Hillsong's Brooke Fraser is set to release her new album "Brutal Romantic" in November in North America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand with a Spring 2015 release date in Europe. "Brutal Romantic" which feature 10 new songs presents a different side to this writer of Hillongs' "Desert Song" and "Hosanna."
"I really felt that Flags [her third album, released in 2010] was the end of a trilogy for me as an artist. I felt like I'd explored the folk pop singer songwriter world. I knew that I had always set my voice against really warm organic sounds, and I really wanted to experiment with setting my voice against different textures - spiky things and cold things and mechanical things, and bring out the tension and contrast and balance that could be enjoyed if I did that."
That experimentation took her on a rather unusual, ear-opening journey, through many different cities, and cultures, writing with a wide array of collaborators, trying to discover exactly what this new Brooke Fraser would sound like. One in particular who she found very compatible, was Tobias Froberg, from Sweden, who lives on Gotland, an island in the middle of the Baltic Sea.
"Basically, I'd asked some of my musician friends to send me lists of kind of obscure musicians I should try working with, and one of my Swedish friends recommended Tobias Froberg. So Tobias is a Gotlander, who lives in this converted farmhouse, with a well in his living room, and he's actually a very strange Swiss Army knife of a man -- like he was the editor of Swedish Elle, he was a professional soccer player, and then he's also an amazing songwriter and producer, and a farmer. Those damned Swedes, they just do everything well!" she laughs.
"But we just hit it off, which is rare for me, so I ended up going back there twice more, and spent a couple of weeks writing with him at the farm."
Another of her successful songwriting collaborations was with her husband, who also helped her out with Something In The Water, the hit from Flags, and helped bring her first official single from this album, Kings and Queens, to life.
"He's quite good with the singles - he's very handy with the pop stick for sure."
Like Kings and Queens, which is an empowering ear-worm - "It is a bit of a good running song I think. I had it in my Nike Run app as one of my 'power songs', for when you need to push to the finish" - the whole album is more anchored in the world of deep electronic beats and synths, and is bolder, sharper, less polite, more cynical, and imbued with an entirely new rock 'n' roll attitude.
"I think on first listen, people might feel that Brutal Romantic is a drastic change, I think as it grows with people and they listen to it more, they'll find the same Brooke Fraser DNA in the songs. They still come from my heart, my creativity, my imagination, but they're just wearing different sonic clothes."
The main man responsible for helping her make this leap into this new soundscape is David Kosten - he's released several albums under the name Faultline, as well as working with acts like Bat for Lashes, Everything Everything, and Gabrielle Aplin. "Initially I thought I was going to make an organic album with electronic elements, but that really turned on its head over the course of time, so it ended up being more an electronic album with organic elements. I knew I needed help to do it though, because I don't come from the electronic world, and so I needed someone who was skilled and schooled and really comfortable in that area."
"When David's name came up, I thought he might be perfect, so I actually took a bit of a leap, and I just rang him, and basically asked him out on an album date, and said, 'Will you make an album with me?'
"I think he was so shocked that he said yes. I tricked him, and we did it!"
The album title, which helps to signal that change in sonic direction, landed in Fraser's lap quite early on in the process, but she immediately knew it was right. "Randomly, I was doing a photo shoot in Sweden, and the photographer had a friend who was a Swedish fashionista in the 70s. And she's a bit spiritual and a bit of a hippie, and we'd been hanging out, talking about the music, and she goes, 'I think it will be brutal romantic!' And I was like, that's it! Brutal Romantic. I loved it."
"There's a lot of ambiguity in it, but there's tension and balance within the words, there's juxtaposition, and also I felt like it could reference an era, like the Jurassic period, the Renaissance period, the brutal romantic period. Or it could describe a person. So I liked all the different applications of it, and I liked that it says everything, and it says nothing.
"There's a part of me that's really enjoying playing with perception a bit on this album, and so that trickles through from the album title I guess, to songs like Psychosocial or Magical Machine, where I'm kind of examining that strange dynamic of how we see each other, how we see artists, and celebrity, and people in the public eye."
Here's the track listing of "Brutal Romantic"
3. Start a War
4. Kings and Queens
6. Brutal Romance
7. Je Svis Pret
8. Magical Machines
9. New Histories
10. New Year's Eve