Fraser decided to take off on a solo road trip throughout America’s mainland in 2009… and came back to Australia with her second album in tow.
Brooke Fraser needed a break. After touring her debut album Albertine around the country for three years and completely immersing herself in the often heavy and complex themes presented on the record, the New Zealand-born singer-songwriter was simply exhausted. To fix the problem of burnout, Fraser decided to take off on a solo road trip throughout America’s mainland in 2009… and came back to Australia with her second album in tow.
“The frustrating and amazing thing about songwriting is that you can’t force it, you’re at the mercy of Mr Inspiration,” she laughs. “I just really wanted to write, but I felt like the tank was dry. I did a few road trips last year through some random remote places in America. I was by myself because I felt the best way to get inspired was by being alone, to find myself.
“I spent time in the rural mountains of North Carolina and in the summer I was in northern California… It was beautiful to see the winter and these incredibly vast and lonely landscapes as you’re passing through them. America is amazing because it’s an old country and I was really compelled by those ruins and I was thinking about the people who had lived in those places once. Where were the children now? Where were those people now? As you’re passing through the land you’re sort of passing through their lives. It’s very easy to think up imaginary
While rural America helped Fraser when it came to imagery and lyrical themes, it was attending one of the biggest music festivals in the world which was the real catalyst for getting the ball rolling musically. Coachella 2009 changed it all, the singer says.
“It was one of those moments when you’re not even planning it. Someone gave us tickets at the last minute so we went. It was a moment in my life that really gave me a lot of clarity and perspective. The sun was going down in the desert and I was watching some incredible bands play on the side of the stage. You could tell that everyone was feeling the same thing at the same moment.
“I just remember thinking how grateful I felt that I had also been given this opportunity to write songs too. It’s just that I was struggling with it at the time. So going to Coachella really got the ball rolling in terms of reminding me why I love to write and why I have to make music.”
Much had happened in Fraser’s personal life in the previous three years that would also come to play a big part in the way her new album Flags would sound. While Albertine dealt with the dark issue of genocide in Rwanda, Flags is more introspective and contemplative.
“I mean, the title track on my last album was about genocide so it wasn’t happy material to be singing about every single night,” she states. “That can also really take it out of you. But I am still so proud and I will sing that song (Albertine) every night even on this tour because I believe in it so much. I want people to get that message and to hear that story. At the same time, especially as an artist, you’ve got to move forward and try new things. I think on Flags you can definitely hear a lot more of my Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon influence. As an artist, repetition equals death.”
And whereas Albertine was an Australian and New Zealand-only album release, Fraser proudly announces Flags will serve as her first ever world-wide release – something that should do wonders for the singer’s international fanbase. And while she is looking forward to getting back on the road again, Fraser also points out that she’s enjoying the newfound joys of married life at the moment.
“I’m actually loving cleaning my own toilet and cooking and going to the supermarket…” she giggles. “It’s like a beautiful dream. Honestly, that’s all I want to do right now! I got married in the middle of my last tour and I’m obsessed with my husband; I’m his stalker!” she laughs. “I just want to be with him all the time. Getting married did impact my writing as well because all of a sudden, you can’t really get up at 2am to write an idea down because you’ll wake someone up!”
That’s not to say that Fraser’s husband hasn’t proved helpful in other ways too – especially when it came to giving his two cents on some of the singer’s new material.
“There are more joyous and happy songs because of him,” says Fraser. “To be honest, he actually even helped me write the first single Something In The Water. He’s not a musician or anything, but he helped out! I had the verse and the pre-chorus for the song and I’d been going around singing it for a few days just around the house… I think he just got sick of me going on about it and not finishing it and he just went, ‘well maybe it should go like this…’ And I had it! Well, we had it! We just sat down and looked into each other eyes and we both got goosebumps! It was definitely a standout song.”
BROOKE FRASER’s new album Flags is out this week through Sony.