Henry Oliver talks to Georgia and Caleb Nott, the siblings who make music together as Broods, about being dropped, getting back up again, and their new album Don’t Feed the Pop Monster.
Georgia and Caleb Nott were back in New Zealand over the summer. After a whirlwind tour supporting Taylor Swift, they slowed down, visiting their family in Nelson for Christmas, and prepared for the release of their third album, tellingly titled Don’t Feed the Pop Monster, in February.
Don’t Feed the Pop Monster sounds like a tangent for the duo – it’s brighter, weirder, and more fun than anything they’ve done before. It is, they say, the kind of album they’ve always wanted to make – free from label input and industry opinion. Y’see, Pop Monster was made after Broods had been dropped by two successive labels, one after each album. So, instead of giving up, they made a record on their own and then found a label to support it.
And they’re super excited about it. They talk quickly, with gesturing hands, cutting each other off, laughing at each other’s jokes. Most artists would be bummed about being dropped, not once but twice. But Broods seem like they couldn’t really be happier.
“It reminded us why we wanted to be musicians in the first place, why we wanted to write music,” Georgia says. “That was the only thing we had left – the music. Everything else that comes with the industry didn’t really matter anymore and that’s the Pop Monster – taking on other people’s opinions and letting other people shape you and getting too caught up in things outside the music.”
The Spinoff: How long has this album been in the works for?
Caleb: Since we finished the last one.
Georgia: There are some songs that go back to the beginning of last year.
Caleb: And some of them were written in about two weeks.
So are you just always recording and writing?
Caleb: Yeah, and then every now and then you’ll do something good. Most of it is absolute garbage.
Georgia: No it’s not!
Caleb: No one does their best work all the time, every single time.
Georgia: This one was really fun though, because…
Caleb: …we had two-and-a-half years. The first one we had five weeks.
Georgia: We got to do a lot of experimenting with different people and producers and co-writers and artists.
Caleb: It was a very free experience. We weren’t locked into any labels so we were A&Ring it ourselves and just having fun. Not having to worry about anyone else’s opinion on anything we were making so the end product was basically just what we wanted.
Georgia: Not many people get to do that these days. So I feel like we’re really lucky.
It sounds quite different…
Caleb: It doesn’t sound different to us because we’ve been working on these songs for so long that it sounds more like us than anything else we’ve done.
Georgia: It takes a while as an artist to really feel like you’ve found the way you want to be an artist and to feel like you can back yourself. Because at the start we were so young…
Caleb: At the start, you’re just like, “This is incredible that someone wants to help us make a record so let’s just…”
Georgia: “…do what they say…”
Caleb: “…give them a couple of decisions that can make or whatever because they’ve given you an advance.” Now it’s more like actually we have to play these songs all the time and we should really like them before we put them out.
So what happened?
Georgia: We got dropped!
Georgia: We got dropped after our first album by our British label and then we got dropped by Capitol after the second album. So then we were like, “Oh, what now?” It was a weird situation at the beginning. We were like, “Yes! We’re free! We can do what we want!” Then there was this stage of “Fuck, how are we going to do this without a label?” It wasn’t until we’d finished all the songs until we were running out of money and we didn’t know how we were going to put this record out.
Caleb: We only had a few hundred bucks left so I was going to have to ask mum to fly me home and then the week after we got signed to Neon Gold and got sent through our first advance.
Georgia: With this new label, it’s pretty awesome to be able to have that kind of support to just do what you want to do. There’s no “Oh, we really like what you could be if you do this…”
How did it feel to be dropped? What’s that like to go through?
Caleb: Very liberating…
Georgia: And then a little bit scary. It’s like a break-up when you’re like, “Oh shit, I’m free. Awesome!” Then you’re like, “Oh fuck, now I have to figure out how to live by myself.”
Caleb: “I’m free but I’m so alone.”
Georgia: The good thing was that we’d always been doing this together so whenever it felt like no one believed in us, we still believed in each other. It sounds really cheesy but it’s true! It was never both of us thinking it’s over. One of us feels down and the other is like “No, it’s not over”. I remember saying to Caleb, “it’s not over unless we decide it is.” So we were just going to figure out a way to put out music. There was no way we were going to give up. It would have hurt too much.
What were you looking for in your next move?
Caleb: We just made every decision according to relationships. Nothing to do with money.
Georgia: It reminded us why we wanted to be musicians in the first place, why we wanted to write music. That was the only thing we had left – the music. Everything else that comes with the industry didn’t really matter anymore and that’s the Pop Monster – taking on other people’s opinions and letting other people shape you and getting too caught up in things outside the music…
Caleb: The things that people make you feel like you have to do to get something done.
Georgia: … the social media, the branding…
Caleb: But you don’t have to do that at all. They’re just saying that because they want you to do it. Or they want some input into the project.
Georgia: We wanted to write music that we like listening to. We didn’t want to write music for the sake of getting something on the radio. It was like, “we’ve got nothing to lose! Everybody’s dropped us, let’s do whatever the fuck we want!”
So the ‘Pop Monster’ is…
Georgia: It’s not anything in particular, it’s just the culture around being something that people can be jealous of rather than something that people can be inspired by. That’s huge, especially for a woman in the industry. How you look is so important. And yeah, I care about how I look but people just want you to be this brand, visually. But that’s not the appeal. How we look is not how we get to where we’re going, we get there by how we treat people and how we express ourselves and how we connect with people.
That was something really cool about putting out music after how we changed how we presented ourselves. We’ve come back a lot more colourful and a lot more vibrant and really honest about who we are. And it feels like even though our fans don’t see us all the time or don’t see us in our day-to-day Georgia and Caleb life and they’re like, “Oh my god, it’s just so you!” It goes to show that they do want us to just be us and that’s really special because it is a bit scary when you come out with new stuff and it’s a little bit different to what people have heard before.
So how’s all that found it’s way into the album?
Georgia: We just literally didn’t say no to ideas anymore. We said, “Let’s just try it.”
Caleb: If we got excited about it, it went on. Just do it. If we liked it, we did it.
Georgia: The theme is what carries it all. There’s a very strong theme in the lyrical content and that’s what holds it all together. It’s just this story about how erratic your life can be. Especially how we’re in our early/mid-twenties and that’s this terrifying as fuck time. Everything is confusing, nothing you thought you knew you know anymore…
Caleb: You’ve all of a sudden gone from a know-it-all to sitting there going, “I know fucking nothing.” Which is a big shock! What am I doing? Everyone else is doing all this shit and what am I doing?
Georgia: Over the last three years we’ve slowly been waking up to what it is to be in the music industry…
Caleb: And that you can kind of design your own music industry.
Georgia: We don’t have to be Dua Lipa… I think the more we let go of our own expectation of what we’re supposed to be achieving and how we’re supposed to be measuring our success. It makes it a lot more freeing to just be happy with how it’s going. That’s when it starts to get stressful – when your plans aren’t going how you imagine. And they’re never going to, that’s the thing.
Caleb: Or the way that people told you they were going to go because people tell you that you’re fucking amazing all the time. Everyone’s like “This is going to smash! This is going to be a hit!” Then the whole release of your record you’re like “Fuuuuuck!” Even though it’s doing well, you feel shit because everyone sold you a bunch of bullshit.
How do you feel about the new record going into the world in the middle of all this?
Georgia: I think that people who think the same way we do will connect with it on a really deep level. We might not have a worldwide crazy fanbase but we have a deep connection with our fans and that’s the most special thing. We’d so much rather have fewer fans but that believe in everything you’re about and support you no matter what because of what you make as an artist rather than having millions and millions of people who just want to look at your Instagram. Because that’s a huge reality in the industry today. Social media’s a bitch! We fucking hate it. It’s so stressful.
Caleb: I left my phone in LA so I’ve just been off the grid. It’s amazing. I have no idea what’s going on in the world. Or what time it is. I’m just watching the sun.
You each worked on solo records – The Venus Project (Georgia) and Fizzy Milk (Caleb) – how did that change your approach?
Caleb: It changed a lot because we had to rely on ourselves separately without relying on the other one to finish a song or keep us motivated.
Georgia: It was like an independent exercise.
Caleb: I was just a great way of honing our skills without each other’s influence. Just deciding what we really liked. When we came back, just naturally the music became a lot more nostalgic, a lot more towards what our parents listened to and what we listened to in high school.
Georgia: It was quite humbling to put out our own stuff. It feels like when we do stuff together as Broods again it’s so much easier than doing it by ourselves. It was fun but I think we just work best together. It’s so much easier. Because we’re telepathic.
Caleb: A little bit. We’ve been on the same page for a long time.
Georgia: We don’t really know what’s going on so we don’t know how to explain things. It’s really hard when other people come in.
Caleb: [record producer] Joel Little is fluent so he’s fine.
Do the rest of your family feel excluded?
Georgia: It was always going to be us together because we’re the oldest in the household. But our youngest sisters are so good at music but they have their own experience so they’re navigating their own version.
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Caleb: If we didn’t get signed that first time, we’d still be doing it in another capacity. We’re just really lucky that…
Georgia: I don’t like the word lucky. I think we’re fortunate. It wasn’t about luck, it was about all the people who’ve helped us along our way. We had the best music teacher, the best encouraging parents. There was no point in our lives when we were made to feel this wasn’t possible. Now we’ve got five years of experience and we’ve learnt a lot about ourselves and the industry because nobody prepares you for that shit. And it feels like we’re at the beginning again now. It feels like we’ve found who we are all of a sudden after being so young and so easily influenced and feeling like we couldn’t really back ourselves because we were young. You just learn to say, “I know I’m young but fuck you because I’m doing it my way.”
This content was created in paid partnership with NZ on Air. Learn more about our partnerships here. Broods ‘Don’t Feed the Pop Monster’ was also made with the help of NZ on Air. We thank them.