“Bridges,” the debut single by the brother-sister duo Broods, freezes the listener in his or her tracks from the opening second. Georgia Nott’s voice recalls a fragile version of Imogen Heap’s — floating skyward and twisting back down like a maple leaf caught in an autumn breeze — while the production oscillates between a lonely, three-key piano refrain and a kaleidoscopic alt-pop arrangement. “And we’re burning all the bridges now/’Cause it was sink or swim, and I went down/Down, down…,” Nott murmurs, before the music of her older brother, Caleb, brings her back up to the surface.
Broods hail from Auckland, New Zealand, just like Lorde. Georgia and Caleb Nott have been working closely with Joel Little, who produced all of Lorde’s debut album, “Pure Heroine,” and is currently one of the more in-demand pop producers on the planet. Last November, Lorde posted her five-song debut EP, “The Love Club,” which included a song titled “Royals,” on SoundCloud for free; a month ago, Broods tossed “Bridges” online, and the song has since earned over 200,000 listens for the unsigned pair on SoundCloud. The associations with Lorde are natural — and like “Royals,” Broods’ “Bridges” is a startling single that yearns to be heard again and again. But can 19-year-old Georgia and 21-year-old Caleb duplicate the seismic stateside success of their 17-year-old fellow New Zealander, who just spent her seventh straight week atop the U.S. Hot 100 chart with “Royals”?
“[The Lorde comparison] has come up quite a bit, but I kind of expected that — working with Joel and being a girl that’s from New Zealand, that kind of meets the criteria of a Lorde impersonator,” Georgia Nott tells Billboard with a laugh. “I think Lorde’s incredibly talented, and… it’s impossible not to be in awe of her or be influenced by her in some way, but we have to build our own identity outside of ‘Lorde and the rest of New Zealand music.'”
Georgia and Caleb Nott shifted their focuses toward the brother-sister project in early 2013, but actually met Little almost three years ago while still in high school. After the siblings performed well in a musical competition in New Zealand, Little’s manager, Ashley Page, took an interest in Georgia’s voice and introduced them to the producer. Since then, Little has helped the Notts experiment with their sound, eventually concocting a darker alternative aesthetic in between periods of work on Lorde’s debut album.
“When we first started out, we didn’t know who the hell we were as a band,” says Nott. “Even though [Joel] has been pretty busy, it’s been good to have him there as a well-informed opinion, and to help us out whenever we need him.”
Georgia says that she came up with the concept for “Bridges” while lying in bed one night, and what resulted was a “really average demo” that Little eventually polished. Since its release online, the song has been championed by sites like Noisey and Idolator, and a YouTube video posted by the tastemaker channel Mr. Suicide Sheep has earned 207,000 views in a week’s time.
Next up: a debut EP, helmed by Little and tentatively due in February. “We’ve got three other songs apart from ‘Bridges’ that are worthy of getting mastered,” says Nott. And although Broods is not attached to any label as of now, the younger Nott sibling confirms that their manager, Page, has “just started sorting all that out for us.”
Needless to say, the immediate reaction to “Bridges” has had a dizzying effect on the pair of Notts. “Caleb said something last night — we had just had a meeting with our manager, and on the way home he was like, ‘Oooh, I think I’m just going to sit on the couch and sit still for the rest of the night. I’m just so overwhelmed and so excited,'” says Georgia. “…And he made me do the dishes when I got home.”