Why Nova Twins wrote an open letter to the MOBOs
Since their inception 1996, the MOBO Awards have been a force for good, recognising the achievements of ‘music of black origin’ across genres that include hip-hop, soul, R&B, grime, jazz and reggae. In that time the award ceremony has been instrumental in helping to break a generation of British artists, ranging from Dizzee Rascal to Stormzy, while celebrating international acts like Destiny’s Child through to Kanye West, both of whom have performed at the annual, London-based event.
So far, though, no rock or alternative bands have been recognised by the MOBOs. That means no Bad Brains, no Rage Against The Machine, no Skunk Anansie, no Zeal & Ardor, no Young Fathers, and no FEVER 333. Push the point further and you realise that Jimi Hendrix – arguably the greatest guitar player of all-time – is unlikely to receive a posthumous award at an event that’s essentially designed to break down barriers.
“One of our in-house lot was joking about the fact that we’d never be on that show,” explains guitar/singer Amy Love. “So we suddenly questioned why there wasn’t a rock or alternative category at the MOBOs, and we decided to write them an open letter.”
“It was very spur of the moment, we wrote it and then we released it. There wasn’t a big plan,” laughs bass player Georgia South.
The pair didn’t actually expect to receive a response, but the MOBOS replied instantly to Amy and Georgia via social media.
“We see you Nova Twins! Rock and the alternative music genre certainly has its roots in black music and the contributions of talented musicians in this field deserve to be further celebrated,” reads the MOBO’s Twitter post.
“The MOBO Awards Judging Panel have actually discussed this and we will continue to review potential category expansions for future Award ceremonies. We will always do our best to represent black music talent across a variety of genres,” it continues.
The duo were naturally delighted with this acknowledgement and remain hopeful that rock music will receive a seat at the MOBOs table when the awards show hopefully returns as a live event in 2021.
Equally, for Amy and Georgia, their call to recognise black rock talent at such an influential event is part of a wider learning process they’ve embarked on this year. Among the artists they mention in their open letter is Sister Rosetta Tharpe – the guitar trailblazer who scored a string of hits in the ‘30s and ‘40s and, as the pair point out, exerted an indelible influence on rock’n’roll.
For Love and South, their discovery of Sister Rosetta is symbolic of the period of reflection inspired by Black Lives Matter – the movement whose impact in the wake of George Floyd’s brutal death in May has pricked our collective consciousness.
“As women of colour, we’re literally looking into our own history and learning things we were never taught in school,” explains Georgia. “We need to learn so we can educate others. We want to have the right things to say to our audience because know what we want to express, but we want to know the history so we can work out how we should express it.”
“As a whole, we haven’t actually acknowledged a whole section of people that have contributed to this society in many different ways, and music just plays a part of that,” adds Amy. “When the whole Black Lives Matters movement started to happen, we realised that there was so much to do that it gave us anxiety because we thought, ‘Where do we even start?’ Well, if everyone just handles their workplaces or their own area, then that can make a difference. Obviously our area is music, so for us it was about calling out [racism] in the rock community, and calling for things to diversify and be inclusive.”
As well as exploring to the past, Nova Twins operate decidedly in the here-and-now. Nowhere is that more evident than in the creation of the Voices For The Unheard playlist. The duo’s hand-picked collection of “real bangers”, the playlist gathers together a wide range of rock artists of colour, among them Liverpool progressive metal outfit Loathe, London punks Bob Vylan and East Coast crossover crew Oxymorrons — the latter being the latest signing to Jason Aalon Butler’s label 333 Wreckords, which is also home to the Novas.
“It’s about giving voice to a community,” says Georgia of the playlist that has also spawned an hour-long radio take-over on influential Brixton-based station Reprezent.
If the Black Lives Matter movement has encouraged the duo’s cultural reflections, then the enforced suspension of their musical activities due to the impact of COVID-19 has led to a different type of contemplation.
“When you’re in a band and you’re trying to ‘make it’, you’re just so in your bubble all the time that you don’t get time to think about what you want from things,” says Amy. “So it’s been quite nice to stop and take a walk in the park, or watch a documentary and learn something. It’s been a case of becoming a bit more human again by coming off our phones and realising that there’s so much more to life than we’re used to. You understand that music is what you love but that people are – and will always be – the most important thing.”
While Amy and Georgia have been busy writing the follow-up to their debut four‑K rated album, Who Are The Girls?, they have also taken time out to play a show as part of Kerrang!’s world-dominating K! Pit series in association with Nordic Spirit.
The Nova Twins’ set will premiere on Tuesday 8 December at 6pm (GMT), 1pm (EST) and 10am (PST) on our Facebook and YouTube. Ahead of that stream, be sure to check out Who Are The Girls? right here.
As with all of our current series of K! Pit shows, the set was filmed at Blondies, our favourite London dive bar, without an audience and in compliance with governmental guidelines. Since we couldn’t invite you along to the show, Amy and Georgia will be joining us to hangout and chat live during the stream itself.
There’s also the chance for you to win one of 20 exclusive signed posters created for the show that never was. But that’s not all! Thanks to Nordic Spirit – the UK’s No 1 Nicotine Pouch* — you have the opportunity to win a hoodie and a rucksack full of swag, which contains a beanie hat, a mug, a wireless phone charger and headphones.
Nordic Spirit are also partnering with the Download festival. That means that over the next few weeks, one person will win a ‘golden ticket’ to Download in 2021. That ‘golden ticket’ will allow you and three friends to enjoy VIP access to the festival – camping included!
To enter the competition, you need to answer the following question:
In what year did Nova Twins last play Download?
Know the answer? Then fill in the form below! If you can’t see the form, head over here to enter the competition.
Nordic Spirit is a 100% tobacco-free nicotine pouch perfect for when smoking or vaping is not possible. You must be over 18 to enter this competition. Nordic Spirit products contain nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive substance. Existing adult nicotine users can log on to the Nordic Spirit site to claim a free sample.
*IRi Market Place, volume Share, Nicotine Pouch Category, Total UK, YTD to w/e 04/10/2020 — For more information or to verify contact nordicspirit.co.uk/contact.
Terms & Conditions
1. The Nordic Spirit X K! Pit Prize Draw (the “Prize Draw”) is open to people:
a. aged 18 and over
b. residents of the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man
2. The Prize Draw is not open to employees of the Company and their families, the Company’s agencies or their employees and families or anyone else professionally associated with the Prize Draw.
3. To enter the Prize Draw, entrants must answer the question posed on this page.
4. The Prize Draw is open from December 8. The winners will be chosen at random and will be contacted by email by Dec 21.
5. By entering this promotion, entrants confirm that they have read and agree to be bound by these terms and conditions and by the decisions of the Company, which are final in all matters relating to the promotion. Failure to do so will result in the forfeiture of the prize. No correspondence will be entered into. The Company or its agencies accept no responsibility for any loss, injury or damage suffered through acceptance of the prize. The Company reserves the right to refuse entry or refuse to award the prize to anyone in breach of these terms and conditions.
6. The Company or its agencies will not be responsible for the non-inclusion of entries as a result of technical failures or otherwise, including any such failure which is within the control of the Company or its agencies. Proof of submission of entry is not proof of receipt of entry.
7. There will be 20 winners selected, who will each win the following prize: A signed poster and K! Pit rucksack containing a hoody, beanie, wireless phone charger, product giftbox (for those qualified), rucksack, mug, headphones.
8. One additional ‘golden ticket’ prize will be offered at random across all K! Pit competitions which will run until Dec 20. This will consist of VIP access to the Download festival for one competition winner + three friends, and will include camping.
9. The winner of the golden ticket will be chosen at random and will be notified in written form when the posters and rucksacks are mailed out.
10. In the event of the festival being cancelled, no alternative prize will be offered.
11. Only one entry per competition per person (note: each stream will be accompanied by a new competition which can be entered into on each occasion). Entries must not be sent through agencies or third parties.
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21. Company: Gallaher Limited, Members Hill, Brooklands Road, Weybridge, Surrey KT13 OQU.
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