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Get To Know: NIMMO

Photo of Sarah Nimmo and Reva Gauntlett lying side by side on a rusty red carpet. An orange/yellow light effect covers the right side of the imge

Get acquainted with NIMMO, the London duo channelling ‘80s and ‘90s queer pop into anthemic dance music

We love NIMMO — their angelic harmonies and earworm pop refrains have been ringing in our ears since first listen, calling to mind icons of yesteryear. Take 2022’s ‘Company’, which pairs a muscular bassline with a devastating drop reminiscent of Erasure, or album track ‘Place To Rent’, which employs the kind of plaintive piano riff that could have been written by The Communards. This duo have tapped into an ’80s and ’90s queer consciousness, marrying anthemic dance music with a kind of androgyny previously unseen in the pop world.

We date the NIMMO discography as far back as 2014, but when DJ Mag calls the duo up in June, we learn that it’s only post-pandemic that the pair feel they’ve found their fullest sound. “It’s been 10 years in the making, but this feels like the beginning, to be honest,” Reva Gauntlett tells us. “We started out of school and never stopped the journey — but I would say that it’s only in the last two years that NIMMO has become what it is now, and taken a more solid form.”

London born and bred, Sarah Nimmo and Reva Gauntlett’s musical friendship dates back to their teens, much of it spent spitting bars back and forth and playing open mic nights in various indie band constellations. The pair also dipped into established and emerging UK bass sounds, following the works of DJ Hype, Bukem and Omni Trio, and UKG heads like Heartless Crew, DJ Luck & MC Neat and Wookie. But it was the lyricism of grime artists like Dizzee Rascal and early Kano, as well as bands like The Smiths, Nirvana and The Strokes that kept the duo hooked on music.

“We always followed the lyrics,” Nimmo explains. “We’re excited by the idea of creating something that leaves a mark — that’s why we write songs that we want to listen to in 10 years and be proud of.”

NIMMO were signed to Sony straight out of uni, who made a deal with the band on the strength of one track. It was a reassuring early stamp of approval, but too soon for a group still trying to find their feet — and not quite sold on the idea of replicating what had come before. In 2019, the five-piece synthpop outfit was slimmed down to two, revealing a bolder, more honest sound. They released their debut album ‘The Power’ that same year.

The duo have an impressive catalogue and have been remixed by the likes of Maya Jane Coles, Paul Woolford, Catz ’n Dogz and CamelPhat, and even dropped a track with DJ Mag cover star TSHA. But what they’re really after is longevity, a discography that stands the test of time in mainstream consciousness. “It’s definitely more our time than it’s ever been before, in terms of space for our kind of queerness in pop,” Nimmo says near the end of our conversation. “I don’t know how big that space is, but I feel like now is definitely a time for us to step into it.”

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Ria Hylton is DJ Mag’s album reviews editor. Follow them on Twitter @ria_hylton