Meet the new gen rock duo on a quest to diversify the music scene
In a Covid landscape, creativity and the subcultures which spring from it have been impacted in ways beyond measure. It is in this context that the Dr. Martens storytelling platform, Dr. Martens Presents, has pivoted, offering artists support to overcome the challenges they are facing at a time when it is needed most.
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With lockdowns still in place across the world, musicians and creatives continue to white-knuckle their way through 2021. So how are they helping each other along the way? THE FACE has teamed up with Dr. Martens Presents for multi-part series Collective Creativity, which harnesses the power of collective creativity across the UK and Europe.
In the first part of this series, we heard from Liverpudlian radio station Melodic Distraction. Next, we turned to Berlin-based duo MADANII & L:LUCID. For part three, we spoke to Jean-Charles Leuvrey, founder of Parisian internet radio station Hotel Radio Paris. Now, we’re turning closer to home to hear from South London-based new rock duo Nova Twins.
Below, Nova Twins tell us how they’ve been bringing their corner of the music scene together in a time of isolation, and introduce THE FACE to two young rising creatives.
Biologically speaking, Amy Love and Georgia South are not related, but that doesn’t stop the punk duo referring to themselves as sisters. The Londoners first met as teenagers, when Love, then in college, formed a band with South’s brother. “I got introduced to the family, and never left,” Love laughs.
Georgia South’s music lineage comes from her parents, who are themselves musicians. Growing up, their home was the centre of the community, “a kind of musical hub.” One rainy day, encouraged by her father, Georgia South picked up the bass and Amy Love began layering “rappy, singy vocals” on top. “And that was it,” Love smiles. “We went on this journey together and we’ve been on it ever since.”
When the lockdown began back in March 2020, the Nova Twins were on tour. “We were a bit naive at first,” South remembers. As the reality of the scale of the pandemic began to sink in, the duo found a shared sense of purpose in music. “We found solace in writing songs, and that was our way to feel motivated again, and actually feel like ourselves,” South says. “It shaped our lockdown in a way. When all your goals go out the window, it’s good to have things to keep you guided instead of feeling lost.”
Locked down separately, for the first time in ten years, Love and South found themselves living apart. “We’ve always been living together and doing everything together,” Love says. “So it was a really strange and foreign concept for us to be so separate. It changed the way we wrote because we didn’t have the same live, frantic energy which we’d usually incorporate into our music. This time we’ve had to channel it in a different way.”
Nova Twins have channelled that energy into campaigning for greater visibility and inclusion of POC in rock music. During the BLM movement, the duo created Voices for the Unheard, a playlist showcasing the work of musicians of colour. The positive impact is already visible in the community around them. “I think we can see a change in terms of the community banding together,” South says. “I think more people collaborate now within the community. We’re definitely trying to pull people together to shine more light on them because it’s so important.”
“I think people are held accountable now,” Love adds. “Before, Georgia and I would talk about the Rock and Hip Hop communities, and how we didn’t really have a place in either. But it was almost frowned upon when we talked about it. After the BLM movement, so many of us started to reevaluate, reeducate, and really understand what it is that we were dealing with. We were able to comfortably speak out, unapologetically. So many other artists like us have the same experience. We think it’s important that for rock and alt music to survive, it diversifies.”
Nova Twin’s latest project, brought to life with the help of Dr Marten’s Presents, is a physical extension of Voices for the Unheard: an abridged vinyl version of their playlist, bringing together POC rock, alt, metal artists in one place.
“We love collecting vinyl, and we thought it would be great to put it in physical form,” Love says. With a selection of 12 artists from the playlist and artwork by South Indian illustrator and artist Osheen Siva, Voices For The Unheard is, like the girls themselves, unapologetic. “The band world can feel really competitive,” Love explains. “We thought, fuck that, let’s be a herd, let’s be a community. The only way to do that is to reach out to other artists.”
When asked what lessons they’ve learned over the past year which they’d like to pass on to young Black musicians and artists, Georgia South is clear. “Speak up. Don’t have any filter. The better you let it out and speak your mind, the better you’ll feel.”
Amy Love has learnt that life is about who you surround yourself with. “Keep good company,” she says. “Take the long road if you need to, but stick to your own truth. Keep believing it yourself.”
Striving against an industry which pits musicians against one another in a Darwinian race to the top, Nova Twins run on community spirit. “It’s good coming out of your own headspace and not being afraid to reach out to someone different to you,” Love says. “I think by doing that you discover better ideas, you go down roads you’ve never explored before. I think being out of your comfort zone is when you’re doing it right. If you’re in your comfort zone, you’re not going anywhere.”
Do you remember the moment when you first started calling yourself an artist?
I remember calling myself an artist when I was a child. I don’t think I fully comprehended what it meant, just the vague idea of a living involving playing with colours everyday.
How would you say South Indian culture and your Dalit and Tamilian heritage has influenced your craft?
I belong to a lower caste community called Pariyar in Tamil Nadu, South India. We were originally believed to have been drummers (‘parai’ translates to drum in Tamil) and were called upon to spread information street to street, as musicians at auspicious occasions and as mourners at funerals. However once our population increased, we were forced to take up occupations that were considered ‘unclean’ and tended to cultivating lands held by (Upper Caste) Brahmins. Pariyars are a sub section of the larger Dalit population in India — The lower caste minority community that are subjugated to an enormous amount of discrimination and rejection in the society today.
I’m interested in creating worlds where woman, people of colour, queer and underrepresented (Dalit/lower caste) communities are defined — as not only existing but also as protagonists and with their own fully fleshed out journeys. Especially in the futuristic and sci-fi realms, where narratives of radical and progressive stories feature people of colour are still not as prevalent in the mainstream arts.
You’re based in Goa right now. How did you first came into contact with Nova Twins?
I was introduced to Nova Twins when Dr. Martens Presents commissioned me for the Voices for the Unheard vinyl. They found me through my work for Decolonize Fest in London. I was instantly obsessed with Nova Twins’ voices, style and what they stand for! They are very much in line with the strong vibrant female characters that I like to explore and represent in my art practice.
Tell us about the sleeve you’ve been working on for Voices for the Unheard.
Nova Twins have been fighting for more representation for PoC alternative artists via the creation of their Voices For The Unheard platform and playlist, both of which aim to spotlight emerging PoC artists. The sleeve that I have been working on is for the limited-edition vinyl that will raise money for The Black Curriculum — an organisation that addresses the lack of Black British history in the UK Curriculum.
I had a lot of fun creating the artwork for the sleeve! It features punk, radical and unapologetic characters that pay tribute to the amazing artists featured in the compilation.
Do you have an unrealised project which you’d love to manifest this year..?
Something that I’m already most excited and anxious about this year is the opening of my first solo show in Bombay this April. I also really miss making murals outdoors. Hopefully when lockdowns and travel restrictions get more lenient, I would love to be able to travel and paint again.
What does collective creativity mean to you in 2021?
It means support, collaboration, solidarity, teamwork, problem solving together in order to create new and exciting outcomes.
When and why did you start out as a designer?
I’ve been a designer my entire life but it became official when I graduated with my BA (Hons) in 2016. My grandparents were tailors back in the day, so fashion definitely runs in the family.
Tell us the story of how you first met Nova Twins.
I’ve known Georgia and Amy since school days. Rocking out at open mic nights, to chilled jamming sessions at the Nova family home…
What have you been working on with Nova Twins lately?
The latest collaboration was a photoshoot of Asbo Mag in my hand-made bespoke jackets — they looked fierce on the cover! So much time and patience went into the creation of those jackets and it’s sure has paid off; those jackets turn heads everywhere they go!
In a dream world, we’d all be getting ready for a night out. What would be your fantasy look? And which song would you pick from Nova Twins playlist to be playing as you walked into the function?
Now imagine you pull up to the club dressed to the nines in matte black skintight leather, thigh-high kinky boots walking in whilst Nova Twin’s Lose Your Head plays on full blast… Epic!
What does collective creativity mean to you in 2021?
Creativity plays such an important role in our society. The world doesn’t function without it. Pure creativity comes from being able to experience oneself with no fear of judgment. Creativity in 2021, the key word is “Inclusivity” – shining a wider spotlight. Now, more than ever, the stage is open to new and innovative talent for different walks of life.
Nova Twins Presents Voices For The Unheard is available to pre-order for £19.99 until 1 March via Blood Records all proceeds will go to The Black Curriculum — a social enterprise founded in 2019 by young people to address the lack of Black British history in the UK Curriculum.