Five on it: Nova Twins transcend heights on new album Supernova, empowering themselves and others
More black artists are now taking up space in the alternative music scene. Plus new music from Kadhja Bonet, Princess Nokia, Halsey and Greentea Peng.
17 Jun 2022
There is something about alternative music that – in my opinion – isn’t quite the same with any other genre. It is the energy that maintains its potency even when transmitted through headphones instead of speakers, or the primal ferocity of a live setting. Perhaps it is the sense of community that comes from alternative spaces, the safe knowledge that, at high school, you were all part of the universal ‘Loser’s Club’ bonded together by eyeliner and unpopularity, despite whatever guise your adult self aged into.
Things are a bit different, however, if you are a person of colour. Heavy genres like rock and metal have been historically inhabited by the cis white male, despite havings its roots in Black culture. In fact, alternative spaces, and the genre itself, have always felt exclusive to anyone who is of a marginalised gender or from the LGBTQ+ community, not just people of colour. And while marginalised rock fans have created their own safe spaces to express their passion for the music – whether that be through live settings like Decolonise Fest or in media, like the podcast On Wednesdays We Wear Black – feeling comfortable and safe from discrimination in the community as a whole should feel achievable as opposed to a pipe dream. As Nilüfer Yanya told gal-dem: “The music industry is so powerful in how it perpetuates a white image in alternative music,” so much so that she – like so many – grew up believing “alternative music = white”.
“[Nova Twins’] music has struck a chord with die-hard rock fans and casual listeners alike”
As of late, it feels as though Black artists are taking up more space in alternative media – acts like Bob Vylan, Meet Me @ the Altar, Rico Nasty, The Linda Lindas, and Nova Twins have all had cover stories in seminal rock magazine Kerrang!. This overdue recognition is not lost on Nova Twins’ Amy Love and Georgia South, whose second album Supernova drops today. The impact they can have on young fans of colour is something they take seriously. “When we see kids like that [at gigs], we literally look at each other and say, ‘We need to go mental today’,” said Georgia in a recent interview with Kerrang!. “It might be the one chance they get to see themselves in a punky setting.”
Nova Twins themselves were influenced by Black female artists like Missy Elliott and Beyoncé, who “taught us that we can be eccentric, we can be beautiful, we can be strong”. Despite the disparity in genre, it is something the duo have truly embodied –their tenacity leading them to support everyone from Little Simz to Skunk Anansie to Bring Me the Horizon at The O2 in London. With an eclectic sound that spans a multitude of sub-genres including metal, punk and rap-rock, it is clear their music has struck a chord with die-hard rock fans and casual listeners alike. While their debut album Who Are the Girls? spawned mighty singles like ‘Taxi’ and ‘Play Fair’, on Supernova they challenged themselves to stretch their sound even further. Recent single ‘Puzzles’ explores a sex-positive narrative through their love of R&B, whislt ‘Cleopatra’ celebrates their pride in their heritage in the wake of contemplating socio-political protests and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“A constant theme throughout the album was to feel empowered,” Georgia told Kerrang!. Nova Twins are empowering countless others too.
Nova Twins – ‘Choose Your Fighter’
In case we hadn’t made it clear already, Nova Twins mean business, and their latest single ‘Choose Your Fighter’ packs a punch. A squirming intro quickly gives way to pounding rhythms and fuzzy guitar work, deploying an ominous air as Georgia and Amy unleash their full force on unsuspecting victims. Accompanied with a video that harks back to 1990s battle game favourites like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and Tekken, ‘Choose Your Fighter’ is relentless, noisy and a whole lotta fun to boot; consider it a K.O.
Kadhja Bonet – ‘JGS’
“Your life is not over, you’re just getting started,” states Kadhja Bonet, over and over, in new single “JGS”. Her latest track follows this year’s earlier outings ‘For You’ and ‘Dear Gina’ and builds upon her timeless sound that seamlessly blends retro elements with a contemporary twist. Combining 1970s funk and soul with irresistible melodies that continuously prove her to be a truly deft songwriter, ‘JGS’ is imbued with the palpable essence of hope. Inspired by Kadhja’s own postpartum depression, she reflects, “I often write what I need to hear, and not what I want to say… this song is meant to remind you of the many opportunities for happiness you still have.”
Princess Nokia – ‘Diva’
Making a welcome return with the playful single ‘No Effort’ was a pleasant surprise for fans of Princess Nokia, who will be similarly pleased with her speedy drop of new track ‘Diva’. A breezy yet sensual slice of R&B and a love letter to her Puerto Rican heritage, ‘Diva’ is an unapologetic anthem of self-glorification and empowerment, with Princess Nokia channelling her inner goddess through the women she adores: “Beyoncé, Shakira… Selena, Britney, Christina, rest in peace Aaliyah.”
Halsey – ‘So Good’
There’s been a lot of attention on Halsey in the past few weeks, including their flooded and abandoned Maryland show, but largely due to the wider conversation sparked about the sad state of music industry marketing in the age of TikTok. After claiming that their record label asked them to “fake a viral moment” on TikTok to release their next single, Halsey’s post criticising the situation ironically gained momentum. At least the record label made good on their promise. Compared to their recent, industrial influenced album If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power, ‘So Good’ sees Halsey lean back into their pop roots, with peppy beats dancing over its bittersweet core.
Greentea Peng – ‘Stuck in the Middle’
Whilst this year’s earlier outing, ‘Your Mind’ – released in partnership with YoungMinds organisation – showed a spikier side to her eclectic sound that spanned jazz, reggae and soul, Greentea Peng’s comeback ‘Stuck in the Middle’ dials down the tone. Teaming up with producers MJ Cole and longtime collaborator Swindles, the track takes an easy-going stance, striking a lackadaisical bassline and pattering beats amid brass interjections, as it slowly undulates around Greentea’s poised delivery.
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