An Interview With Broadtree
Broadtree just released a beautifully woven folk rock album with alternative undertones and a refreshing edge to go along with the record's cinematic and duet based sounds.
The Feeling Bad. Feeling Better. album is packed with lush harmonies and call back vocals from both male and female members and it gives everything the massive soundscape that creates its own atmosphere.
The record has a heavy acoustic based sound and is complete with string sections that form a sheen over the songs and synth pads add a pop sensibility that sticks throughout the albums 11 track course.
This release is laced with piano ballads and moving songs that tug at the heart strings and all seem to come from a real place built from emotional experiences.
Now, there are plenty of up swing pop tracks that don't quite escape the groups staple sound but do venture into new territory and this makes the album full of pleasant surprises.
Most of the songs are sing-alongs that are fitting for so many fans of folk, pop punk, indie-rock, and even Americana.
As it plays out, you peel back layers that make it feel like a concept album with each song painting another picture and telling another story that connects with the last.
With such an in depth album, we wanted to sit down with Broadtree to talk shop and find out where everything came from. Here's what happened.
TSWS: Let's start with the Feeling Bad. Feeling Better. album. This record has a very anthemic undertone a lot of the time and gives off a 90's Americana rock feel. I love the duet style vocals as well. Where did this record come from?
Nicole: During the pandemic, as performing artists, we didn’t have a lot going on.
Armand: Apparently watching endless reruns of Friends didn’t count for much. Well, originally, I was working on a solo EP and had one track, Red, that I knew I wanted to have as a duet. We’d worked together on several theatre projects in the past. I’ve always enjoyed hearing Nicole sing, plus she’s a pretty great friend to have around, so it was fitting to have her be a part. And once the song came out, we decided to have a little virtual launch party and called ourselves ‘A&N’. People responded so well to the covers we had played and we enjoyed ourselves so much, that we released an EP. Before that EP was even finished, we were already starting to write our own songs, and it’s been a whirlwind ever since.
Nicole: We seem to have an intuition for what the other is thinking, musically and lyrically - our songs tend to come together very quickly. We weren’t intentionally aiming for any particular style or genre; it evolved very naturally. And themes began to emerge - themes about mental health, relationships, and the ups and downs of being a performer during these times. We knew two or three songs in that we had an album in the making.
TSWS: I'm hearing a number of styles songwriting wise on this record. Who are some of your actual biggest musical influences?
Armand: As much as I enjoy the occasional country show, I had no clue I would ever be writing a full country album. That said, what we write tends to be quite different than what a typical country album might sound like. Musically, musical theatre played a part in how we wrote lyrics and stories in our songs. As far as music, it’s hard to pinpoint what came up in the album. There were elements of 80s anthem rock a la Bon Jovi, there were elements of Taylor Swift - I’m sure there’s a lot you can fill in between those two.
Nicole: I grew up with country, and we are both 90s kids, so it makes a lot of sense that those might come out without trying too hard. That, plus ‘show tunes’ is probably most of what I listen to. We definitely approach our songs as storytelling, which comes from that theatre influence; we always have a very clear idea of the characters within the song and their experience. It makes for a very different sound that is hard to pin down, which is really kind of cool.
TSWS: The album feels like a huge undertaking. Is there any advice you'd give to other up and coming artists and bands out there?
Nicole: Personally, I would say, just go for it! I know I’m often held back by the idea of ‘not being ready’ - I can say with certainty that without Armand’s ‘just do it’ influence, I wouldn’t be here; even if I had the guts to undertake this alone, I would be working on a song endlessly and never feel it was ‘good enough’. But sometimes you just gotta show up and sing. There are so many resources and so much technology out there to get you started. Programs like GarageBand, how-to videos on YouTube. Platforms like Apple Music and Spotify to release on. Being able to self-promote on social media. There’s so much you can do and create as an individual that would have been so much harder several years ago. So take advantage of it! If you want to make music, go for it!
Armand: Although the music business has changed entirely in the last few years and there have been challenges that come with that, like the number of artists being able to self-promote, it also means that you have endless opportunities to create and promote your own content in a way that fits you best. Aiming to sign a big record deal isn’t the Golden Snitch - it’s about getting listeners in, however possible. And with the cost of equipment coming down so much, creating a home studio has become so easy to do. Like Nicole mentioned, look online for what you need to start creating - but, don’t forget to write first!
TSWS: How did this all start for you guys?
Armand: As we mentioned earlier, everything happened pretty quickly. From the moment we decided to work together on the Red single, we knew we wanted to keep things going.
Nicole: There was something special in how we worked together - there was this intrinsic thought process we shared that we couldn’t say no to. We had to see where it could potentially lead.
TSWS: What are each of you doing when you are NOT working on music?
Nicole: Not working, sadly!! Normally there are a few theatre companies that I regularly tour with. Since COVID I try to keep a toe in the theatre world as best I can by doing online script readings and workshops, small film shoots when possible… I’m actually working on creating a children’s theatre show with a friend. And I’ve been doing a lot of biking.
Armand: That’s a double here - I had a long-running mentalism show in Toronto that was also shut down due to COVID, so having something creative has been great. Otherwise, running? But that depends on the week you ask me. I also have a full time job appeasing the needs of our mascot, Phantom - a too-smart-for-her-own-damn-
TSWS: What's next for you as a band?
Nicole: We’re still feverishly writing; it’s what makes us most happy, and we’re well on our way to our next album! But until then, we’ll be working on some covers, with eventual live performances in mind. We also have some fun side projects planned, like ‘song exchanges’ where we cover original songs written by our Instagram artist friends, and something called ‘The Musical Postcards World Tour’, a YouTube broadcast we are hosting showcasing songwriters from all over the world.
Armand: We’re excited to let this album live for a while. As we start to plan for potential outdoor patio shows, we get to dive into some exciting covers to keep us busy when we’re not coming up with new songs, which since day one has been a hard thing to do - we’re always writing even when we don’t plan to!
TSWS: Who are all of you listening to right now?
Armand: When I’m not listening to Taylor Swift? Since the release of the album, I’ve been listening to a lot of Canadian country artists that all have something unique. Being a big Default fan, I’ve enjoyed Dallas Smith quite a bit.
Nicole: Oh God! I don’t tend to listen to anything consistently, certainly not anything current! Right now, Ra, old-school Great Big Sea, and the 9-5 the Musical soundtrack. That, and The Greatest Showman.
Armand: Yeah, The Greatest Showman is pretty much what our lives are founded upon now.
TSWS: Now that things are getting back to normal slowly but surely, will you be focusing on any live performances anytime soon?
Nicole: Actually, yes! We are in the process of booking some gigs in the Maritimes (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI and Newfoundland/Labrador) and planning a tour of the Canadian East Coast.
Armand: Which we’re so excited about. It’s about a 20 hour drive from where we are in Toronto, but our area of the country has been in an indefinite lockdown, so we have no idea when/if we’ll be able to play anywhere this year at home.
Nicole: Well, I’m from Nova Scotia, so technically I’m going home!
TSWS: Did this album come out the way you thought? Were you all happy with it? (you should be haha)
Nicole: Ha Ha! Thank you! We are so, so proud of what we’ve accomplished. It’s our baby. It was definitely surprising in some ways! We didn’t really have anything specific in mind, so to see it come together the way it has has been kind of surreal. It was a huge amount of work, and each song is very special to us, very personal, very close to our hearts. We are so excited to share these songs at last, and so eager to hear what people think of them. The support we’ve seen so far has been amazing; it means so much to us.
Armand: Everything was written on an acoustic guitar going into the whole process, so we really had no idea what it might sound like in the end. I think it’s safe to say we assumed it would be a nice acoustic album. But I don’t think either of us could’ve predicted it turning into this pop-country/musical theatre blend that people seem to be enjoying. Each song has a life of its own, with characters and storylines. We didn’t expect to have full string orchestrations or guitar solos - all of it was an amazingly pleasant surprise once it was finished. Each song evolved so much. So, to answer the actual question… Yes. so happy!
TSWS: You wake up in the middle of the night starving. What's your go to midnight snack? (This is a question of character for each of you)
Nicole: Salt and Vinegar chips. Or coconut chocolate ice cream. Certainly nothing healthy!
Armand: Of course you’d go for salt and vinegar. Although the coconut ice-cream is quite delicious. I love to cook, so I’ll end up making an over the top grilled cheese - just because I have to. I’ve been really trying to avoid the late night McDonald’s munchies as much as possible.
TSWS: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music?
Armand: I don’t know if the words “thank you for listening” are ever enough. This is such a passion project and something we’ve worked extremely hard on. Knowing others have enjoyed listening is all we can ask for. Although we will say that we can’t wait to meet you all in-person very soon… Our first show with an audience is going to be one heck of a party!
Nicole: First off, thank you from the bottom of our hearts! We know our music is a bit different from what people may be used to hearing, so any time someone tells us they enjoy it or that it means something to them, that means the world to us. And please, if you enjoy it, don’t hesitate to reach out! Let us know what your favourites are! We love answering questions and hearing feedback on what you like or are curious about, and if you like it enough to do something with it (I’m eagerly anticipating the day someone uses it as underscore for a Tiktok!), we’d love to see that, too! So please, send em along. It truly makes our day :)