With universal accolade pouring in from some of the biggest music publications on planet earth, and with no fewer than 350 live shows performed in four years, Beijing’s Nova Heart are ready to take the world by storm. The band have just released their latest single ‘Lackluster No.’ taken from their forthcoming album taken from their upcoming self-titled debut album. Tomatrax caught up with lead singer Hlen Feng to talk about the band’s music!
How did the band form?
Started as a solo project, met Rodion on tour in Istanbul. He was actually from Rome DJ ing there. We got along and did things via email for a year Beijing to Rome. Later the musicians recruited from friends and old bandmates and we started playing together, changed the whole sound after touring the world, especially to places to like Madagascar or Reunion Island or Iceland. Pretty standard really.
Where did the name Nova Heart come from?
Random selection of words formed together by lottery and decided by anonymous friend voting via old school method of mass email spamming.
What made you pick ‘Lackluster No. 1’ as your latest single?
Rosemary’s baby, and my nightmares about kids. The album is meant to be a film beginning to end, a psychological thriller Lynchian head trip, and this was the first story I envisioned perfectly in my head. Details changed but the story remained the same. It was always going to be first.
You’ll soon release your debut album, how will the rest of the album compare with ‘Lackluster No. 1’?
Different, we didn’t set out to make a sound which is what everyone wants to do these days. We had ideas of what worked for us, but it was more about taking the chemistry of all the different ingredients and making a whole meal instead of a cake, so yeah, we set out to make a movie instead of trying to make a sound. It made the process more fun and cohesive without having to constantly think about if we were going too far off course, because instead of working with trends or sounds you worked in visuals and story. . . which made it easier somehow to be creative and not get all neurotic about music industry stuff. The movie is in my head still, it will come out piece by piece.
What made you decide to make the album self titled?
We wanted to call it a Drive to Our End in the beginning but as we started working on the album art work and it was such different visual then the title, which created another visual that was only a piece of the story not the whole. We didn’t want to leave it that clear. It’s just Nova Heart, leaves a bit of space for the imagination.
You were previously an MTV VJ, how does being a VJ compare to making music?
Kinda sucks, it was brief. I liked being a radio DJ better. Different highs, different lows. I met a lot of people hosting music shows, you meet a lot of artists that are pretending to be deep and you also meet people that are honest and interesting, and you also meet people that have been trained by a publicist on what to say and how to say it. After awhile you start being able to read an artist, see if they were followed along by a particularly attentive handler on the side or people just said whatever the fuck they wanted. Very few people say whatever the fuck they want these days because we are always afraid of having things taken out of context so someone will think you’re a racist, or a sexist, or a marxist, or a fanatic. . . there’s different kinds of dogmas now, and people snap to judgement. Liberal Dogma, Conservative Dogma, whatever. And everyone always feels like they are being observed and judged, social media trained us all I guess. Yeah, so interviewing people got boring. I like being an artist, even if it means I occasionally piss people off. How sad would the world be if everyone just respected boundaries and lived a polite life. It would be shit.
You recently played at Glastonbury, what was that like?
I liked it more then I thought I would, playing was okay, but the festival itself is like Alice in Wonderland. You take the pill you get big, you eat some cake you become really really small. There’s a river of bodies flowing between the main stages following apps to tell them what big act was playing next, and there was a lot of walking. It’s only when you got off the river and started exploring away from the flow of the crowd, that you got to the cooler parts of Glastonbury. . . kinda like life. My favorite place was staring deeply into the Shrinel Richie. One of the best moments of my existence really.
What is the music scene like in Beijing?
Depressing, surprising, frustrating, overstuffed, under appreciated, coddled, commercialized, rebellious, and dirty. Bunch of Bi polar people walking around stumbling into shit and trying to figure it all out without the interference of god, incredibly neurotic. Well that’s China in general. Or maybe New York. . . I guess they are similar, but with more Stalinesque structures and no bagels.
You’ve been dubbed the Blondie of China, do you think that’s a fair call?
No, but if it helps I have blond pubes.
Do you ever listen to your own music?
Every time I play my show. Honestly, it kinda feels like a waste of time doesn’t it. I mean you make it, you think about every aspect of it, you perform it, you know something really well. If I just sat there listening to my own shit all the time, that would be really narcissistic and there wouldn’t be any time to listen to other stuff. I want to taste other things have other experiences. I don’t know it would feel like reading over and over again your own Facebook page going, well that was interesting eh!
What music do you listen to?
Everything everything! Except the following which I can say I don’t like and have no appreciation for: Dubstep, Thrash Metal, Goa Trance, or anything that uses the word “Hard” in the descriptive. Other then that, I’m pretty open. . . generally I find I like stuff that was made before the invention of the CD is more my taste these days. I grew up listening to classical music cause I knew it would piss my friends off. I was a very hormonal teenager and I knew piano concertos could kill a good party and I loved it. I hated people especially party people, until I discovered drugs.
What do you plan on doing once the album is out?
I plan on making another one.
Check out Nova Heart’s website to find out more!