Bigger, Bolder, and ‘Conscious’: A Conversation with Broods

Broods is Georgia and Caleb Nott
Broods is Georgia and Caleb Nott

We wanted to play a big show, so we started writing big songs.

Sibling duo Broods have come a long way since the runaway success of their 2014 debut. “You grow so much in two years, especially when you’re trapped in a tour van,” jokes Caleb Nott. At only twenty-four and twenty-two years of age, Caleb and his sister Georgia have performed their music for audiences across the globe, making marks on countless sales and streams charts and topping the albums chart (twice!) in their native country of New Zealand.

You learn and grow a lot when life moves at such dazzling speeds, and everyone has a different way of expressing that change. For the Notts, the transformation shows best in their music. 2014’s Evergreen was recorded before the madness, introducing a dark, warm electronica-influenced sound whose somber and inviting qualities helped influence their band name. Cohesive and engulfing, Evergreen marked a delicately reflective moment in time.

Conscious - Broods
Conscious – Broods

On their sophomore album Conscious (released 6/24/2016 via Capitol Records), Broods are bigger and bolder than ever before. Conscious retains the introspective depth that made the band’s music relatable and meaningful to so many, while expanding the sounds and deepening the lyrical and musical presentation to deliver an album that hits as hard emotionally as it does physically.

Album opener “Free” sets the tone for the entire record, as Georgia (who sings lead for Broods) belts an introductory verse into the darkness: “I’d lose everything so I can sing Hallelujah, I’m free…” Her voice hits the ear like a lightning bolt, immediate and electrifying in its intensity.

Gritting your teeth, you hold onto me
It’s never enough, I’m never complete
Tell me to prove, expect me to lose
I push it away, I’m trying to move
Hoping for more, and wishing for less
When I didn’t care was when I did best
I’m desperate to run, I’m desperate to leave
If I lose it all, at least I’ll be free

Listen: “Free” – Broods

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“Free” is catchy in its palpable energy and melodic choruses. With Georgia’s lyrics and melodies as meticulously crafted as her brother’s underlying production work, every song off Conscious screams “Let me out!” So many of Broods’ new songs arena-ready hits waiting to circulate your eardrums time and again, and “Free” is only the beginning – the entrance to an album that solidifies Broods not as a promising indie sensation, but as a musical force to behold.

Gone are the days of “indie electronic” genre labels. Broods’ music pops, and that’s the title they’re gunning for. It’s reassuring to know, then, that Broods retain the relatable, deep and reflective characteristics: Their music still means something. Injecting meaning into big sounds is not an easy task, and it shows in the blood, sweat, and years that contributed to the creation of Conscious.

“I think [Conscious] is us coming out to show the world that we’re not this little breakout artist that fades away, you know?” concludes Caleb Nott. “This is the reassurance; the making-a-stamp record, hopefully.” Atwood Magazine spoke with Caleb the day before Broods’ sophomore album release about the journey from Evergreen to Conscious and their transformation along the way. Get to know Broods through our exclusive interview, and catch them on tour this summer and fall.

Watch: “Heartlines” – Broods



Atwood Magazine: Hey Caleb, great to meet you and thanks so much for your time.

Caleb: No worries!

So, I can really relate to Broods - I, too, am a twenty-three year old with a slightly younger sister.

Caleb: Ah, really? (laughs) 

I know all about that situation.

Caleb: It’s a pretty good one – well, for me anyway!

Yeah, you and Georgia seem like you're pretty close.

Caleb: Yeah, I think you’d have to be.

What's your relationship with your sister like? Do you two ever talk about what the band means to you?

Caleb: Not really – I think we both know. It’s a bit of a sibling telepathy kind of thing. We’re always on the same page, and if we’re not, then we quickly get back onto the same page with each other. It’s an ongoing discussion, really, that we have between ourselves… We’re always on the same page.

And you've been making music for quite a long time - long before Broods was a thing.

Caleb: We made music together as part of bands and stuff in high school. Georgia’s been writing lyrics probably since she was eight years old. I didn’t really find my love for music until I hit, probably fourteen or fifteen. We had very different musical… I don’t know how to describe it. We’re just totally different musicians, and that’s because, I dunno, I’m more interested in noises and sounds and instrumentation, and Georgia’s always been obsessed with lyrics and stuff like that. I think it’s just like, how I developed in high school. What I’d focus on at that age was playing acoustic guitar instrumentals, and that’s all I did (laughs) so that’s kind of where my side of things comes from. Georgia would just be listening to singer/songwriters the whole time. She’d spend pretty much every lunch time in the piano room, singing with her friends.

How do you fit that upbringing into what you do with Broods?

Caleb: My responsibility in Broods is forever changing. In the writing aspect, nothing goes the same way every time. We’ve always delved into each other’s territories, if you want to even put us in different territories when it comes to writing music. It’s more like, we just feed off each other, and whoever’s got the idea, or wherever the idea comes from, and whatever the idea is, we just sit there and we bounce off each other until we have a whole song. It could start with a drum beat; it could start with a lyric; it could start with a melody; it really doesn’t matter.

Broods © Renata Raksha
Broods © Renata Raksha

Your sophomore album comes out tomorrow. How does it feel?

Caleb: You know, the old “second album,” it’s quite a funny one. It’s like, you’re really nervous, but you’re super excited at the same time, because you want to show people the development that you’ve made as an artist and as a musician, but you’re also like, kind of a little bit terrified of what people are going to think! It’s kind of mixed emotions, but we’re super excited to finally get it out there after two years of writing it.

You're basically celebrating your birthday (July 1) a week early.

Caleb: Yeah, basically.

Tell me about the difference in your experience between this release, and of (Broods' debut album) Evergreen two years ago.

Caleb: We wrote Evergreen in five weeks. We wrote and recorded the whole thing in less than a month! And with Conscious, each song we slowly did over two years, so that’s probably the biggest difference. There’s a lot more variety in themes and emotions on this record. The sounds change all the time. There’s so many different influences that come into play when you’re writing a record over two years. You’re listening to different records all the time, so it’s not like when you write a record in five weeks, and your influences are very tight and very concentrated, rather than this. This record is a lot more eclectic – soundscape-wise, and lyrically, and emotionally.

What were your favorite aspects of Evergreen?

Caleb: I think I loved the cohesiveness of it at the time, you know? I was big into records that all shout out one product – not to say that Conscious isn’t one product; it’s just a little bit more deeper, and not as obvious as the first record.

How did things change for you between Conscious and Evergreen?

Caleb: On the first record, we weren’t experienced. When we came into this record, I could actually produce something on my own. Georgia knew more about what she wanted in the way of instrumentation, and we could actually make demos before we went into the studio this time around. We weren’t relying so heavily on Joel (Little), and I think that’s where the ‘bigness’ of the sound comes from. With live instrumentation… I mean, we’ve been playing so much live, that all that energy that we want to put in our live show came into this album, I think. We wanted to play a big show, so we started writing big songs naturally, without even thinking about it.

All that energy that we want to put in our live show came into this album.

Conscious feels like a pastiche of experiences. You're a different person than when you started this.

Caleb: You grow so much in two years, especially when you’re trapped in a tour van (laughs) at such a young age.

How did you, personally, aim to transform and evolve your music?

Caleb: We didn’t really think about it like that. I mean, there’s a lot of people out there that have very specific goals when they go into a studio, but we can’t really write like that. We just go into the studio, and whatever happens, happens. We can’t write for a certain thing, or for a certain purpose, or write a certain song just because we need to; whatever comes out, comes out. We work quite differently in that respect. I think a lot of people work like that, but there’s a lot of people that do go into the studio and have a specific job to do.

What's one of your favorite moments from being in the studio, and having that almost impulsive mindset?

Caleb: At the end of the writing process, we wrote “Conscious,” and it was two days before we had to deliver the album. We were just writing to see what would come out, you know? And then we wrote this song, and it was so my favorite song on the record. It was just amazing to like, kind of be able to chuck that on there, and then just submit. Once we wrote that, it kind of made the album make sense completely, you know? Like, it felt finished after we wrote that, because we were a bit worried about it before then, but… when we wrote the closer of the album, it just all kind of came together?

Why? What is it about “Conscious” that makes it so special?

Caleb: I think it’s the perfect combination of Georgia and me – my production and her emotional writing, and stuff like that. I think it’s the most true song to the combination of both of us. Mostly when you write, you know, there’s always going to be someone who has more influence on the sound, or on something from the record, but this song was just so 50/50 that we can’t really split it.

I've been listening to this album nonstop, trying to wrap my head around it. You've grown a lot, as backbone and producer for Broods in this time, and it's very obvious, I think.

Caleb: Cool, I’m glad! (laughs)

Do you feel that way, too?

Caleb: I think so, definitely.

Where did you push yourself? Were you pushing yourself?

Caleb: I pushed myself more in the way of beats and stuff. I think this record’s very true to my way of writing drum beats and the like. I don’t know, I feel like it was just ever-evolving as well, so… We can’t wait to hear what the public thinks as well.

How do you transform that, then, into the live stage? Does the way this record came together change the way Broods are going to approach live performance?

Caleb: Sure. With this new record, we need another person – another musician on stage, there are so many elements in it. We’ve got a much bigger lighting show, and it’s more of a journey – this show – because we’ve got so many songs now, that we can actually create an experience, rather than just play some songs. Hopefully, that comes across in the live show!

We’ve got so many songs now, that we can actually create an experience.

What do you look for in a song? What are some songs or producers that really inspired you in the past two years?

Caleb: I think I admire… I need to think for a little bit… I admire clarity; when you can hear every single piece in the song; when it’s all right there together, but you can actually define everything. I don’t like things that are a whole bunch of stuff, and you can’t really know what’s making that noise. If you can go through that production and start muting things slowly, and figure out what actually needs to be in there to make the song pop, you know?… I think that’s what I listen for, in tunes.

When I was younger, my dad and I were in the car listening to a Led Zeppelin song or something, and I go, oh my god, that bass line was so cool! I was in my young teens, and he goes, See? This is how I know there's something different about you, because I just hear it as a whole big mess, and you're hearing the individual instruments. But you know, there's so much more to that. Music is like math, sometimes.

Caleb: Yeah, I mean, there’s a way of doing it and a way of structuring the song that can actually create depth as well. There’s a song by a group that I really like, called Moderat. There’s a song called “The Mark” from them that’s two minutes long, and every instrument is slowly brought in every, like minute, and by the end of it you’ve just naturally, without even trying to, looked into every single thing quite secretly. The instruments are brought in so slowly and so abruptly, and your brain naturally takes it all in, in the right way.

Did you do that at all on Conscious?

Caleb: I didn’t do it to that extent, of course (laughs), but you definitely kind of think about that. It kind of just happens naturally…

I can hear that immediately on “Free,” actually.

Caleb: Yeah. There’s not that many elements to that song – the same as “Conscious” – there’s not a huge amount of tracks or anything on there; it’s just having big enough components to take up enough space on their own.

Georgia's unfiltered proclamation on “Free” is such a powerful way to start your second record.

Caleb: Yeah man, her voice has gotten so much bigger, it’s insane! Like, it’s become more of a thing – rather than just a young girl singing on songs, she’s more defined; she’s become more of a singer in her own right, like she’s got a sound to her voice now, which is cool.

What led to putting that song as the first song on the album?

Caleb: It was the first song that we wrote, that we were like, Yes! Okay, we’ve finally found out what – like, it was the first song that we got really excited about when we were writing the record. Everything else, we were kind of unsure about, or we weren’t 100%, or it just sounded like logic… But when we wrote “Free,” it was like, Okay! We’ve finally cracked it! And once you’ve cracked the first song that you think is album-worthy, then they kind of start rolling out.

Watch: “Free” – Broods


Is it that you try to make other songs that sound like that, or that it gives you energy and inspiration?

Caleb: Nah, you just think you’ve like, finally made that development that feels right. So we thought we should start the record with that as well – and that’s why it’s the first single.

I perceive it as sort of an unshackling, if you will, of who Broods was, so that you can become who you want to be, now.

Caleb: Yeah – for sure.

Where do you feel that you two shine the most on this record? Do you think it's “Free” or “Conscious,” or somewhere in between?

Caleb: I think… I can’t really put my finger on it, really. I think there’s so many different places in the album that we feel so good about, so – you know… It’s pretty hard for us to put it down there, but definitely we’re very proud of “Free,” and very proud of “Freak of Nature,” and very proud of “Conscious,” I think. That would be the big three that we’re musically and emotionally very proud of.

It's kind of funny that you mention those three songs, because they sort of bookend the record. When I listen to this album, it sounds like a journey from beginning to end.

Caleb: Yeah.

Are you the kind of person who listens to your record continuously once it's out - once it's there? Is that going to be something that you'd be excited to hear again and again?

Caleb: When you’ve been touring so much and you’re playing all those songs, it’d be nice so there’s no real need to listen to it! (laughs) You know? I mean, we’ve listened to it how many times to try to get the order of the album right, and stuff like that – so, I think we’ve listened to it a lot. I’ll definitely listen to it every now and then, but… this album’s my life for the next two years, so it’s like, every day, there’s something from it. I don’t know how many times I’ll actually need to go back to the album! (laughs)

Time to let it go, and let everyone else listen. What do you hope for other people to gain from the record? What are you most excited for?

Caleb: My goal, always, has been to kind of break down that alternative and pop world, and bring it together in one sound. It can be done, you know? I’ve heard people who are making some music at the moment that’s going to do that, and that’s my goal: To have something that sits in the alternative world, but can also cross over into the full pop world and still work. I think that’s always the main goal, production-wise. It’s not up to me if that happens, but that’s the goal.

We’re not this little breakout artist that fades away.

W Magazine recently proclaimed that this is Broods' “breakout” moment. Does this feel like your breakout moment?

Caleb: I feel like our breakout moment was the last record. I think this is us coming out to show the world that we’re not this little breakout artist that fades away, you know? This is the reassurance; the making-a-stamp record, hopefully.

This is Broods saying “we're here to stay” - that's awesome. Thank you and congratulations!

— —

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Discover more new music on Atwood’s Picks

08/01: Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
08/02: New York, NY @ Webster Hall
08/03: Boston, MA @ Royale
08/04: Montreal, QC @ L’Astral
08/06: Toronto, ON @ TIME Festival
08/07: Columbus, OH @ A&R Music Bar
08/08: Chicago, IL @ Metro
08/09: Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
08/10: Omaha, NA @ Waiting Room
08/12: Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre
08/15: Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater
08/16: Vancouver, BC @ Vogue Theatre
08/17: Seattle, WA @ Neptune
08/20: Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory
08/23: Los Angeles, CA @The Novo
08/25: Phoenix, AZ @  Crescent Ballroom
08/27: Dallas, TX @ Granada Theater
08/28: Austin, TX @ Emo’s Austin
08/29: Houston, TX @ White Oak
08/30: New Orleans, LA @ Republi
09/01: Orlando, FL @ Beacham Theatre
09/02: St. Petersburg, FL @ State Theatre
09/03: Atlanta, GA @ Center Stage

Broods' North American "Conscious" Tour 2016 poster
Broods’ North American “Conscious” Tour 2016 poster

Conscious – Broods

Conscious - Broods
Conscious – Broods
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