September 23, 2015

Nimmo are a band whose time has come. Having made themselves familiar faces on the London live scene for the last five years, tirelessly plugging away in venues of all shapes and sizes, they’ve won themselves a dedicated army of followers, a major record deal and a string of recorded releases.

Their newest single ‘Dilute This’ has been winning plaudits from all over, as well as remixes from Maya Jane Coles and David Mayer. The electric energy of their live shows keeps converting new followers. And the album is on its way after a year of honing. It feels like a big moment.

We caught up with co-frontwomen Sarah Nimmo and Reva Gauntlet ahead of their show at Hackney’s Oslo last week to hear all about it.

UO: Hey Nimmo! I’ve been looking at your tour dates for September and you’ve got a busy old month!

Sarah: Yeah! Finally- we’ve been locked away!
Reva: We’ve been in the studio for- about a year, actually? Just writing our album, so yeah, we’re really excited to have some dates going!

UO: You’ve been playing live for a long time now…

Reva: Yeah we’ve been playing live together for what, five years? And even before, we live in London, we’re Londoners, so just playing in clubs and stuff growing up, open mic nights and stuff like that, and then -yeah. Got signed when we left uni, and things have grown and grown since then.
Sarah: We’ve worked very hard to be where we are! It’s good, because like, the live side has really informed the record. I think for other people it is the other way around, but we are very much a live band at heart. That’s where we’ve come from; we’ve always made live music…
Reva: Probably why the studio side has taken a year!
Sarah: Yeah! It’s been an interesting task, trying to get it sounding really live and energetic on record without it sounding like a clatter of mad people. Smashing things.

UO: Do you identify more as a live band than a studio band?

Reva: Yeah, these are first ever real recordings- we toured as a live band with no demos or recordings. That’s how we grew. We learnt everything playing live.

UO: Do you have any pre-show rituals?

Reva: Yeah, we do vocal warmups now!
Sarah: Yeah really loud.
Reva: Like, LAAAAA!
Sarah: We’ve just started. Yeah, really fucking weird. Choirboy vibes.
Reva: But like, that’s a new thing. Because we’re going on tours and stuff, you need to preserve it and not scream it into a husk on the first show.
Sarah: Yeah, and we all have a bit of alone time. Each band member goes, sits on their own to get ready and then we get together and I wind everyone up, and everyone goes, ‘SHUT UP’ and I’m going, ‘Come on, we can do this, it’s going to be amazing, going to be amazing’… I shouldn’t be giving the pep talk, because I just make everyone more nervous.

UO: How has it been taking the new material from the studio to the stage?

Reva: It’s exciting. When you’re playing the same set for a long time, you get bored of it. You get itchy feet and you want to put new things into it, so that side of it is really refreshing and great, but then it is nerve-wracking- You want to make sure everything that you’re putting out is ready, because nowadays, people film everything!
Sarah: We’ve come a bit more aware and a bit more precious about what we’ll play because people document everything.

UO: Has going from being an independent band to being on a major label changed the experience of being in a band for you?

Sarah: Yes and no…
Reva: It’s more about… when we started we were in uni, just playing together in our spare time, whenever we could. And obviously now we’re signed, it’s our job. So there’s deadlines and stuff which was obviously never a thing for us before. We all grew up together, and it’s altered the dynamic a bit, we’ve gone from just being mates, which we still are, but- we have to be a bit more professional with each other. Sorting out dates and stuff.
Sarah: But other than that it’s like we’re all still back at school with each other.
Reva: Yeah, exactly. We met at secondary school, the first day.
Sarah: We were like 11 or whatever, right at the beginning of secondary school. Reva said she liked my chain.
Reva: We were quite chavvy. She had this big silver chain.
Sarah: Gold! It was gold, man. I think it was my mum’s. Or my gran’s. I saw it and thought, ‘First day of secondary school- yep. Yoink!’ It was in Cricklewood, the school. It was called the Hampstead school, but it wasn’t anywhere near Hampstead. It was in Cricklewood, in Kilburn.

UO: Was there a formative musical experience that made you realise you wanted to be a musician?

Reva: We grew up doing creative projects together since we first met. We started off, we were really into garage, hip-hop and jungle and stuff. From writing lyrics and trying to MC it’s basically been one progression.
Sarah: It’s probably hip-hop that’s been the big thing. Just the energy of it- it made me want to throw myself around. And the camaraderie of grime, that sort of gang mentality, that drew us to where we are now, much more than a band mentality, if you know what I mean. What made us want to jump around together and act like a little team was SLK, N.A.S.T.Y. Crew, Roll Deep, all the big grime acts. When we were kids, everyone used to spit along the lyrics really aggressively, together.

UO: What about now? What are your thoughts on the state of British music now in 2015?

Reva: There’s a lot of good stuff out there, it’s just really difficult to find any of it. Even for me, as a professional musician, I don’t have any time, really!
Sarah: It’s really hard when you’re doing it yourself. Which sounds bizarre, because you’re doing music all the time…
Reva: Electronic music is really strong at the moment. There’s a few good bands…
Sarah: There’s been a good band scene, but I haven’t found many that I’ve fallen in love with. Puma Rosa, they’re supporting us tonight- this sounds like we’re just bigging up our mates, but – they are really amazing.
Reva: Yeah, they’re so good. I’m sure there’s loads of stuff out there, I’m sure we’re just guilty of not seeking it out because we’re in it ourselves.

UO: Do you think the availability of streamed music has made it easier or harder for new bands breaking through?

Reva: I’d say easier.
Sarah: It’s definitely made it easier. Without it, I don’t know, it would have been rocking up at venues with a demo tape or something, without being able to put stuff out on Myspace or Soundcloud or whatever.
Reva: Yeah I find loads of stuff through Spotify Radio or Soundcloud, yeah it’s made it way easier to get stuff out there.

UO: What’s next for you guys?

Sarah: Well we’re just finishing off recording our album. It’s basically written – I say that, but I’m sure there’ll be one song that’s written on the day of the deadline that everyone goes, ‘It has to go on!’ But for now, we’re just getting out on the road, we’ve got a new single out, Dilute This, and there’ll be another single, hopefully before Christmas- I think that’s the plan. The label might be like, no, but I think that’s the plan. And so we’re just touring I think for the rest of the year. Going out and showing everybody what we’ve been doing.
Reva: Finishing off the recording a little bit. And getting on the road.
Sarah: We’ve got a medium-sized touring van. It’s not a sleeper, we’re in the Holiday Inn. Cooked breakfast everyday. Boiled breakfast, at the Holiday Inn. It’s boiled, I’ve noticed, not fried.

UO: What, even the bacon?

Sarah: Yep, boiled. The bacon’s definitely boiled. It’s all boiled.
Reva: It definitely is.
Sarah: When we get a sleeper bus, we’ll get a hob, and we’ll fry the fuck out of everything. Fried eggs, just to make the point. Don’t bother with boiled eggs.

UO: Well, I was going to ask about where you see yourself in ten years’ time, but…

Sarah: On the sleeper bus. Frying stuff. Maybe owning a bar or a club. Somewhere really fun. Apparently, James Blunt – I’m not comparing us to James Blunt, that would be a really weird thing to do- but apparently, James Blunt owns a bar in Ibiza called Blunty’s. We saw a picture of him in there and he looked Very Happy.

UO: I bet he did.

Reva: I wouldn’t mind doing that. Hopefully in ten years, we’ll still be recording a lot of really good music. And running a bar that serves good beer.