Brooke Fraser on 10 years of Flags
This week is the 10 year anniversary of Brooke Fraser’s iconic album Flags. Written and released in 2010, it delivered some of Brooke’s most well loved tracks including ‘Something in the Water’ and ‘Betty’.
To celebrate the decade since Flags, Brooke is launching a three series podcast, along with specials guests, Boh Runga, Kim Boshier (Sony Music New Zealand), Nick Atkinson and more.
Calling from Los Angeles, where she lives with her husband and two daughters, Fraser joined Charlotte Ryan on Music 101 to discuss the album’s impact, which she says gives her feelings of nostalgia and a sense of homecoming.
“Flags was the first album I produced,” she said. “I can only explain it as when I first started writing songs when I was 12, it felt like a bit of an internal homecoming, like I have found a thing that is part of me, where I was always sort of supposed to exist.”
After sitting in the producer’s role for the first time, Fraser says that imagining music and then hearing her vision on tape for the first time brought on a similar feeling to homecoming to what she felt in her youth.
Fraser says it was “a gift” to hear about how songs on the album had affected listeners and made an impact on their lives – in particular the track ‘Who Are We Fooling?’
“Just a few months ago that a friend of mine from Melbourne messaged me and said that she’d just been listening to that song and she realised she’d never told me a story about a friend of hers that were going through a really tough spot in her marriage and had decided to get a divorce.
“Then Flags came out and they heard that song and something clicked for them and they decided to turn away from the edge at the end, as the lyrics said and give their marriage another shot.”
The couple are still married to this day.
“Maybe that song in a moment could inspire people to want to give something tough another shot, to keep a family together,” she says. “That’s pretty compelling for me, what a gift.”
The most successful single on the album, ‘Something in the Water’ ended up being a partial collaboration with her husband Scott, which was a surprise for Fraser as the couple had previously kept their songwriting practices seperate.
Fraser was struggling with the chorus for several weeks, before her husband came forward with a suggestion.
“I think that that story just really speaks to his humility, the way that he’s honestly always been really really incredible about protecting my art and my space to be an artist,” she says.
“I think it speaks a lot to his level of restraint that he sat on that chorus for two weeks and watched me ache and anguish over trying to find one and then only at my prodding, after his gentle hint, that he admit that he had a chorus and then he played us that chorus and the rest is history.”
These days, the singer-songwriters mostly work recording Christian music for Hillsong Church’s worship band, Hillsong Worship, which is released under her married name, Brooke Ligertwood.
She says that while both her songs for Hillsong and her songs as Brooke Fraser come from the same place, they are still very different.
“The songs that I write for our church, for Hillsong Worship, are very specifically oriented to be a song of worship that someone can sing to God,” she says.
“Whereas I feel like Brooke Fraser songs, I’ve always thought of as being like bridges, bridges to comfort or bridges to an ephiphany or bridges to whatever it might be that someone needs in that moment.
“I would hope that someone could put on a Brooke Fraser record, whoever they are, whether they’re a person of some belief or no belief and be comforted and served by it in some way.”
However, those who are hoping for new Brooke Fraser songs might find themselves waiting for a while.
“Spoiler alert, there is nothing. I think you never know what will happen in the seasons and chapters of life and perhaps there’ll be new songs in the future, but for now honestly I just feel really grateful that anybody remembers and wants to celebrate Flags.
“That’s been a really really touching and moving and gratitude-inducing thing for me, the amount of people that have been interested in talking about this … that this album meant something to people and that is just such a precious thing.”