The New Zealand electro-pop duo BROODS – siblings Caleb and Georgia Nott – have maintained a low profile since around this time last year when they joined Australia’s regional touring fest Groovin The Moo. But now they’re back with a new single, Free – the first taste of their follow-up to 2014’s ARIA Top 5 album Evergreen.
Free signals a different sound for the triple j faves – introducing an industrial edge to their synthwave. “The industrial feel was on purpose,” the older Caleb, Broods’ instrumentalist/co-producer, hollers down a speakerphone from their label’s boardroom. “That was the whole feeling of it. Basically, it was that first song that we kinda wrote and we were like, ‘Yes, this is on the right track’ – ’cause we wrote quite a few songs and we liked them, but we didn’t love them yet. And that was the first song that we just loved. We thought, That’s the first song that we want to release. That’s the song that we wanna come back with – a big slap in the face to everyone.”
Why a big slap, you ask? “I feel like it’s a big slap in the face compared to the first record,” Caleb clarifies. “We didn’t wanna come back and [literally] slap everyone in the face. That would be very rude!” Broods again hooked up with Joel Little, a super-producer since guiding Evergreen – and somebody called Lorde. “It just feels really comfortable with him,” Caleb admits.
The Notts were raised in a family of performers in Nelson on NZ’s South Island. They encountered Joel Little while active in the alt-rock band The Peasants – he’d initially work with singer Georgia. In the interim, Little partnered that Kiwi sensation Lorde – the pair eventually winning the Grammy’s’ Song Of The Year for Royals. The Auckland-based Broods themselves broke out with the melancholy single Bridges, securing global record deals. In 2014 they issued an eponymous EP in advance of their debut Evergreen. CHVRCHES were early champions. Oddly, several Broods tracks have been synced for MTV’s reality show Catfish.
Broods have applied lessons acquired from Evergreen to their sophomore record, reported to feature greater organic instrumentation. Says Georgia, “I think we’ve learnt a lot since the first album – we were very green when we put out Evergreen (laughs). But this time I think we’ve had a lot more to do with every single aspect of the album – every single cross on every ‘t’ and every single dot on every ‘i’. We’ve been very involved in every process.”
With Evergreen, Broods used nearly every number they prepped. “You get really attached to everything that you create ’cause it’s a piece of you, so it’s hard to actually let songs go,” Georgia divulges. “Unless you hate them. That’s easy!” Yet, for this album, they accumulated more material, Caleb says, allowing them to “pick and choose a wee bit”. Broods don’t have a release date. But, Caleb reassures, there will be no epic Frank Ocean-y wait-a-thon. “It’ll definitely be this year!”
Broods haven’t been totally hush. They teamed with Perth mega-star Troye Sivan for the delicate Ease, on his debut Blue Neighbourhood – Caleb touting him as “a big fan”. “He got hold of us and was like, ‘Do you wanna come over to Sydney and try write a song with me?’ We were like, ‘Yeah, of course!’ We got over there and we didn’t really know what to expect.” Broods had never before liaised with another act in the studio and Caleb – who did remix Elliphant’s Love Me Badder – describes the experience as “a little bit daunting”. But it ended up being like the title – “really easy”. Enthuses Georgia of Sivan, “He’s just a real nice guy and he’s so talented and he works his arse off – he’s definitely one of the most hardworking people we’ve met in the industry. It’s really cool when you see somebody that’s totally doing everything for the right reason.”
Broods are hoping to pursue more collabs now that they’ve followed Little by moving to Los Angeles – this interview conducted on their final day in NZ, where they’re household names. “We don’t really get the luxury of [collaborating] in Auckland – there’s just a way bigger industry [in LA], you know?,” Georgia suggests. “There’s endless opportunity.”
After Passive Me, Aggressive You, Broods’ compatriots The Naked And Famous transplanted to LA to cut their second album, In Rolling Waves – which was then slept-on. Contemporary pop culture is competitive, the pressure on emerging artists. However, Broods remain relatively chill. “We get a little bit of pressure, but I think most of the pressure comes from ourselves and from each other to do our best,” Caleb says.
Georgia concurs. “At the moment we’ve got the luxury of still having a smaller fanbase that is very supportive. We don’t really have anybody giving us any flak over social media or anything. So we’re still kind of in that whole ‘where we’re finding who we are and we’re going to figure out what we want to do, not what other people want us to do’-type scenario. I hope that we don’t ever feel like we have to do anything that isn’t true to us, because it can really affect you as an artist if you’re not being truthful and honest. It totally sucks the fun out of it – and your soul is not in it. I think that’ll be one of the biggest things that we try and keep consistent with everything that we ever put out.”
Broods opened for Ellie Goulding’s Australasian dates in 2014, ahead of their inaugural Splendour In The Grass. This week they’re accompanying the Brit on the first leg of a North American run. “It was awesome to be playing those kinda shows and to be watching her level of showmanship,” Caleb commends. “She’s a really hard worker – and lovely person.”