Ruthless X Nova Twins: On punk, the industry and breaking the mold.

Approaching their third Afro Punk performance and the upcoming release of a music video for their new song ‘Lose Your Head’, as well as playing at the inauguration event of MTV Kazakhstan and jet-setting to a multitude of places around the world, Nova Twins continue to remain fiercely independent and unwilling to slot into any category. Some have attempted with the highly arbitrary label of ‘grime-punk’ or ‘grunk’ (Eeeesh). Needless to say, as a term it doesn’t suffice. While browsing through their back catalogue you can quickly learn to recognise and their distinctive sound, being sonically innovative doesn’t really feel like the point with Nova Twins, nor does it seem to bother them. As Amy Love, bassist and lead vocalist states, “The sounds that Georgia (South, guitarist and backing vocalist) and I gravitate to were really, kind of, raucous. There is some anger, but it’s not all that, I find that it is the way I feel powerful, the way I feel strong. That is what I want represent to people, especially when women see us, you don’t have to be some pretty, you know, calm…”

“…reserved” adds Georgia,

“…reserved woman. You can be loud and angry, you can be fierce, you can be bold and ugly with it in the most beautiful way. I think that is just how we feel good about ourselves and that is what we want to share with people. That is what we want to represent. That is what makes it all worthwhile really.”

Those ‘classic Nova sounds’ which, according to the duo, we should expect to hear in a not too distant upcoming album, are ineffably catchy, fun and energising. A prime example of how keeping things simple can really work, and is all done with an air of humility and spoken about in an upfront way rather than trying to hide behind a veil of artistic pretentiousness.

“The theme of our songs is more the sound and then the lyrics will follow. It won’t one of those albums that is ‘about this which is inspired by this and this’ you know? There won’t be much correlation to it. One day there might be a concept EP, which might be kinda cute.’ Love says in her ever casual manner.

However, the point about representation has deeper meaning which Nova Twins are all to familiar with, having in their earlier days, battled with the industry to be able to get themselves out there in their natural form – a struggle which as black female musicians they feel even more strongly. As we were talking about their invitation to take part in a specific show at Afro Punk which brings together female black musicians of the older generation – Sister Rosetta Tharpe or Tina Turner or Betty Davis or X-Ray Specs and Ploy-Styrene, and the new generation to perform covers of each others songs – it was brought to light that maybe things haven’t progressed anywhere near as much as they should have, as Love reflected when asked about whether they feel a connection with Poly-Styrene as female non-white punks from London.

“It’s nice to have the connection to look back, cause it was rare, what she was doing, and we can look back and see it is not a foreign concept. It just doesn’t get celebrated, you know, like Fishbone and Death, these bands exist. It is nice that a few did manage to surface, we get to have some sort of reflection, cause the truth is there is not much. Especially now, with the new bands coming through, it is still a bit of a problem -it’s probably the same as it was back then – a few may get through, but there is a lack of non-white women in punk music, people definitely do see it as a white genre, but that is not necessarily true.”

None of this has stopped the Twins from thriving and they seemed to stoically avoid any suggestion that they are at all phased by institutional racism and sexism. It does give a grim and depressing lens on hopes for development to a more representative and equal music industry. Nova Twins have gotten where they are now on self-releases and working very independently, which is impressive, however, it points towards how unsupportive the industry can be for those artists, particular for the non-cis-white-males, who don’t fit into pigeonholed categories.

Although they appear to be taking each day as it comes and have a flippant perspective on their future – which is understandable, as it seems nothing will stop them on the trajectory they are on now – it’s clear they have a strong sense of who they are and how to best enact that. There’s a lot to come from these two and I hope they continue fusing activism and art, in ways such as raising money for MIND Charity by selling jewellery made from old guitar strings and not adhereing to any prescribed category. Check them out live at dates across London, including at The Lexington for the LOUD WOMEN summer party – and across the world.

 

Words by Nick Hann
Photography by Marieke Hargreaves-Macklon
Styling by Mekel Bailey and Ruby Bukhari

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