Sweat, Broods and tears

MICHELLE DUFF
Last updated 05:00 24/08/2014
SEAN WILLIS/Sunday Star Times

Returning home to perform their first headline show, Stuff.co.nz caught up with siblings Caleb and Georgia Nott, the musical duo behind Broods.

Broods
NELSON'S GOT TALENT: Georgia and Caleb Nott have gained international recognition.

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At the top of Capitol Records Tower in Los Angeles, in a room full of suits, Georgia Nott suddenly found she couldn't breathe.

The 20-year-old had been whipped to the States with older brother Caleb, 22, on the strength of a song the duo put on music-sharing website Soundcloud. More than half a million hits and a series of glowing reviews on international music blogs later, and they were surrounded by industry bigwigs.

"We were on the top floor of Capitol in this big-as boardroom and we shook hands with everybody, and then they were like, ‘Can you play us a song?' and we were like, [sucks in air] yeeaah . . ." Georgia says.

"I was like ‘This will be fine, I sing all the time,' and then all of a sudden I opened my mouth and I was like ‘I can't breathe!' It was so scary."

Caleb, too, was trying to keep his cool. "I was all, ‘Oh yeah, sweet, sweet,' and then sat down and started playing and looked up and there were just 20 faces staring at me," he says. "We didn't do too bad of a job I guess, they didn't tell us to get out."

That's one extreme understatement. By the end of their fleeting visit the siblings had signed a record deal with Capitol in the US and Polydor in Europe.

That was in December. Two months later Broods had released their six-track EP, Broods, and were soon touring America and the UK - supporting indie acts like Haim - while being touted as the next big thing by Entertainment Weekly and Billboard. All this before headlining a single venue in their home country.

A nationwide tour of their debut album Evergreen, released on Friday, is a strange sort of homecoming.

Theirs is a trajectory that is becoming a familiar narrative. Georgia was introduced to Grammy-winning producer Joel Little after he judged a Smokefree Rockquest she won with seven-piece band The Peasants in 2011. When the band split a year later, Georgia kept in touch with him.

Today, wearing matching Stolen Girlfriends Club T-shirts on a couch at Universal Music in Auckland (apparently this is an accident that happens often, along with finishing each other's sentences) the duo say continuing to work with Little was natural.

"Whenever we had time between study and work we'd just go and have a play around in the studio," Georgia says.

"He just made a really good environment to create stuff - you know sometimes when you're baring your soul to somebody you've never met, you don't do that, but he's a real good guy. You don't feel like you're in a studio with a worldwide, intimidating producer."

The ethereal tune Bridges with its downbeat lyrics quickly caught the attention of fans and music critics when it was released on Soundcloud in October.

"It just kind of started snowballing from there . . ." Caleb says, before Georgia jumps in: ". . . and everything started happening really fast, really fast."

Their quick rise could be partially put down to their collaboration with Little, who steered Lorde to success. The pair acknowledge her role in paving the way for local musicians.

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"She's been a huge part of bringing out NZ music and bringing the spotlight on to it, we admire her. We don't feel like we're in competition with her at all, she's super lovely," Georgia says.

But separate to the Lorde effect, their soulful synth pop has simply struck a chord - and it's clear the pair have music in their genes.

They first found success singing together, aged 8 and 10, with Amy Grant's Big Yellow Taxi, at a talent competition at St Pauls School in Nelson. They moved on to KT Tunstall's Black Horse and the Cherry Tree to take out Has Nelson Got Talent? in 2010, aged 15 and 17.

Making music together has always come easily, along with the ability to tell each other when to shut up. Having someone around to share the hype also helps, they say. "It's good to have a sibling to slap you when you're being silly," says Georgia.

Georgia reached the finals of America's International Songwriting Competition last year and says the pair's creative process varies - sometimes it starts with a beat, sometimes a chord or sometimes a stray thought.

"We write about our own experiences to help us through [them], and when you can help someone else through something that's similar, it just puts so much more value on what you're doing. The way you make other people feel is the most important thing on this earth, and the way that you look after the world, which is looking after other people."

She looks over at Caleb.

"God you're so deep," he jokes.

"Sorry, I have feelings," she bats back. "So many feelings in my mind, in my soul."

They're unsure what to expect of their new fame. In the short term, it will hang on the reaction to their album.

"We only had three songs at this time last year, so who knows. We didn't have a name last year. So everyone asks like ‘What are your goals' and we're like ‘We don't know, we don't have any, all right?"' Caleb says.

Georgia agrees. "It's hard to have goals when you don't know what you're capable of, everything we do and achieve surprises us so much that it's hard to know, because this is so unrealistic what's happened."

Broods' debut album Evergreen is out now.

- Sunday Star Times

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