Wonderland get to know dream-pop quintet, Novella, a little bit better.
Novella are a London-based group who are making waves with a line in woozy dream pop with a strong psychedelic streak; they have their beginnings in Brighton, 2010, when two guitarists and a bassist – Hollie Warren, Sophy Hollington and Suki Sou – became friends through a mutual love of Black Sabbath and 60s counter-culture (as you do). Fast forward a few years, add a drummer, Iain Lewis, and that essential keyboardist, Isabel Spurgeon, and Novella have a debut album under their belts, Land. The record manages to take their wide range of influences (Krautrock, Shoegaze, psych-rock…you get the picture) and distill and condense them into a cohesive sound that is all Novella’s own.
With a distinct visual identity, the video for the track ‘Land Gone’ features the achingly millennial mixture of a beret, a Western shirt and a backdrop of marbled psychadelica, as well as a thoughtful, considered approach to making music (their limited output thus far is evidence of their quality-over-quantity philosophy, a rare thing in our digital age), Novella are destined for good things. We sit down with them to talk influences, the gender dynamics of an almost-Girl-Band, and the importance of quitting your day job.
What was the moment you all decided you want to make music together?
Sophy: Suki invited me around Hollie’s flat in Whitechapel in 2010, with the idea that we should all get together and talk about forming a band.
It’s a while ago now, but I vividly remember listening to Stereolab’s ‘The Light That Will Cease To Fail’ and feeling a collective sense of ‘ah!’. We’d all played music for a long time, but never in a group and the idea of doing it with those guys just felt right and comfortable.
You have a really distinctive sound, how do you think this has developed over time?
Sophy: We’ve been in Novella together for nearly six years, and the fact that none of us had been in bands before meant that we were all coming at it from an unbiased angle. Obviously since then we’ve been lucky enough to be joined by Iain and Isabel who’ve added their own idiosyncrasies to the mix. We’re pretty democratic when it comes to writing and no one person takes complete control which means the song writing process takes a little longer, but in the end it feels a bit more honest (to us anyway)
What’s the dynamic like having one boy in the band and the rest girls?
Sophy: I don’t think that’s something that we really consider to be a dynamic, we’re all human beans man.
What was the inspiration behind the song, and video for, sentences?
Sophy: The song’s actually about something pretty horrific that happened in my life a few years ago. The video (In contrast) is nothing to do with the sentiments of the song. We wanted to make eye-candy without a huge budget, so video-supremo and friend Charlotte took us in to her basement with neon, jelly and eggs and we just messed about. There’s a general sense of serenity that oozes from the song that Charlotte honed in on.
If you could have written any song, what would it be?
Iain: Mother Sky by Can or I Feel Love by Donna Summer, both of these tunes are close to perfection.
London and Brighton are very different places, do you think influences from both places show in your music?
Iain: Both towns have played large parts in our lives and therefore influenced us in some ways, but whether this shows up in the music, I’m not sure, though I did record the sound of an Underground train the other day for a potential rhythm.
How do you find touring in such a large group of people?
Iain: It’s a bit of a squeeze in the Ford Fiesta, but we manage.
What is your main influence when writing music?
Sophy: More often than not (and always the case with the ones you actually like) the songs seem like pre-formed little guys and you’re just channeling them in to real life by drinking ten cups of coffee and hitting a guitar over and over again until it’s all the way out.
Do you think that your music influences your aesthetic as a band, or the other way round?
Iain: I don’t think I’ve ever been happier than when I was wearing a 1970’s German shirt whilst playing Krautrock-esque rhythms at a gig in Berlin a few weeks ago. Does this answer the question?
What’s the hardest bit about being in a band?
Iain: Post day job rehearsals can sometimes be tough if you’re lacking in energy, so I guess the hardest thing is still having a day job.
Novella kick off their UK tour on the 30th of October.