Brooke Fraser’s homecoming
Bringing a new sound
Brooke Fraser achieved her biggest international success with Flags in 2010, but it left her feeling creatively stale and ‘‘ a little bit too comfortable’’.
‘‘My solution was to pack up and move to minus 12 degrees in Sweden,’’ she said. ‘‘I hoped that would jolt me out of my creative lethargy.’’
From a base on the Baltic island of Gotland, the Naenae singer made musical odysseys to Stockholm, Los Angeles, New York and London to work on her latest album, Brutal Romantic.
Fraser said Flags left her feeling part of her musical journey was complete.
‘‘I started with the notion that the next album would be very different,’’ she said.
Fraser’s distinctive voice combined with her strong melodies and lyrics to dominate her earlier, simpler work.
This time, production is a bigger element, along with more prominent vocal and instrumental backing, and an electronic flavour.
Although Brutal Romantic had a mixture of sources, its lyrics and melodies are Fraser’s and, she said, just ‘‘ a bit more grown up and mature’’.
‘‘There wasn’t a man sitting behind a window telling me what to do.’’
The rhythms, beats and synthesiser textures were all her of own conception, but she sought production help to realise them.
‘‘I looked for a very long time, because I needed the right person.’’
That person was David Kosten in London.
‘‘He’s actually an electronic genius.
‘‘He had the skills and technical wherewithal to help me create what I could only hear in my head, hampered by my limited beat-making skills.’’
Asked whether the title was a reference to the Romantic poets of the 19th century, she laughed.
‘‘ No, but you can certainly take it as that if you wish to.
‘‘I love that phrase – two very different words saying the same thing.
‘‘People are used to hearing my voice, lush and warm,’’ she said.
She has deliberately placed it against the diametric opposite musical texture.
Fraser is something of a contradiction.
She is an openly practising Christian, helps World Vision with its child sponsorship programmes and is a champion of providing clean water in the Third World.
But she is also part of the Los Angeles rock’n’roll fraternity.
Perhaps she is ‘‘ a little unusual’’, but her feet are planted in both worlds.
‘‘I’m a musician and artist in the industry, but I have strong roots and connections to my people, and the people I do life with.
‘‘Music is part of my identity, but not the whole thing.
‘‘ My happiness and my healthiness as a human being doesn’t rise or fall on whether my music is successful.’’
Brutal Romantic was released last week in record stores and on iTunes.
Fraser will return to New Zealand next year to tour the new songs, and some of the old ones. She is delighted she will return to her own stamping ground, Wellington – she will play at TSB Arena on March 27. Grounded: Brooke Fraser will bring home her latest album, Brutal Romantic, with a big
venue tour next year.