Sweden, Poached Eggs, and Sticking To Your Guns: My Interview With Brooke Fraser

Brooke Fraser - diner 2014

By: Harrison Giza (@BlueHarvestBeat)

We all have different perspectives on how the musical world around us works. Everyone has an individual opinion – what’s good and what’s bad, what’s great and what’s shit. Modern times, as well as an increasing generational need for social media, have forced artists to ship out music to the masses at the fastest rate in recorded history. Nowadays, Drake can release a hit at 5 AM in Toronto and change the rap game in a global Canadian minute. The quicker your music takes to make, the more your name stays on the dartboard of “what’s in right now.”

Brooke Fraser does not care about what’s in right now. The New Zealand songwriter is about making music for her fans that listen to it, as well as the few people lucky enough to tune in. Throughout her career, she has released genre-bending pop albums like Flags and Brutal Romantic, focusing on the quality of her music instead of getting it out as fast as possible. If she doesn’t think a song is finished, she waits as long as needed until she’s comfortable sharing it with fans (sometimes even waiting years).

In New Zealand, she is one of the top selling recording artists of all time, with her albums reaching platinum fifteen times over. Yet, she’s moving onto even bigger things. Just last March, her and husband Scott Ligertwood announced she was pregnant with their first child.

I sent some questions and she answered them. Pretty nice, huh?

HG: What is better: cuddling or reading Oscar Wilde?

BF: Cuddling while reading Oscar Wilde. Or if my brain needs a rest, cuddling while watching dinosaur movies.

HG: When you write a song, how many times do you go over the lyrics? How do you know when a song is completely finished?

BF: I go over lyrics approximately a million times. And even then, sometimes I never know when a song is finished! I just have to decide. I have songs I’ve been working on for five years but I know they can still be better, so I’m not prepared to surrender yet.

HG: Why did you get into music? What keeps you creating?

BF: I don’t know. For most musicians I know, including myself, it’s never something that was a conscious choice. It was just always the way we were. I can’t unchoose it because it’s not something I ever chose in the first place.

HG: Describe your perfect breakfast.

BF: Perfectly ripe avocado with chilli flakes and lemon juice on gluten-free toast with a runny poached egg and plenty of sea salt and cracked pepper. NOMZ.
And a cup of tea – English breakfast with skim milk. And a grapefruit juice. And cold water. I’m into having multiple beverages at once. All about that custom life, you know?

HG: “Thunder” is one of my favorite tracks off of BRUTAL ROMANTIC. Where were you when you wrote that?

BF: Ironically, I was in a garage in the Pasadena hills with no clouds in sight but perhaps the odd bear or Englishman. It really came to life in the studio with David Kosten though, in freezing, stormy London.


HG: FLAGS and BRUTAL ROMANTIC are two distinctly different albums. How do you decide on certain genres to explore?

BF: I don’t decide on genres. I start writing and feel our where the songs want to go. There’s never anything pre-meditated about any of my albums or their sounds.


HG: Who are your biggest influences?

BF: I was certainly really influenced by Sweden when I was living there – the weather, culture, design aesthetic, work ethic, attitude – and that definitely informed much of Brutal Romantic. I also listened to a lot of Phil Collins and Eurythmics for research, but in general life was listening to Susanne Sundfor, Foster the People, Bach, Sohn etc. For the next project, I have a few ideas but am focused on finishing the Brutal Romantic tour strong!
HG: When you look back on all you have done so far, what are you most proud of in your career. Why is that?

BF: I’m proud that I stuck to my guns, for better or worse (and let’s be honest – it’s been both!). I was never pressured into doing or being anything that wasn’t me, and I have really pushed myself deeper and further artistically on every project. It’s been utterly grueling and totally rewarding doing things that way!


HG: And finally, what is next for you? How will your next album sound?

BF: The sound is always the end point of the project’s evolution and not something I ever necessarily see clearly at the beginning.  So I’ll start with the first little nuggets of lyrics and melodies and beats and sound references that come, follow their rabbit trails and see where I end up.

For more on Brooke’s daily life: @brookefraser

For the Facebook friendly: www.Facebook.com/brookefraser

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