“I’m a freak of nature,” laughs Georgia Nott. One half of Australian indie-pop outfit, Broods, Nott’s songwriting is anthropological. As for her case study, well… that would be herself, though “freak of nature” is not the first description that pops into one’s head when meeting the 22-year-old musician. Nott exudes the air of a demure philosopher—self-aware and contemplative, pausing to think before walking the listener through her thoughts. The introspective backroad she takes in conversation lends itself to her songwriting, a creative process she considers therapeutic. “Not only does it give you more of a rounded perspective, but it also makes you feel like you can let go for a little bit,” she says of her craft. “It takes some of the weight of thinking about [a problem] off of your shoulders because when you create something very constructive out of something that could be potentially destructive, it kind of makes you feel like, it wasn’t pointless going through [that experience].
For the band’s most recent single, “Heartlines,” Nott switched focus onto brother and musical partner Caleb—the other side of Broods. “‘Heartlines’ is the first song that’s about my personal experiences because most of the time it’s Georgia writing the lyrics,” he shares. “It’s the only one that’s from solely my perspective.” A collaboration with fellow Aukland native, Lorde (with whom Broods shares producer Joel Little), the three spent a day in the studio writing “Heartlines,” with Caleb’s life informing the song’s narrative.
Like the rest of the duo’s sophomore album, Conscious—released this summer—“Heartlines” steps forward with an instantly addictive rhythm, while breathlessly sympathetic lyrics linger. Where Evergreen—the band’s 2014 debut—was characterized by a downbeat ethereal quality, Conscious is a whip of emotion that pulsates up your spine with stirring songs, epitomized by the album’s debut single “Free.” (The track’s music video directed by Australian director Jessie Hill is a must-see.)
Before kicking off their Conscious tour this month, Broods stopped by Toronto where we caught up with the pair to talk about the evolution of their sound, their creative telepathy (finishing each others sentences is just the tip of the iceberg) and how music came to each in very different ways.
Your new album Conscious is quite a bit different than your debut album? Did you set out to change your sound or was it a natural evolution?
CALEB: It just kind of happened over time. It was a very natural evolution I think.
GEORGIA: But it definitely took us a while to find it. We wrote a lot of material that was discarded, but when we finally found our stride, that’s when we wrote “Free” and we started to figure out…
CALEB: … Where we wanted to take it.
How does where you wanted to take the album—its mood—relate back to the headspace you were in when making the album?
GEORGIA: I guess there’s so many different things in the album, but the whole vibe is energetic, to put it into one word. Even if it’s a sad song, angry song or worried song, they’re all very energetic, compared to the last album. There are token down beat ones, but overall, it’s a lot more… pumping. [Laughing.]
Is there one song off Conscious that is particular close to you? A favourite for sentimental reasons?
GEORGIA: I find everything very sentimental so… [laughing], but I guess for me the songs that are very honest representation of myself are “Freak of Nature.” I’m a freak of nature, so… [Laughing.]
CALEB: I think it’s too different questions for me. I think my favourite is “Conscious” and then there is only one that is very sentimental to me and that’s “Heartlines.”
About that track, how did the collaboration with Lorde on it come about?
CALEB: It just kind of happened. We were in the same city and jumped into the same studio together.
GEORGIA: Yeah, we both have the same producer, so we were both in the studio with him on-and-off for a couple of weeks…
CALEB: … And then we just did one day together.
What’s the creative process like for you two?
GEORGIA: I guess for us, we usually just sit in a room and play around with stuff. We usually have lyrics that have been hidden in my phone for days, weeks, months… whatever… and we’ll kind of incorporate that with past ideas. We’ll just play around till we’re happy.
On stage, do you have a bit of an unspoken language, not just because your siblings, but because you’ve been working as a duo and collaborating for some time now?
GEORGIA: I think it’s an unspoken language everywhere. [Laughing.] I think we just know each other so well, there’s a lot of things we don’t have to say out loud. It saves so much time… and when we do have to talk, we just have to say the first two words and we already know what’s trying to be said. [Laughing.]
CALEB: It’s very confusing for everyone else around. Joel’s had three years to get used to it, though.
GEORGIA: He’s been our long-time producer, so he’s a part of the telepathy, now.
It’s been two year’s since your first single “Bridges” hit the top of the charts in New Zealand and catapulted you into fame; has all the success sunk in, yet?
GEORGIA: I think, as soon as one thing sinks in, another thing becomes amazing. It’s kind of a good way to be. I think as soon as you expect something to happen, then you…
CALEB: … Only hold on to that one thing.
GEORGIA: Yeah, and then you can’t live in the now and really appreciate everything you’ve gone through… because everything that happens is so random. We don’t really set out to achieve specific things, we kind of just make music, put it out… see what happens. [Laughing.]
Were you nervous at all working on your second album, just given the popularity of your first?
CALEB: I mean… there’s always the pressure of expectation from other people—fans and the people we work with—and plus you don’t always want to be known for that first record…
GEORGIA: We want to always be improving. That’s why we wanted to take more of an energetic route for this album because we wanted to have something that would really show what we were capable of as musicians.
CALEB: And in the live [setting], we want to show what we can do.
Do you prefer live over the studio—do you find the songs come to life on stage?
CALEB: The studio is always awesome. Live can be bitter… every now and then.
GEORGIA: But, there’s a cool vibe and a connection there [on stage], that you don’t get when you put out a [studio] record. Being in the studio is a completely different thing…
CALEB: It’s a holiday.The studio never feels like work.
GEORGIA: Never. It’s a writing holiday.
Do you tend to imrpov on stage?
CALEB: Sometimes you’re forced to. [Laughing.]
GEORGIA: [Because of] technology deciding to be really annoying. [Laughing.] I think it’s good though, I definitely don’t want to be a robot that does the same thing every single time—that would kind of kill it for us. Also, different shows and different crowds respond to different things.
CALEB: … Different countries, different cities….
GEORGIA: Yeah, you just have to go with what you feel and that’s the cool thing about being yourself… people can’t tell you that you’re wrong. [Laughing.]
You’re just feeding off what you’re getting.
GEORGIA: Yes, totally. As soon as you start following a script, you lose the personal touch. The music that we write is personal… and I don’t want to lose that in a live setting.
I find your music videos feel personal. Are you a part of the creative process when making those?
CALEB: We definitely have a lot of say, but we like the original idea will come from someone else because it’s always interesting thing to see how someone else interprets your music.
GEORGIA: Especially with a narrative.
CALEB: It’s usually nothing to do with what we were thinking about, but it’s really interesting to hear someone’s perspective on how it made them feel.
GEORGIA: And you can see it in a completely different art form, which is pretty awesome.
I understand you come from a musical family, did you know from an early age then, that it was always going to be a career in music for you? Or, did you resist it?
CALEB: I think I did, I resisted it when I was younger. I hated getting lessons. I didn’t really like anything that was trying to teach me something. [Laughing.] I ended up teaching myself mostly in high school and that’s when I found the love of it, when I did it on my own time. I still went and studied something else in university—there were other things that I really loved as well—but when you get this opportunity, you don’t really [turn] it down.
GEORGIA: For me, I’ve always lived and breathed music. I’ve had other interest along the way, but [music] has always been… instead of a hobby, it was a necessity to keep me sane [laughing], so I’ve always been writing to help myself process life. It always makes it a little more clear when you get it into a song—it becomes less heavy. And then doing [this], is what got me into a career. It’s nice to know that I put all my energy into the right thing! [Laughing.]