When Lorde made two trips to the Grammy podium to accept awards for Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance last weekend, it took nearly everyone by surprise. A 17-year-old from the place where Peter Jackson filmed The Lord of the Rings trilogy had just beat out the likes of Macklemore, Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, and Katy Perry. But for those who closely observed New Zealand gradually build an international reputation as a hub for impeccable pop music, the recognition was a long time coming.
Now, there is another young Kiwi primed for success: BROODS. But if you ask the synth-pop sibling duo’s 19-year-old Georgia and 21-year-old Caleb Nott, they’ll quickly remind you their flame’s been burning long before Lorde wasn’t proud of her address. Beside Lorde on that Grammy stage stood producer-of-the-moment Joel Little, who the singer described to us last May as her go-to collaborator. Little is the same producer BROODS have been corresponding with since a 2011 high school music competition. Three years later, and dozens of hours locked in the studio have resulted in the duo’s lustrous debut self-titled EP, out now worldwide (buy here). It serves as the precursor to their debut full-length album expected later this year—produced by, you guessed it, Joel Little.
Although some New Zealand artists might be intimidated by Lorde’s success and the pressure it puts on them, BROODS are wholly inspired by it. “I think she’s built a bridge to the rest of the world, and we’re gonna go and cross it and capitalize on the fact that people are looking to New Zealand for new music at the moment,” Georgia explains over the phone from Universal’s Auckland offices. Find out what’s in store for BROODS in 2014 in our interview below.
So tell me about the meaning behind the name BROODS.
Well, BROODS has two definitions and both of them are quite relevant to us. We went with the name because the noun version [“brood”] means a family of baby birds, which is relevant enough because we’re siblings [laughs]. And it’s also got the whole dark, brooding essence to it that comes through in the haunting sound of our music—or the first two songs, anyway. It all kind of makes sense when you think about it.
Was it always the plan for you and your brother to record music together?
Yeah, it actually was ‘cause we’ve been playing music together for as long as we can remember. We’ve basically grown up thinking that this is what we’re meant to do and that we we’re gonna do it. It didn’t really seem like a crazy dream when we were kids, but as we got older we kind of realized the size of our ambition and just held on to it throughout everything. We never really let go of the idea of being musicians together and going somewhere with it. We’re so lucky that we’ve actually been given the opportunity to do this music project as a duo together and get to work together.
We’ve basically grown up thinking that this is what we’re meant to do and that we we’re gonna do it. It didn’t really seem like a crazy dream when we were kids, but as we got older we kind of realized the size of our ambition.
What can people expect from your debut self-titled EP?
It’s a six-track EP, so it’s not a long one. It’s basically just an introduction to BROODS and the different mix of music we love to play, so it’s quite full of contrast, which reflects the past year we’ve had. It has its ups and downs, its peaks and valleys; it covers quite a few bases as far as the feelings and different types of music. The fast and slow. So it’s pretty contrasting, which is good. There’s something for everyone.
How did you guys start working with producer Joel Little, and what’s that experience been like for you?
We’ve known Joel for three years, and we just hit it off with him as soon as we met. We developed a relationship with him before we started working on the EP, which made it so much easier going into it and working with him. He understood our style and we knew how he worked, so I think we just went in knowing exactly what to expect from him; not necessarily knowing what to expect the end product to be, but we knew working with him was gonna be fun, easy, and comfortable. I think we’ve all found a huge appreciation for how nice it is working together. And he’s just got this amazing talent where he can take a song and create something amazing out of something that’s pretty raw. He just makes it into this amazing pop song. It’s pretty incredible to see how that works.
He produced the whole EP, will he also be producing your debut full-length album?
Yep, we’re gonna do that with him too. We’re starting to write music for that now and we’ll hopefully have it done and ready to release in the second half of the year. I think the EP’s quite full of contrasts in that it has a few experimental songs. But I think because the album will be created in kind of a condensed time period compared to the EP, it’ll be easier to follow. I’m excited to see how the album turns out, because we’re always developing as musicians, our experiences are always changing, so I think it’ll be quite different. It’ll be nice to keep evolving.
You signed with Polydor and Capitol Records in December 2013. Tell me how that came about.
We basically just put “Bridges” up online and then we started to get a bit of attention for it and got contacted by these big record companies. We ended up flying over to LA and meeting the guys from Capitol, and we just really hit it off with them, signed a record deal, and it was done. It was a pretty crazy experience, very nerve-wracking, exciting and like nothing else I’ve ever done before. Probably the biggest thing I’ve ever done in my life.
[Signing a record deal was] probably the biggest thing I’ve ever done in my life.
While you were at Capitol in L.A., I saw you tweeted about recording a song on Frank Sinatra’s microphone. What song was that?
It was crazy, oh my goodness. It’s so weird, the fact that you’re like singing and breathing into the same mic that Frank Sinatra was singing and breathing into it. When you think about it too much it’s just like: WHOA! But we just did some acoustic versions of a few tracks that are on the EP. We filmed them, so hopefully they’ll come out somewhere sooner or later. That was absolutely amazing. And we got to play Nat King Cole’s piano. There’s so much history in that building, it’s crazy.
You’ll be coming back to the U.S. soon for some shows in New York City and California. What can fans expect?
Well, we’re going to be playing the full EP, so it will be cool to show everyone what the live thing is all about. We’ve just got a drummer, so it’s gonna be exciting. I can’t wait to get on stage in front of American fans. It’s gonna be a completely different experience; the shows are gonna be all different with different kinds of crowds. So it’s gonna be an experience going to the States. And Americans are just so happy and friendly, I just love it [laughs].
I was wondering if you and Caleb write the lyrics for your songs together, or what’s the process like?
It’s different. Sometimes I’ll just be sitting by myself and say, “Oh, I might try and write a song,” and I’ll write a song, start to attach the lyrics and melodies. Then I’ll take it to him and he’ll just develop it and let it evolve into more of a pop song. But then sometimes we’ll collaborate starting with the song lyrics and melodies together. We like to create different kinds of sounds. And if you write a song the exact same way, it’s kind of gonna follow the exact same structure so we like to do different types of processes, which is good.
On your SoundCloud I noticed you follow artists like BANKS, CHVRCHES, and Disclosure. Any chance of a collaboration with any of those artists?
Well, I wouldn’t be complaining if we did, for sure. I love all those people. It’d be a dream come true to work with the likes of Disclosure because they’re a sibling duo as well, so that would be quite cool. I’m pretty sure they’re actually around the same age as us so it’d be pretty cool to work with them. And I just love their music. Collaborating would be a definite dream for us.
Speaking of collaborations, I have to ask. Anything with Lorde in the works?
I don’t know, that’d be pretty cool. I’ve met her a couple times and she’s just a sweetheart, she’s so nice and so genuine. Yeah, that’d be pretty fun. I think it’d be quite natural just hanging out with her, but we’ll have to see.
Did you grow up anywhere near her?
[Laughs] Nowhere near. We grew up in a completely different city in the south island in this sunny town called Nelson. And it’s like completely different from where we live now, but it’s a very beautiful place and we had such a nice childhood down there.
How has the transition to living in Auckland been for you?
It’s been different. Auckland’s considerably bigger than Nelson, but we’re loving it now and it’s so good to have everything so close, all the music stuff. And there’s a really strong music culture in Auckland that we really love.
I think Lorde has built a bridge to the rest of the world, and we’re gonna go and cross it. We believe in ourselves a lot more knowing it’s possible.
Lorde blew up so quickly. Does that put some type of pressure on you, also being from New Zealand, to do as well as her and have a similar crossover appeal?
I think rather than pressure it gives us a belief in ourselves that it’s possible. Before Lorde started this whole crazy success thing, Kiwis kind of had too humble a mentality. They didn’t wanna seem like they were too confident and it kind of held them back a little bit. But she’s just kind of come and said, “I know exactly who I am, I know exactly what I wanna do” and she’s just done it. It kind of gives you belief in yourself like, “Oh yeah, actually, I know who I am too.” I think she’s built a bridge to the rest of the world, and we’re gonna go and cross it and capitalize on the fact that people are looking to New Zealand for new music at the moment. It’s time for NZ music to put itself out there. We believe in ourselves a lot more knowing that it’s possible.
BROODS’ debut self-titled EP is out now and available for download via iTunes. See BROODS upcoming U.S. concert dates below.
Feb. 24 – Bardot – Hollywood, CA
Feb. 27 – Rickshaw Shop – San Francisco, CA
Mar. 2 – Brooklyn Bowl – Brooklyn, NY
Mar. 3 – Mercury Lounge – New York, NY