Nova Heartbegan in Beijing, China in 2012 as the project of frontwoman Helen Feng. On Oct. 2, the three-piece, indie-pop band will release its self-titled, debut album. The group has less than 400 live shows under its belt but is drawing comparisons to Blondie and New Order.
Below, read The Spec‘s interview with Nova Heart, stream a track on Bandcamp and watch the music video for “Lackluster No.”…
Tell us a little about yourselves… I’m a musician in Beijing, and have been working in production, media, and music in China since 2004. Born in Beijing, raised in different and varied places in North America, and returned to work for MTV, local, and national media hosting music and arts programming. In 2004, I started a band and since have been part of the China music and arts scene for over a decade. It’s been surreal.
How long have you been making music? Since age 4, so a long long time, but nothing that ever got finished and performed until University, and then later, I didn’t regularly start writing music until 2004.
Who/what are your influences? I’m influenced most by storytellers, whether it’s a filmmaker, an auteur with a unique vision, or writers, or musicians as well if they can incorporate all the things of story, mood, atmosphere, and depth. I like things in layers, not a simple love song, but performances that are layered, and it feels the more the layers the darker things tend to get, so I like dark influences. Kubrick, Nina Simone, Leonard Cohen, Dostyevsky, and the list goes on and on…
What is your favorite song you’ve released and why? My favorite song is still “My Song 9” off of the first album or “Lackluster No” off of this one, but there are others that are a close favorites. Having favorite music kinda feels like picking favorite children so maybe it’s not so nice to do that. For me, it’s usually the first three days I finish a track, and then I start picking at things I want to change about it. But for “My Song 9” and “Lackluster No,” I think it has a lot of the story and depth that I talk about without getting too over burdened with colors, both have a kind of minimalistic vibe which sometimes I feel really meant that we kept the meat of the track and none of the fat, without having it become boring or just another electropop song that is just everywhere now. I feel that’s nice.
Upcoming projects, where do you want to go from here? I have a few collaborations coming up and releasese with other artists, and this year we might take a few of them and put them into an EP. Lots of touring, and oh yeah, starting my own label Fake Love Music. We have new artists signed now, and the exciting part is being part of their development. Next November we will be pushing one artists SHAO, with a release on Tresor, the first Chinese artist to release on a big techno label in Berlin. Pretty exciting to know that we are doing something that is bigger than just one band.
If you could no longer be a musician, what would you be or do for a living? I’d like to be writer or a filmmaker. I feel all this is preparation and one day I’ll hopefully finally get to direct a feature film. The video for “Lackluster No.” was my first try, and frankly, I cringe when I watch parts of it and I feel really proud in other parts. I think it was a good start at finding my own language in music, in visuals, in film, and after that, hopefully telling something interesting with that language.
What musicians or bands do you look up to? Nina Simone. I think I’m asked this question everytime and everytime it’s an easy answer… because she’s just rough, and talented, an amazing musician that never sounds canned and every emotion felt raw and real. She wasn’t perfect, she was perfectly imperfect, and her expression was deep, angry, and unwilling to bend. That was the most important thing.
Why do you make music? Because I have to make something, and music was the most immediate thing I could make. One day I will make other things, like books and films, and paintings. I wouldn’t want to live if I wasn’t allowed to create things from nothing. I’m terrible at consuming, I’m better at making.
Anything else you’d like readers to know that we haven’t asked you about? Global warming is real, but nothing is absolute truth, and if you think you have the absolute truth the further you get from it. Compassion is more difficult than violence, and violence is more difficult than apathy.