ODESZA – Seattle Electronic Duo Steps It Up (Interview)

ODESZA, a two-year-old electronic duo from Seattle, has quickly gone from side project to a notable underground electronic act now on their first national tour. Consisting of Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight, their debut release, Summer’s Gone, was a mixture of dreamy  melodies, mixed with glitchy vocals and grandiose bass lines.. Two tracks from Summer’s Gone, “How Did I Get Here” and “iPlayYouListen,” have reached #1 on the Hype Machine Popular chart, the underground electronic community.

Odesza is currently on tour, and will have a new album out this year. It looks to be a collaboration with various singers, a blend of a various styles, and should show a natural progression and their maturation as artists. We quickly caught up with band during their tour…

You have quickly gained national attention and a mostly sold out tour.  You’ve also been putting out albums and remixes at a fairly quick pace. How much of this feels like a big surprise, vs exactly what you were planning?
We always had high goals, but you know how finicky & fickle this industry is; it’s so hard to gauge that stuff. You always hope to build a connection with an audience and build a fan base, but we just tried to make as much music as possible, take as much opportunity as possible, take every opportunity that people offered even if we felt we didn’t have the time. It was a lot of late nights working hard and we got really lucky with getting this headlining tour.

How are you finding the live experience?

It’s the first time we’ve played having custom visuals (vs just some lights), which has really helped increase the experience of our live show. We’re also doing a lot of live sample playing and live drums and stuff, adding energy and making it fun. We’d hoped that by the end of the shows, people would have turned it into a big dance party. It’s been good – we weren’t sure how it’d be received but we’ve been pumped to find that we haven’t really had to change anything as the tour has progressed. People have been really excited.

What has been your goal in terms of making music as Odesza, and how have you felt about the direction you’ve taken so far? 

It all feels very natural for us so far – we’re into listening to new music, finding fresh sounds. Evolving is going to be key, and we want to keep maturing. We’re very similar in many ways, and we want to continue to grow our sound, to try new things. That’s what drives us.

Any big surprises thus far on tour? Any places where you were surprised by your reception? 

In general –we didn’t expect so many sold-out shows – maybe the hometown show, the LA one – but all these smaller ones where we’ve sold out, we had no idea. That’s been incredible.

As someone who lives in Seattle, when I first heard “Summer’s Gone,” it felt like the northwest, like a Seattle summer. It felt different than something that’d come out of LA or somewhere more sunny. (How) do you feel being from Seattle influences you or comes out in your music?

That’s definitely what we were feeling with that album. We made Summer’s Gone in Bellingham at the end of the summer, and we really were trying to capture that. Summers in Seattle – well, I think people take advantage of them more than people’d take advantage of sunny days elsewhere. Plus, it’s so beautiful in Seattle when it’s sunny, too, so we were trying to capture that overwhelming feel of nostalgia, warmth, at the risk of sounding cliché, in our music.

Also, the weather in Seattle, with all the rain, people end up being inside so much, and I think in our case that causes us to create more music. We’re usually on SoundCloud all day trying to find new music, and that inspires us. Sometimes you find a 14-year-old kid from Russia making better music than you, which is inspiring, helps us grow.

What are your interests outside music? Do you have time for much else?

I’m a designer, so outside of music I enjoy doing posters, merchandise stuff. I don’t get as much opportunity to do this these days, but I love listening to music and riding my bike. And in general, I love eating at new restaurants, trying new foods. Is this getting too personal?


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