4 Oct 2014

Brooke Fraser: new directions

From Saturday Morning, 10:05 am on 4 October 2014

Brooke Kim

New Zealand singer-songwriter and philanthropist Brooke Fraser has sold over 700,000 albums (What to Do With Daylight, Albertine, Flags). She has released two tracks - Psychosocial and Kings + Queens – from her new album, Brutal Romantic, due in November, ahead of her North American tour in January and Australian and New Zealand tour in March 2015.

She talks with Kim Hill about about her career and Brutal Romantic.

New Zealand singer and songwriter Brooke Fraser, who has sold over 700,000 albums during the course of her career, has headed in a very different direction in her new album, Brutal Romantic.

As she told Kim Hill in an exclusive radio interview for Radio New Zealand's Saturday Morning programme, her first new set of recordings in four years has electronic and at times harsh and aggressive backings for her vocals, which may surprise fans used to the sweet melodies and singing on her previous albums.

"Of course I try to please the audience," she said "It escapes me now who said it, but 'Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.' It's my responsibility, as an artist, to provide a window of hope but also to provoke and question."

Born and raised in Lower Hutt, Wellington, Fraser gained early local notice with her debut album, What to Do With Daylight, and went on to greater international success with Albertine and Flags.

Now resident in Los Angeles, Fraser took four years to finish Brutal Romantic.

Written across the planet in locations that included Stockholm, Los Angeles, New York and an Island in the Baltic Sea, Brutal Romantic was recorded and produced in London by Fraser and David Kosten.

The first track from the album, Psychosocial, was released through social media, which Fraser described as "a fascinating anthropological exercise".

"I think it's amazing that a fan anywhere from Belarus to the Philippines can feel that they have a connection with me, when I might not ever get an opportunity to play a show in their country. I think where things get sticky is that we have all this connectivity without connection, and we as humans if we're online, are more accessible than ever but more isolated and lonely than ever."

She said the sound on Psychosocial was as authentic as it gets.

"I think it's to do with the DNA of the songs. I mean Psychosocial sounds gritty and rough because the vocal that's on the end product is me being sick with the flu in Sweden, and having an idea for the song and thinking 'I can't forget that', running to the computer, pushing a click and singing it into my computer, which is why it sounds like it does. People think we've deliberately put all this crazy stuff on it, but actually I was very sick and I recorded it straight into a MacBook Air, which is why it sounds like it does.

The first official single off the album, Kings + Queens, was released this past week, and the Brutal Romantic album is available for digital pre-order now for 14 November release.

Brooke Fraser and her band will tour North America in January next year, before heading to New Zealand for the first time since 2011, with concerts in Hamilton, Palmerston North, Invercargill, Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Auckland, New Plymouth, Napier and Tauranga during March and April 2015.

WATCH Psychosocial here

WATCH Kings + Queens here


  • Brooke Fraser - Live at the Holy Trinity Cathedral
  • Brooke Fraser: live in session