BROODS On Embracing Sunny New Vibe With 'Peach': 'We Had No One Telling Us What to Do'
When Georgia Nott, one-half of dark pop sibling duo BROODS, arrives at Billboard's New York offices one recent morning, she's almost unrecognizable in cartoonish pineapple earrings, a white tee bearing the word "Peachy," shiny orange eyeshadow and pink-dyed hair. So is her brother and collaborator Caleb, who dons a grassy green varsity jacket, his normally brunette locks transformed into a bleached buzzcut. "Usually we’d come into this meeting wearing plain, monotone clothes, really serious," says Caleb, laughing. His sister jumps in: "But we decided that we're actually quite colorful people."
Their style isn't the only thing that's changed. In the two years since releasing their sophomore LP Conscious -- which put them on the map for punchy, deliciously dramatic electro-pop vibes on songs like "Heartlines" and "Free" -- the Notts have moved from their native New Zealand to sunny Los Angeles, parted ways with Capitol Records (signing recently to Neon Gold/Atlantic) and put out solo projects, Georgia with her feminism-focused The Venus Project album, while Caleb tested new moniker Fizzy Milk with the single "Make Me Feel." All of these shifts contributed to a vibrant, sun-splashed new sound the duo explore on their just-announced upcoming third record, out in early 2019.
It starts with "Peach," the album's first single, which dropped Wednesday (Aug. 8). The song's glittery production and bubbly catchphrase "everything's lookin' peach now" came to the siblings while writing with Tommy English (BØRNS, Kacey Musgraves) in Nashville last November, where the then-independent duo decided to "say yes to everything in the studio," as Caleb puts it. ("We had no one telling us what to do.") Georgia says the fruit symbolizes the warm-and-fuzzy feeling of releasing anxiety, which is "soft and it’s sweet, but not sour or too intense." "Peaches" is also her longtime nickname among friends and family, though she notes the fruit has become serendipitously trendy since, appearing in everything from Coca-Cola flavors to the branding for Kim Kardashian's latest fragrance line.
Much of the yet-to-be-titled record treads similarly warm, lighthearted territory, which the duo credit largely to their move west. "Living in L.A. has made us embrace that colorful aspect of ourselves in music," says Georgia. "Everyone's chill, it's sunny all the time, we've all got great tans." But she and Caleb say they aren't concerned with cohesiveness on the record. In fact, they were inspired specifically by albums with robust variety, like Gnarls Barkley's 2006 St. Elsewhere and anything Gorillaz -- "none of their songs are ever the same," Caleb says. "This was our chance to do that."
The approach also means that bright, happy tracks like "Peach" are placed next to more serious companions, most notably "Too Proud," a gritty, thumping confession about holding in emotions that marks Caleb's singing debut within BROODS. The duo wrote the still-unreleased song after Caleb began attending therapy -- something that's particularly taboo in their hometown -- for the first time following a few months in a state of mind he calls a "down space." "The man is meant to be very tough," Caleb says of growing up in New Zealand. "No one wants to go to therapy because they think it’s weak, but really you come out of it so much stronger. That initial step, just going to therapy once, lifts off."
Of course, not everything has changed for BROODS. Caleb and Georgia still have a habit of finishing each others' sentences, the same nearly "telepathic" writing process and desire to challenge the "gobbledygook" of formulaic pop music, as Caleb puts it. Really, Georgia says, they have stronger senses of self now than ever. "Our alter egos are basically better versions of ourselves now, not different versions of ourselves."
Pointing to her heart, she adds, "Every song [on the album] makes us feel proud and warm, and fills up this area right here."