Eldest of the three children conceived by the former All Blacks Bernie Fraser (to the uninitiated; famous Kiwi rugby player), the multisyllabic Brooke Gabrielle Fraser Ligertwood, better known as just Brooke Fraser, began breaking into the mainstream music scene with her famous single ‘Something in the Water’. Previously giving off the deep, good girl-next-door vibe, over the recent years her musical prowess and direction have grown exponentially, eschewing the predictable, safe acoustic singer-songwriter mould and opting for an electronic sound that is all the rage now in the pop world instead (see: Lorde, Banks, FKA twigs). As JUICE speaks to her though, it turns out her new sound was inspired by pop music that’s considerably much older.
How are you, Brooke?
I am very well, thank you. I am in the middle of getting everything readied to release my latest album Brutal Romantic.
Let’s get right into it. With the release of singles ‘Psychosocial’ and ‘Kings & Queens’, your musical direction differs greatly from What to do with Daylight, Flags, and Albertine, why the shift to more electronic-inspired music?
When I finished Flags, I had kind of knew that whatever I did next, I wanted to move into something new and try something that I’ve never tried before, as well as putting my voice against different sound mixtures. Originally I thought I would make an album that was more organic in its elements, but I suppose as the writing process went on, that kind of flipped on its head and became a more alternative organic element. I’m really thrilled with how it came out.
What were the influences that helped inspire this newfound sound?
I knew that I wanted to put my voice against quiet, cold, spiky mechanical kind of sound, so I listened to a lot of Eurythmics, Annie Lennox, and a little bit of Phil Collins, For me, they’ve made pop music that’s so creative musically and poetic, with really kind of wild and crazy expressions within these kind of traditional forms. So, I felt inspired by that.
Interesting, we thought you were more inspired by the current pop milieu of electronic pop acts. Why not we take a step back though, and talk about how you got involved in making music?
It’s kind of a hard questions to answer because I honestly don’t really know and I don’t really remember, I suppose it was my mother that got me involved in music and did a lot of musical-related things before I even had memories of doing such things. I suppose it’s something that has been an intrinsic part of who I am since I was born.
With that sort of childhood, did you grow up wanting to be a singer?
No. I think my singing stemmed from writing. That’s the thing that I love most. My voice is a tool for expressing the lyrics that I write and the sounds and textures that I kind of hear in my head as I do so. The process has evolved as the years go by.
You’re also involved with a lot of charity work, is it important as a pop act to give back to society?
I’ve always tried to use whatever platform and influence I have been given to attract or give back to people who don’t have a platform or a voice but deserve and need it. There are a few key charities that I have worked with over the years. The major ones would be World Vision and an organisation called Charity Water that I have been more involved with in more recent years. There are people doing really amazing things in the world. And as artistes, we have the opportunity to lend our weight to help support such charities. I love to do it and it’s really important to me.
Lastly, what’s after Brutal Romantic, or is everything just focused on it right now?
Yes, I’m very focused on Brutal Romantic right now. There’s a lot to do. Then, I’ll spend the next two years of my life just giving it everything and playing the songs as well as speaking about the songs in the immediate future. I really can’t wait [to promote the album], I have the best job in the world and hopefully can get to Malaysia very soon.
Brooke Fraser’s fourth album Brutal Romantic is out now via Sony.