New Zealand pop duo BROODS, made up of siblings Georgia and Caleb Nott, have a brand new honest, danceable album called ‘Don’t Feed The Pop Monster’ out on Friday, Feb 1 via Neon Gold Records. The album is laced with their signature dark-pop synth sounds while at the same time sounding like nothing they’ve released before. Coming three years after their sophomore album ‘Conscious,’ ‘Don’t Feed The Pop Monster’ is full of powerful, confident songwriting about topics ranging form mental health to trying to navigate through some of life’s most uncertain moments.
‘Don’t Feed The Pop Monster’ dives into all of the ups and downs that the duo has faced over the last couple of years and the result is a reflective body of work that goes far beneath the surface. They’ve thrown the pop rule book out the window, blended genres and allowed themselves to explore the full spectrum of their creativity. Georgia spoke on the phone with B-Sides about signing to Neon Gold, the creative direction for the new album and what fans can expect from tour.
Tell me about your decision to sign to Neon Gold.
I guess it started by being dropped by the other label (laughs). We wrote pretty much the whole album while we were independent and then spent a lot of time wondering how on Earth we were going to be able to release an album without a label and no money. The Neon Gold guys have been our friends for quite a while so it made sense to show them and talk to them and they really believed in what we made and wanted to release it with us. So we were like “done.” And they were completely supportive with every creative decision we wanted to make and were very much on the same page as us when it came to what we wanted to achieve with this album. It’s been kind of this weird situation where everything was so up in the air for so long and then it all fell into place really nicely. It’s the ideal situation to be honest and it’s been amazing being with Neon Gold.
With all that said, when did the writing process for ‘Don’t Feed The Pop Monster’ actually begin?
We’re always writing, so I can’t pinpoint the beginning of writing this one. Just straight out of the last one pretty much. I think the first song we wrote for the album was written just about 2 years ago.
What was the selection process like for which songs you put on the album?
It’s strange because I feel like when you’re writing an album, you don’t really know where it’s going or what you’re doing until you write that one song that makes it all come together. When we wrote “Peach,” that’s when we decided that we were on the right track. Anything that we were writing from then on was just like “Okay, what we’re writing now makes sense” and then you go back and work on production of old songs and then it all starts coming together. With “Peach” we realized what the album was going to be in a way. I guess it was all feeling around in the dark though.
How would you describe the overall theme or mood of the album and how does it describe the next chapter in your music?
There’s a definite theme but not a definite genre (laughs). I don’t know if that’s the way it’s supposed to go, but that’s the way we do it. I think with all the shit that we have been through in the last few years like moving to LA, switching labels… I think it’s really forced us to grow quite fast and we have had to adapt quite quickly to our environment and the situations that we’ve found ourselves in. In your early 20s I feel like you’re already going through so much turmoil trying to figure out what life’s about, how to find your purpose in the world and how to function as a human being in the world. All those things that you go through when you’re learning to be an adult, that’s what the album is about. We did always write on quite a deep level on this record. There’s not actually any songs that are about any surface emotions. There’s not any love songs, not any songs about going out, it’s all like “Who am I? What am I doing? How do you function as a human being? Why do I feel sad? Why do I feel happy?” That’s kind of like the theme.
Why did you feel like it was important to speak about mental health on “Too Proud” and how did you decide that Caleb would take the lead on vocals?
It just kind of happened when we were writing the song. We wrote it with Joel Little who has been our producer for the last 5 years, he’s like our brother. Speaking for Caleb, he had just come out of a huge period of being depressed and being in a really low lull. When we started writing it, he started singing the chorus and we were like, “Hey, maybe you should sing this song.” and so he did. I remember when he was doing the vocals for the chorus, recording his part and I was just sitting behind him crying. When Caleb cries, I cry, I can’t help it. I think it’s always been a really, really important thing to us to be open about mental health. That’s what we write music for, it gets us through those moments where it feels really isolating and quite hopeless. Music has been our coping mechanism and I think it is for a lot of people when it comes to those times when things feel very confusing or you can’t articulate how you feel because you’ve never been prepared to feel those things. I think when you hear somebody say something that you relate to, it all of a sudden feels so much, like, “we’re going to get through it.” I feel like everybody goes through mental health struggles at some point or another and it’s something that needs to be very openly talked about. For us, it’s always been a huge thing we wanted to do in our career, to just keep the conversation going and to find ways to communicate with our fans on that level about those kinds of things. It’s a chain reaction, if you start talking about what you’re going through then other people realize that it’s not weird, it’s just a normal part of life.
I am absolutely in love with the album artwork. How did that vision come to life?
We worked with this artist Dana Trippe. We just really liked her style and how she brought nostalgia into a sci-fi world. We talked on the phone and she was like, “yeah, I think maybe I’ll just make this mouth and you guys can be kind of in it a little bit, like ‘Don’t Feed The Pop Monster.’” We were like okay dope, what are we gonna be walking into when we go to set? And there was this amazing paper mache mouth that she just made with this crazy tongue coming out that she’d sewn together and I was like, this woman is the queen of arts and crafts. She put down a bunch of sand and we just let her run with what she heard in the name ‘Don’t Feed The Pop Monster.’ That’s the beautiful thing about collaboration, you choose to work with people who you’re huge fans of and we got to do that a lot on this record. We got to work with a lot of people that we’re personally fans of, whether it was on the music videos or styling and stuff like that. It’s been the most collaborative we’ve ever been which is exciting. The album artwork definitely turned out exactly the way that we didn’t know we needed.
I know you’re heading out on tour at the end of March as well — what’s your vision for those shows?
I think we’re more of a band now than a guy behind synths and a girl running around on stage singing (laughs). This whole record has a lot more live instruments and it feels like more of a band album. It’s gonna be fun for me to play instruments again, I haven’t done that in a while so I’m kind of terrified but Caleb has to sing lead on a song so he’s more terrified (laughs). We always write with our live show in mind, but the more we tour and write, the more we find ourselves imagining a song live from the very beginning and that’s what we did with this record. I know it’s gonna be our favorite show to play ever.
DON’T FEED THE POP MONSTER SPRING 2019 TOUR NORTH AMERICAN DATES:
03.26 Santa Ana, CA The Observatory
03.27 Los Angeles, CA The Fonda
03.29 San Diego, CA The Observatory North Park
03.30 San Francisco, CA August Hall
04.01 Seattle, WA Neptune Theatre
04.02 Vancouver, BC Vogue Theatre
04.03 Portland, OR Wonder Ballroom
04.05 Salt Lake City, UT In The Venue
04.06 Denver, CO Summit
04.07 Kansas City, MO The Truman
04.08 St Paul, MN Amsterdam Hall
04.10 Chicago, IL Metro
04.12 Toronto, ON The Phoenix
04.13 Montreal, QC Fairmount
04.14 Boston, MA Paradise
04.16 Philadelphia, PA Union Transfer
04.18 New York, NY Irving Plaza
04.19 Asbury Park, NJ Asbury Lanes
04.20 Washington, DC The Fillmore Silver Spring