When explaining the feelings behind her band’s sophomore album, Georgia Nott is quick to respond: “We wanted to control every aspect of it. That’s kind of the reason we called our album Conscious. We’re not asleep. We’re not clueless. We’re very conscious of what we want to achieve with this record; conscious of what we want to do and what kind of impact we want to make. At the end of the day, it’s important to have a say over every aspect of your art. I get that other people will always have an opinion, but at the end of the day we have to make sure that everything that we do, everything that we present, is completely and utterly our choice.”
Since releasing their breakthrough debut album, Evergreen, in 2014, the brother-sister duo of Georgia and Caleb Nott—better known as Broods—spent the better part of two years on the road learning the ins and outs of what it means to be a band. For an act that was thrust into the international spotlight when both members were just barely out of school, the experience of playing big stages around the world had a powerful effect on the music they would choose to make next. It makes sense that when it came time to make a new album, assuming control would be a priority.
“I think the whole process of releasing Evergreen and then touring the record was just a massive learning curve for us,” says Georgia. “Everything that we were doing, we were doing for the first time and you just have to learn as you go. There’s not really a class for writing albums and touring albums at school.” Caleb concurs. “After touring for so long, you start realizing which songs you enjoy playing the most and which songs audiences react to,” he says. “We know more about what we’re up to and that’s definitely influenced the way that we wrote the second album. I think it meant that we just gravitated toward writing songs that were bigger. This record is a punch in the face compared to the last one. Evergreen was very subtle and airy, this one really goes for the throat.”
A renewed sense of confidence is evident on Conscious—Broods’ highly anticipated sophomore album. Recorded at studios between LA and in the band’s native homeland of New Zealand, the album is an audacious step forward for the band. Produced by long-term collaborator Joel Little (Lorde, Ellie Goulding, Jarryd James), the band themselves, as well as production by Alex Hope (Troye Sivan), and Captain Cuts (Halsey, Tove Lo), the record is both bigger and bolder than anything the duo have done before. As evidenced by the record’s anthemic first single, “Free,” the newly emboldened duo have built on the restrained, textural pop of their debut and amped up the intensity. “Hallelujah, I’m free,” sings Georgia, her voice surrounded by whip-cracked beats and an arsenal of pulsing, oceanic synths. “All I want is your attention please,” she commands, “Don’t want your opinion or your fee.” The track is a powerful statement of intent and one that, for the band, feels duly earned. While Georgia has grown into a powerful vocalist and front woman, Caleb has similarly evolved as a producer. (“When we were starting, I had to explain to someone else what it was I wanted to hear,” he says; “Now I can just make those sounds myself.”) According to the duo, the new record not only showcases their continued evolution as a pop act, but also serves as a testament to how much they’ve grown as people. “I didn’t want to just be up there singing about love,” says Georgia, “I wanted to talk about other things—things that people might really be going through, the kinds of things you face when it’s not just about being a kid anymore and having fun. I wanted to make great pop songs but also feel just a little more mature.” As a result, the 13 tracks on the record adroitly discuss the pleasures and pains of young adulthood—namely, what it means to take the reigns over your own life.”
Elsewhere on the record the duo is joined by Swedish pop sensation Tove Lo on “Freak of Nature,” a gorgeously articulated and darkly personal ballad about embracing and overcoming your own personal demons. (“Love made me do crazy things, Loving life turned me insane,” sings Georgia, “But maybe it’s beautiful.”) The band also get the ultimate co-sign from fellow New Zealander Lorde, who co-wrote “Heartlines”—one of the album’s most potent pop moments. Buoyed along by a stomping beat and clapping synths, the song is the kind of single that seems tailor-made for stadium sized sing-alongs. “I don’t always play nice, but I wanna feel your heartlines,” sings Georgia, as the song explodes into a gleeful ode to jumping state lines, grabbing onto the one you love, and running towards whatever it is that makes you happy.
Broods will spend the majority of 2016 expanding and refining their live show, leading off with a run of arena shows with Ellie Goulding. The live experience will continue to be a family affair (the duo’s cousin, Jonathan Nott, will be joining them on drums), and it’s an experience that continues to both challenge and strengthen Caleb and Georgia’s sibling bond. In fact, other than fielding endless questions about what it’s like to be from New Zealand, (“We’ll leave it to Lorde to keep serving as unofficial ambassador,” jokes Caleb), it’s their relationship as a brother and sister that continues to be a constant source of fascination for both journalists and fans. It’s the relationship that also serves as the beating heart of the band.
“The fact that we used to just do this as a hobby and now this is our career,” says Georgia. “When we were kids we used to fight all the time, but now it’s different. You grow closer when you share this kind of experience because it’s just such a massive part of both of our lives. We have to make sure that we’re both still happy and loving what we’re doing. It’s a really big thing to do what you used to do just for fun as a full-time career. It’s good that we have each other during this experience, to make sure that the love for the music is always there and that we don’t get overwhelmed or let any of this stuff really change us. When someone has known you your whole life and they are your bandmate it’s easy for them to keep you in check. You need someone around who will encourage you, but also knows when to tell you to stop being crazy and get your shit together.”