Two years ago, composition/production duo Nova Wav spoke with Beyoncé over pizza about her seventh full-length album, “Renaissance.”
Released on Friday, the 16-track disc is packed with infectious, danceable tunes, and Nova Wav – comprised of Brittany “Chi” Coney and Denisia “Blu June” Andrews – is honored to be featured on eight of the songs. The duo, who produced and wrote for Jay-Z, Rihanna, Ariana Grande, Kehlani, DJ Khaled, HER, Jazmine Sullivan and others, met Beyoncé in 2014. In 2020, they won gold as writers of the single Beyoncé ” Black Parade,” which went on to win a Grammy for Best R&B Performance. So when they got the call to work on the “Renaissance” in the middle of the pandemic, the duo was more than ready to go on a campaign.
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“She wanted people to feel like she was escaping,” says June of Beyoncé’s vision for the album. “We’re back outside, and even though things are still uncertain right now in the world, she gave us something to dance to and something to feel good about.”
Below, Nova Wav breaks down some of the songs on “Renaissance” — including “Cuff It” and “Summer Renaissance” written after a trip to the strip club — Beyoncé says, and shares what the t-album for them as women in a field dominated by men.
Before I get into the songs, tell me how Nova Wav came about.
Chi: In 2009, someone contacted me on Facebook, a rapper, and said, “I heard your beat on MySpace, could you send me some?” … I was like, “Okay, great. He was like, ‘I’ve got a girl who’s going to do the hook,’ and when he sent it to me, I was like, ‘Oh my God, who is she?” “The voice [de Blu June] It’s really amazing, from another world. So we worked for a year, and I said, “If you move to Atlanta with me, we’re going to be very big.”
Blu June: I ended up moving to Atlanta with her in 2011. I quit my job, dropped everything, and moved in with her and her mom. 2012 was when we got our first placement, so we’ve been working ever since.
Let’s start with “Cuff It”, which you co-wrote and produced. This song features a lot of crazy writers, like Nile Rodgers and Raphael Saadiq, and Sheila E. is on drums. How was it conceived?
Blu June: We were doing some sessions in Atlanta and a few people came over to work on the album. I remember I had a creative block for two days straight, I couldn’t do anything, so we all went to the strip club. We came back from the strip club, 2 or 3 in the morning, and Chi was like, “I have a beat that I was working on,” and I didn’t hear the beat, because sometimes she’s working on. thoughts to herself. She played the beat and I was like, “Wow.” I was almost intimidated, I almost didn’t want to do it, but I was like, “Okay, just throw the beat out and I’ll see if I can come up with some ideas.” And since we literally started thinking, it was a raw idea, and we sent it to B and she went crazy about it.
Chi: And to be something that was just ours, and to give it to her and for her to take it to the next level and bring in other collaborators, it’s so cool to see the process from the bigger picture.
I love that you went to a strip club to get over the writer’s block.
Blu June: It was very important. We actually did that one, we did “Summer Revival” and we did “Energy.”
Chi: We did a couple that night after the strip club. We were very motivated.
Twitter is going wild with “Virgo’s Groove.” How did you contribute to the writing process for that song?
Chi: “Virgo’s Groove” was a vibe I haven’t heard in a long time. It was a different kind of pocket book, it literally took me back to another time. We just showed up and did what we do, put on our sauce. From the way we talk, we get credit for being slick-mouthed girls, so we walked in.
Blu June: Let’s talk about it!
Chi: I think that’s one of the main reasons why B likes to work with us, because we can make it sound younger, but we can make it sound very mature and cater to a married woman with children who are developed in his career. I love when he calls us on records like that, because we can be who we are, but also be sexual, but also be powerful at the same time.
Blu June: When we sat at his house and he played it the first time – how different it is now and the marriage of the things he’s done – it’s so amazing.
What was your first reaction when you heard the finished album?
Chi: I was like, “Yo, she’s going to own the summer.” People are going to dance. It makes me proud of her, because she’s always doing what no one else is doing and she’s so fearless, you know? With his experience, I think a lot of people get stuck and try to do what’s popular. But she always tries to do what is not popular and continues to set trends after more than 25 years in this industry. That is a very difficult thing to do. She is an icon, a legend, a queen.
Let’s talk about “Soft”, which you co-wrote. How does it feel to have your name on a song with Grace Jones?
Blu June: It’s a dream come true. It’s like Grace Jones. The fact is just the witnessing of his greatness. You can never plan for moments like this, so when it happens it’s a big surprise. You feel like a fan again, and we feel extremely humble.
Chi: On my 2021 vision board, Grace Jones is there and it says “icon” at the top. So it’s great to be able to cross things with our video programs.
“Pure/Honey” is a lot of fun and features samples from legends Kevin Aviance and Moi Renee. How was that song produced and composed, and how did you get those samples?
Chi: “Honey” was the last song we did. We tried to sit down with B and get some of his energy and mood, but he was in and out of town. But we were able to create the idea in his studio, so he gave us the energy.
Blu June: We wanted something that felt modern, but also had that retro, disco feel. I remember I got on the keyboard and played some chords…it sounded cool, I sounded funky.
Chi: He loved it. I remember talking to Aisling, maybe a week later in the studio, saying, “Who found the ‘Miss Honey’ sample? The song was ‘Honey’, it’s ‘Honey’ the sample; it’s in the same key. The timing was crazy. .
“Summer Revival” samples Donna Summer’s iconic song “I Feel Love.” What inspired you about that song?
Blu June: That’s another one we did and co-wrote. She was very inspired by Donna Summer, so we wanted to build on that inspiration. Even disco pioneer Donna Summer is a story that some people don’t know about, so we wanted to get people dancing, but also give them a bit of history and say, “Hey, look, we have roots there this.”
Chi: It was a very magical moment in the studio. We definitely research disco music. We literally sat down and googled “disco”, how did it start? It literally started with “I Feel Love” by Donna Summer, so we looked into synths and delays. It was so good we couldn’t help it, we had to sample it. But we also said, “Hey, remember how he said it was never a house song?” So we mix disco music with house music.
What is your favorite memory of the recording process?
Chi: What we liked the most was sitting with her as a person outside of music, outside of work and just seeing her as a human being, sitting together just as friends. Kick it, eat pizza; talk about how we shouldn’t eat pizza. But she is just a true love of life and she is very loyal. People think that he is an unattainable type of person, and he is just an ordinary person who wants greatness and who honestly wants to be loved by everyone.
Blu June: I remember we went to his house in 2020, like pandemic times, and I was working out and I lost 40 pounds. As soon as I walked in and he saw me, he was like, “My God, Blu, you’re screwed!” And I started to laugh and she said, “No, I’m serious, you look good” And stuck with me and gave me a lot of confidence to create the songs. I felt good about myself, I felt good about life. Moments like that, very human, that you can share with an artist as big as Beyoncé, means a lot to you. I’m sure she gets compliments all the time, but it’s too much for me to give it to someone else.
Chi: Even the first time we met her, she reached out her hand to shake our hand and said, “Hello, I’m Beyoncé,” because we didn’t know it was Beyoncé. It is so pure.
What does it mean to you to be so involved on this album in the field of songwriting and male performances?
Blu June: Honestly, it’s a dream come true, but it’s something we knew we were going to achieve. Because, first of all, we have each other. And we both know how capable we are, and just putting that together, nothing can stop us. But it was a long and hard fight, especially on the production side. Having three songs performed on the album is something that has never been done before, with two additional performance credits, for a total of five on the album.
Chi: Especially with two of the best songs right now, “Cuff It” and “Summer Renaissance”, to have our performances and our writing started from us, it’s so amazing. We have a lot of fun.
Can you expect something about the next two acts of this project?
Chi: He is coming.
Blu June: And it’s good.