After achieving his teenage dreams of playing Ozzfest and making a Dogtown skate deck, Los Angeles-born artist Josh Landau had a creative reckoning — and out of this Saturn return of sorts came his latest project: Stolen Nova.
Under this new moniker, Landau has launched a series of sexy, synth- and guitar-heavy singles that blend ‘70s and ‘80s sounds with a modern groove. His style, both aesthetically and sonically, balances being sharp, thoughtful and cinematic with a casual punk attitude, which comes as no surprise given Landau is as talented on a skateboard as he is on the guitar. In anticipation of his upcoming tour opening for LA’s glam-infused rock group Cobra Man, Landau is launching his latest video, made with his partner Nadia Lee Cohen — and it certainly takes any film references we might have found in his former work to new heights. Drawing on the iconic Blue Velvet, Cohen and Landau have reimagined the film’s narrative and characters as they relate to Stolen Nova’s new single “Glue” — and today, we are entering the weird and wonderful world of “Glue Velvet” with them.
We know you’re a skater from California, and you were the frontman of The Shrine. But what’s the Stolen Nova origin story?
I grew up in Mar Vista, which is next to Santa Monica and Venice, going to house parties, punk shows at skate shops and hardcore shows in East LA warehouses. After high school, I went on to be a part of The Shrine, which was full-on Thrasher skate-rock ‘70s shit, and we went around the world and played a lot of unique spots: a skatepark at the beach in Rio De Janiero where the kids had broken open a street lamp and plugged the amps into it, another skatepark on the 6th floor of an abandoned warehouse in Saint Petersburg, Russia. We did it really DIY on an underground scale, but it was epic.
My teenage dreams really came true — we played Ozzfest, did a skateboard with Jim Muir and Dogtown, we played a Black Flag set with Keith Morris at a Shepard Fairey art show, and we got to rehearse Black Flag songs with Keith in my parents’ garage where I had first learned to play guitar along to those tracks. I was 24 years old playing on a cruise ship to the Bahamas with Motorhead and Slayer. I'm so proud of it, but at a certain point, it was time for something else. It sounds like some dumb cliché or maybe very LA but I hit my Saturn return and felt this crazy switch that needed to happen in my life. I chopped my long hair off and went to London and spent the summer couch-surfing around, seeing what else there could be, listening to tons of Prince. I ended up meeting my girlfriend on that trip, too.
When I came home after the pandemic, I felt like it was time to launch something new. It's been a year and a half now, and Stolen Nova is just about to head out on the first tour opening for Cobra Man, and I couldn't be more stoked. I had some crazy moments of self-doubt between the projects, not knowing my direction, not knowing if I would or could do anything again, but also somewhere in the back of my head and heart knowing of course I would, I had to just ride the wave and find the right timing. I had to look for the open window to jump out of.
Do you feel like Stolen Nova is a character or a true form of Josh Landau?
Stolen Nova is who I am when I don't wanna take out the trash or pay taxes.
How do you feel like this track, and especially this music video, continues the narrative you’ve built thus far with Stolen Nova — and how is it opening a new door for you as an artist?
"Glue" is a break away from the first three singles, which were really guitar riff-based. And all along, it was the song that [my partner] Nadia loved and said, “That’s the one I'll help you do a video for.”
Why Blue Velvet? What drew you to that as a reference? How does it echo the Stolen Nova energy?
Well, while [Nadia and I] were watching Blue Velvet, I said to her, “No one’s seriously done this yet for a music video?” The moment where Dean Stockwell sings “Candy Colored Clown,” it's so fucking bizarre and beautiful and weird. I was obsessed with trying to recreate it — and we did it! It's one of the most beautiful, twisted films ever. Also, Dennis Hopper's connection to Venice always hits home to me. When I saw Dean Stockwell gyrating his hips and singing in such a creepy way for the first time, I was transfixed.
What was the process of making this video?
Nadia and I really carefully chopped up the scenes from the movie and went about it with a magnifying glass, to copy as close as we could. My homie Sean Costello brought the set to life in about 24 hours on a shoestring with some help from my bud Misha Lindes, and we were all just stunned at how well they did. It was the most ambitious video I've ever done and pretty stretched as far as favors and budget, and I thank all my friends for kicking in to help. Chris Blauelt, our cinematographer, is my surf buddy and favorite dude, and he pulled his whole camera team together to shoot it on 16mm film. And how could I forget Steve fucking Olson. The first skate punk — who I met when I was 15, skating in a backyard pool at an abandoned mansion in Beverly Hills. He's like James Dean on a skateboard, and who else could do Frank Booth for us in this?
Do you have any rituals in the studio or when you’re writing songs?
My ritual is I don't finish them until someone puts a gun to my head! [Laughs]
What and when can we expect from Stolen Nova in the near future?
The full US tour with Cobra Man kicks off next week! Fourteen shows across America. Look for an EP in the summer, also!
Photo courtesy of Stolen Nova