At a time when the world was slow, everything in Nova Twins’ career suddenly sped up. Their debut album ‘Who Are The Girls?’, an eclectic and beautifully confident release melding rock with grime, R’n’B and more, was released just before lockdown, and became a sleeper hit over the course of the pandemic.
But behind the scenes, London duo Amy Love and Georgia South were already thinking ahead. Beginning with the brassy single ‘Cleopatra’, inspired by the tide of strength and solidarity shown in 2020’s Black Lives Matter protests, they began working on their second album ‘Supernova’ while being further away from each other than they had ever been before.
Sonically, it felt even more gigantic; lyrically, it was more diverse and ambitious, exploring sex positivity (‘Puzzles’), self-confidence (‘Antagonist’) and even concocting a violent feminist revenge fantasy (‘K.M.B.’). It wedged a door open for them to edge into the mainstream, and led to them becoming the first ever black female rock act to be shortlisted for the Mercury Prize. And now that said door is open, they’re hoping others will be able to come through it too.
We spoke to Amy and Georgia to get the lowdown on what their first ever Mercury shortlist means for them and the British rock scene.
“It feels amazing to [represent] this scene that is often overlooked in award ceremonies.”
— Georgia South
Talk us through the moment then when you found out you’d been shortlisted for the Mercury Prize with FREE NOW…
Georgia: We were actually in an antiques store. Luckily, we were together and we were window shopping with my mum. And we got a call from our management being like, ‘You guys been shortlisted for the Mercury!’ and we were like, ‘What the f**k! This is crazy!’ [Our manager] was like, ‘Don’t tell anyone because it’s top, top secret.’ We were just making a massive scene and then my mum was like, ‘What’s going on?’ We just couldn’t think, it was all such a blur. The only thing we could do was run down the road, which was on the beach, and go to tequila bar, and I had a nice celebratory cocktail.
What have you found that people are connecting with most on ‘Supernova’?
Georgia: They just connect with how it got us through the pandemic. It’s more personal and it touches on a lot more different subjects and has loads of light and shade. It’s very honest, and I think people could relate to that and bring it into their lives and take from it what they need to take from it to get them through things.
Amy: I think it’s such an all rounder as well. Whether we’re touching on our culture, or something as simple as a breakup, or just wanting to feel empowered, or just being human or having that kind of rage. I think we all feel those things at some point or another. What we’re trying to drive through the album is self confidence, lifting people up and making people feel good about themselves. That’s all we want for our audience.
Looking back at the album, what do you feel proudest of?
Amy: There was so much happening around that album, and there were big changes in mine and Georgia’s lives. It was the first time we’d ever been separated - we’ve always been basically living together and we’ve been on this journey together. Then when lockdown happened, we were in different households but working together. Other stuff was going on, and it was such a turbulent time for a number of reasons. The fact that we managed to more than survive, we found solace in what we were doing, and created something that we’re really, really proud of. I feel like this album will always be such a special album. And the fact that it now has “shortlisted for the Mercury Prize” attached to it, we couldn’t have asked for anything more.
Georgia: The shortlisting was like a gift to the album. We love the album as its own. It’s like the album is our child; it was like our own language for the pandemic. And, you know, we wrote all of it, so it was just our communication. Nobody else knew what we were writing or what was going on.
Not many bands from the British alternative scene get shortlisted for the Mercury Prize. What does it mean to you to have broken through that?
Georgia: It’s kind of crazy that people are saying that we’re the heaviest band to be shortlisted for the Mercury. It feels amazing to [represent] this scene that is often overlooked in award ceremonies, and generally in the more mainstream media. Hopefully this is opening another door for the scene.
Amy: Obviously the scene is looking different. Some of the stuff that we’ve been doing is trying to diversify the alt-rock scene. So for us, as two mixed girls in rock music to be shortlisted the Mercury, that’s such an amazing thing hopefully for the other young people growing up [who] will see that and realise, “I can do rock too. It doesn’t matter where I’m from, what I’m into, I could do that, too, if I want it.” We didn’t have that. We’re glad that Mercury has given them the spotlight on that as well.
You’re also the first Black female rock act to be shortlisted…
Georgia: It’s so crazy that we’re in 2022 and we’re the first, but someone’s got to be the first so we’re just happy to be here and given this opportunity!
Amy: And it’s also a testament to the women before who have managed to squeeze their way through a really tough industry to be able to even exist, and then that’s also pushed us forward to be able for us to be able to exist as well. We have to carry that on.
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