The Broods' Georgia Nott could be coy when describing the meaning of "Mother and Father," a synth-textured processional from Evergreen, the debut disc by her introspective pop duo with older brother Caleb Nott. She could say, for instance, that the lyrics are a metaphor for something grandiose. But no, sighs the New Zealander, it's just a song about missing her folks.
"It's kind of a story of trying to figure out what we're supposed to do without them," says the 20-year-old, who recently — and with much trepidation — moved out on her own. "It's really weird not being around your parents. And just not having a full house is strange — not having laughing and yelling and crying, all of the things that happen in a family home. You don't really realize how much you're going to miss them. So I just needed to write a song about it, about grieving for your childhood."
Most of the Broods' material, says Nott, results from some form of serious brooding. Take her restrained lead vocals and her brother's empathetic accompaniment on the band's breakthrough single "Bridges." From a distance, it may sound cumulus-fluffy, but the lyrics are a dark reflection on a particularly painful breakup.
"That's why I write so many sad songs," she says. "It's a necessity. I need to write them for myself, not because I want to write sad songs all the time."
Ironically, Nott started singing in the happiest of surroundings. Her uncle, aunt and parents anchored an ABBA tribute band, and they regularly brought her to shows, parking her stage-side in a toddler car seat. Soon she was singing along so loudly that they decided to leave her home with a babysitter.
But Nott was not dissuaded. At 10, she stood up at her grandfather's birthday party to sing a wobbly rendition of Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway," and relatives all encouraged her. "So I was like, 'Oh! People like listening to me! I should probably keep going!'" she recalls. "So then performing turned into writing, and writing turned into recording, and I got more and more confident."
Initially, the duo joined forces with two cousins to form The Peasants and went on to win a local song contest. The were approached afterward by one of the judges, Joel Little, who helped Lorde find her own sound on the massive hit "Royals."
Under the producer's tutelage, they pared down to a duo and dialed up the darkness. "We'd always played music together, since way before bands, way before anything," she says. "And we'd always thought that we could do some cool stuff as a duo. So Broods just kind of grew quickly, organically, into what it is now."
As for the future, Nott hopes to someday do a spooky ABBA cover or two. But the main goal, she says, is to keep on doing what they're doing, "not for five minutes, not for one album — but for a long time, for as long as we can, until we can't hear properly anymore."