotify that we’ve got fans in the U.S. and stuff, but we’d only done six dates out there with grandson,” says Amy. “So it’s mad to think, ‘Oh, we can go to all these different states, and we can actually play venues out there.’”

“We were going to so many places we’ve never been and we were shocked that people were turning up,” adds Georgia. “We were like, ‘Oh my God, there’s actually people here to see us.’ It was just mind-blowing to us. And everyone was so colourful and enthusiastic and expressive. It was such good energy and vibes.”

It wasn’t all brilliant – “At one point rain came through the air conditioning unit in the van,” remembers Georgia, “so we had to stick sanitary pads all over the ceiling to cover the vent” – but mostly it was. And Nova Twins began to see that they didn’t just have an audience in America, they had their own audience, just as they do back home.

“It was super-diverse in America, which was amazing to see,” says Georgia. “You have girls with massive ’fros mixed with guys in snapbacks. It would just be completely mixed, which was amazing.”

This is what makes Nova Twins’ success in 2022 so impactful. They haven’t just released a fantastic record and enjoyed an enviable run of touring to bigger and bigger venues, they also represent more than any other new(ish) band a sense of doing things differently, of affecting change. All around, rock is becoming more open, more inclusive, as a new wave of bands and fans come in. Most visible of all in 2022, it’s been them.

A tangible example: two years ago, they got in touch with Kanya King, the founder of the MOBO Awards, suggesting that there needed to be a rock and alternative category. They wrote back, “which was cool, for them to acknowledge that rock came from black origin,” Amy says. And they got chatting. On November 11, an announcement came: there would be such a section at this year’s event. Nova Twins did that.

“It’s so cool,” enthuses Amy. “Kanya King, she’s incredible. It was amazing to meet her and to hear her story, and her struggles in that industry to keep the MOBOs afloat and everything. And she’s such a strong, passionate woman. It was amazing to be able to sit there and chat to her, and exchange stories and ideas. And it’s amazing that it’s going to actually happen.”

This is constructive and cool, far removed from the all-too-common thing of negative anger pinballing around with no point. In the only time during our interview where she speaks with anything approaching anger, Amy posits that their determination and subsequent wins are a ‘fuck you’ to “people who didn’t quite get or understand what we were doing, or where we were coming from, or were making assumptions about us because of the way we looked, instead of listening to [the music].” Even here, she laughs in disbelief.

“I remember this fucking article where this band reviewed one of our songs and went, ‘Good band and everything, but what’s with all the synths and this fancy, big-budget video?’” she says. “I just thought, ‘We painted our own video fucking set! And there’s no synths on it!’ It doesn’t matter if there were synths, but there wasn’t. People always like to assume things about us, and think we’re going to be like a hip-hop band or something. And when we do something different, they’re a bit confused. So there was a lot of that sort of stuff that we had to contend with at the beginning. But in the past few years, we’ve been getting questioned a lot less, especially because alt. music and rock music has had a bit of a revival in newer bands, and it’s diversified a lot. But it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. I still see people just being keyboard warriors and shit, even on our friends’ bands, just because they don’t like to see women in heavy music. It’s strange.”

Thankfully, though, this sort of stupidity is getting exponentially less and less. As they prepare to round out the year in Australia, and begin 2023 several thousand miles away from freezing London performing on the ShipRocked Cruise in the Bahamas alongside Parkway Drive, Motionless In White and WARGASM, it’s just another high-watermark of just how much things are blowing up for Nova Twins right now.

All that remains, then, is to ask one final question: Amy, Georgia, you’re officially the Band Of The Year. Thoughts?

“We were so shocked when we found out,” smiles Georgia. “It’s such a big thing. It’s crazy to us.”

“I guess you can get impostor syndrome sometimes,” admits Amy. “So many bands have been doing incredible, and it’s nice to be called something like that. We love Kerrang!, and it was one of the first publications to pick us up, and there was Alex Baker and Sophie K supporting us on Kerrang! Radio as well. So it will always mean a lot to us. We’re just honoured and really thankful.”

And if you thought this year was supernova, Nova Twins have barely gotten started…

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