Brittany "Chi" Coney and Denisia "Blu June" Andrews have been working together as the songwriting and producing duo NOVA WAV for over a decade. Based in Los Angeles, the Grammy-winning pair has collaborated on hits for Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Rihanna,
Ariana Grande, H.E.R., and many others. They chatted with
Lisa Machac of Omni Sound Project about their current work and the future they envision for themselves.

You’re known as a duo. How did you start in music and recording individually before you met?

Blu June: The way that I got into music, it’s something that’s been innate in my family. My mom was a singer. My dad. My sister is musically inclined. My brother. Once I graduated from college and I stopped playing sports, I thought, “Okay, cool; now I’m going to dive more into my love for music and my passion for it.” I started out as an artist. I wrote my music because I thought that all artists wrote their own music. Then I found out that wasn’t true. The artist side of it wasn’t for me, because I didn’t like the spotlight. I met this guy who said, “You should just be a songwriter.” A lightbulb went off. I thought, “That’s my calling.” I started concentrating on writing songs and learning more about the songwriting process. That’s when I met Chi, through a mutual acquaintance.

Chi: I played alto saxophone in band growing up. I remember my granddad and certain people saying that I would get on the piano and make up songs when I was 3 and 4. I stuck with the saxophone from 6th through 11th grade. I was in marching band as well. I remember being in high school and walking through a hallway, and I heard this rapper. He was talking about how he made his own beats on FruityLoops [now Image-Line’s FL Studio]. I went home and downloaded it. I’ve been crazy about making music ever since.

I heard something where you said you recorded your answering machine messages when you were little?

C: I’d make up raps and songs for my answering machine.

BJ: The golden days.

C: The golden days, yeah!

You’re both from Florida, and then you joined forces in Atlanta. How long were you in Atlanta before you moved out to L.A.?

C: Maybe six years. She was living in Tallahassee and I said, “Yo, if you quit your job and move to Atlanta, we’re going to be huge. Quit and move here!” She was crazy enough to do it. We stayed there for six years, then we realized that there was faster traction here in L.A. for us. We were like, “Yo, let’s go and see what happens.”

How were you collaborating before you lived in the same town?

BJ: Chi was sending tracks through email, and I would record myself via [Apple] GarageBand. She even taught me to use [Avid] Pro Tools screen-sharing. I didn’t know how to use Pro Tools, and Chi was like, “You need to learn how to use something other than GarageBand, because this doesn’t sound good.” That’s how we started to work remotely, before I decided to move to Atlanta.

Chi, you started with FruityLoops, right?

C: I started with FruityLoops, then moved to [Propellerhead] Reason, then [Apple] Logic, and then Ableton [Live]. I found out about Pro Tools by interning at Grand Hustle Records [formerly Grand Hustle Entertainment]. It’s now called Hustle Gang Music. It’s T.I.’s record label. I was super unqualified for the job. I was like, “Yeah, I know Pro Tools!” I just picked it up on the spot.

What did you find to be different once you moved out to L.A.?

BJ: Things move at a much quicker pace here, like getting into the spaces we wanted to get into. It is also a lot more collaborative. There are so many different talented people. We started learning about so many things that we had no idea about – especially in the pop world – like sequencing and song structure. You think you have it figured out, but then you get thrown into the fire.

C: Being here, the accessibility to the artist is so different than anywhere else. To be able to say, “Hey, we’re going to do this song together today,” your chances of being able to do that are a little bit greater than sending tracks through email. That’s been fortunate for us. We’re in the studio with the Beyoncés, the Jay-Zs, and all kinds of people.

You have said that you’re looking forward to mentoring younger folks someday.

C: We’re...

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