Interview: ODESZA

Within a short period of time, Seattle-based production duo Odesza have made quite a noticeable impression in the electronic music scene. The duo, consisting of producers Catacombkid (a.k.a. Harrison Mills) and BeachesBeaches (a.k.a. Clayton Knight), combined their respective styles and vision into crafting a project that truly speaks to and inspires the bedroom producer culture. With the release of their debut full-length album Summer’s Gone and its subsequent well-deserved warm reception last summer, Odesza continues to effortlessly build a loyal following for the project. The duo recently played a set here in Vancouver in support of Seattle’s Beat Connection and we took the opportunity to chat with Harrison and Clayton about their musical endeavors. Check out our interview with the duo below.

HG: Hey guys, so thanks again for taking the time out to chat with us. So, before this, we knew you guys as separate entities, as BeachesBeaches and Catacombkid which were two of our favorite projects ever since we stumbled upon them. Just in terms of how you guys got together…I mean your styles aren’t exactly similar, so how is it that you guys can do something that’s so cohesive as a duo?

Odesza: I think it’s because we’re both just fans of music in general. We like so many different kinds, like on the way here we were listening to the other guys in Beat Connection play weird abstract jazz and then we listened to tribal music, ’50s Motown…it’s crazy, it’s like wherever you want to take it…

…Yeah, we come from different backgrounds, its like a little more dancey stuff on my side and a more hip hop connection. But I think we have an open mind, both of us enough, that if we like it, it sounds cool, it doesn’t really matter what genre it is, we just kind of roll with it. So, yeah, it seems to blend well surprisingly. It seems with the internet culture, how it is now, everyone can hear everything and that’s what’s more appealing…and there’s definitely a blending of genres.

HG: Yeah absolutely, various music is so accessible nowadays. Describe to us what’s a typical recording procedure for you guys. How do you guys approach production?

Odesza: Build something? Basically, we start with a simple loop usually, so something that’s either sampled or a nice piano loop or something that we’ve recorded or anything like that and kind of just get a basic harmony. Then from there, kind of expand, so we’ll go drums next, rhythm next, and then  kind of try and layer – layer, layer, layer – and then once we get it way too big, way too much sound we start trimming and then cut back the pieces that are too much.

HG: Fair enough.

Odesza: Yeah, it’s pretty straight forward. We use Logic and just recently started working with Ableton so it’s been yeah, its been fun.

HG: That kind of answers another one of our other questions. We guess it was gonna eventually be covered, like what your live/recording stuff is like?

Odesza: Yeah.

HG: I know Ableton is pretty robust?

Odesza: Ableton, yeah, it is unfortunately…we’re kind of slaves to that software right now.

HG: Yeah, it happens.

Odesza: Yeah exactly, we’re trying to figure out ways to get around it but since we’re pretty…like this is our second tour, so we’re kind of new at the whole live process…

…yeah we didn’t really think about it when we made music…how we’re gonna perform it. We just kinda started making it.

…We kind of want to beef up everything eventually. Us playing live stuff…of visuals, and yeah…maybe we can add to it make it more appealing.

…Hopefully, hopefully the future will be a little more hands-on instead of what we have now.

HG: It’s definitely in that movement.

Odesza: Yeah, exactly.

HG: So you guys put out Summer’s Gone, that’s your first official kind of LP as this entity called Odesza. How long did that take you guys to put together, did you guys have kind of a whole bunch of songs that you guys were working on and you were just deciding which ones would fit into the album? With a certain aesthetic you were thinking about?

Odesza: Yeah, originally we got together and the whole process really only took four months for Summers Gone. Basically from us deciding, “yeah let’s start working on something,” to just trying to finish up stuff. I think we overall had like 18 songs and we trimmed it down..Trimmed it down, what we didn’t like.

…Yeah so lengthwise, it took, yeah, I mean we would’ve like probably spent more time on it haha, but we figured honestly we didn’t even expect the response, like, half the response…

HG: There’s always, so many revisions you could make, always.

Odesza: Yeah exactly, like going back we listened to it, it was just kind of like “oh, it’s embarrassing” haha.

HG: Haha, so you guys just kind of let it go and see what happens, that kind of thing?

Odesza: Yeah we kind of…we put out a single and it got a pretty good response and we’re like “maybe we should just drop it, see what happens”…

…Yeah, our main idea when we started was, we wanted to play it live because neither of us had done much live stuff so we were hoping that we could by combining both of our sounds like, create something that could be headphone music or it could also be played live, so you can connect to it on different levels and just have fun with it as well, so.

HG: Yeah, totally guys. So we don’t know how much time we have left here, it looks like they’re starting, but we have one more questions here.

Odesza: Yeah, they probably are.

HG: Do you guys have any specific procedures, preparations you guys make before you sit down or work on something?

Odesza: Lots of time. And yeah, a coffee has to be made, that seems to be very important haha. And yeah basically just…lots of inspiration I think. Think going and finding, finding a lot of the times…

HG: Where would that come from?

Odesza: Well, we’ll go on YouTube and we’ll just favorite thousands of videos of weird samples and stuff and then we play them to each other and then one of us is “oh, I like that” and then we both kind of jump on it.

HG: Awesome.

Odesza: So yeah, just kind of absorbing as many different styles and genres as we can before we start so you just get a wide range. Kind of clean the slate for creative-wise and then just go at it and then once you’ve got something, like an idea, just like a glimpse of an idea, just run with it…

HG: Oh yeah for sure.

Odesza: Pretty much and then that’s kind of just how it works, yeah.

…But that can also end up wrong, like, “Oh!” The next day, “that sounds terrible”.

HG: Haha, one of those, “It was a good idea at the time” things.

Odesza: Haha yeah exactly. “It sounded good last night”…Yeah, I think it’s just as important to know when a songs bad haha.

…And when a song’s good haha.

HG: You have to sleep on it.

Odesza: Exactly… Yeah, we had a couple times…Takes a fresh ear to know.

HG: Definitely. So, what do you guys in general think about music blog culture because it’s super saturated right now and there’s just a lot of blogs. What’s your take on it? Does it help or I don’t know, how do you guys see it?

Odesza: I think it helps but I think it’s the same thing with music… Everyone’s making music now, everyone’s got a blog now so it’s like you say, its really saturated but I mean the ones that stand out and the ones that actually care are the ones that really help people and I think that people that really care about music and that work their ass off to make good songs, like you care about those people because I know people that aren’t famous at all on Soundcloud and I go “this guy’s like the best, like I love this guy, I wish he was bigger”.

HG: For sure.

Odesza: I think it’s a good thing overall that I mean, especially the good blogs, like you guys do a really good job I think, and promoting artists that probably would’ve never been heard before without a blog scene, so…

HG: Thanks, yeah for sure.

Odesza: …it definitely helps.

HG: A lot of it’s boredom.

Odesza: haha

HG: Haha and just searching through Soundcloud and stuff.

Odesza: Yeah, yeah, see that’s good. Someone needs to do it, so it just kind of opens the door a little bit for people to experience new sounds. So I think it’s overall definitely a good thing.

…And I think a lot of producers that see their stuff posted on certain websites start listening to the other people that those people post because like “Oh this guy posted it, I’d like to know what they’re into” so, I mean I feel I’ve gotten introduced to that by seeing like a blog post about us, I’ve seen like other people, like “Oh, they’re really cool”.

HG: Anything that helps contribute to a community where musicians or producers can get in contact with each other and do stuff, collabs or whatever.

Odesza: Definitely, yeah.

…Yeah, exactly. Yeah that’s always good. Building that community is I think a very important piece.

HG: We think that was the biggest goal with our blog…to kind of create a big music community. And we know our blog is a little bit of a niche blog but it’s surprising to know that there’s a lot of people around the world that kind of share the same tastes. So it’s really interesting to see that.

Odesza: It’s an honour to see our stuff on your guys’ site.

HG: Haha, we’re not even a big deal or anything!

Odesza: No, no, no we were following you before anything was posted.

HG: We were obsessed with your projects before, just like “I don’t know who these people are, but they’re awesome”. Like BeachesBeaches… Geeking out right now, sorry haha. Okay, so you guys are playing Sasquatch festival, that must be exciting?

Odesza: Yeah, I don’t know if we feel fully worth it. We are trying so hard…It should be fun though. So, definitely an honour. I’ve gone like almost every year so to see our name on the thing its just kinda like surreal in a way.  I don’t feel like I deserve it, I mean the way we do stuff but I mean I guess it worked out. So, something clicked.

…we also feel like there’s a lot of pressure that comes with that…“Don’t fuck up” haha because we have to… like if we’re on a bill with like people we respect that much we have to bring it.

HG: Haha yeah that lineup is stacked this year!

Odesza: It’s ridiculous.

HG: So what do you guys think of Vancouver so far?

Odesza: Vancouver…it’s been short.

…haha yeah we just got here.

…yeah, the traffic was bad haha.

HG: It’s rush hour guys.

Odesza: The border people are…have a huge attitude.

HG: Haha they do.

Odesza: I’ll tell you that much haha.

…But Vancouver, it seems good. [Beat Connection] have been here a couple times and they love it.

…I’ve heard awesome things, especially about the sound guy.

…yeah so it should be good.

HG: This is a really good venue, it’s one of my favorites in the whole city.

Odesza: Yeah, it’s a great, great looking spot. Best one we’ve played all tour so far. So I’m pretty excited.

HG: I was here for Flume just a couple weeks ago.

Odesza: Oh wow, Flume played here?

HG: …the air conditioning was broken so everyone was drenched in sweat for like three hours.

…I feel like that happens every time Flume plays a show. I feel like that’s something that just happens.

…he’s just like “turn the AC off, it’ll be a better show that way”.

Odesza: Haha I’ve seen him post tons of times, he’s like so pumped to be in his sweaty clothes.

…Haha he always says that.

HG: It’s like a thing.

Odesza: I knew he was into it.

HG: It’s in his rider.

Odesza: Yeah exactly.

HG: Bus can’t have AC.

Odesza: Someone has to faint.

HG: Need to simulate Australia at all times. That’s where he’s from.

…I was struggling to stay, but I’m like “it’s too good, I can’t leave, I can’t leave”. But I was gonna die of heat stroke.

…he’s got some wicked tunes.

Odesza: He’s yeah, he’s on the up right now.

…you guys know Oliver Tank?

HG: Yep.

Odesza: We met him at…he came out to one of our shows in Santa Monica. Awesome guy.

HG: He’s also from Australia, isn’t he?

Odesza: Yeah. Australian scene’s killing it right now.

HG: Go to Australia. Every single person is a producer.

Odesza: Haha yeah and they’re all good.

HG: Alright guys parting words? What do you guys hope to do with your project? Where do you guys wanna go?

Odesza: Oh man. Well, we’re gonna try to release some new music at some point soon and just want to see how that goes and hopefully the response will be good. That’s the next big step…to see where that goes.

…Yeah we just appreciate the support in general and saying how much people have been kind to us so hopefully we don’t blow it haha.

HG: I’m sure you guys have nothing to worry about. I mean you guys came together so quickly and you put together something, like an album so quickly and I’m sure you guys have had just really great responses and reception for it so I don’t think you guys have anything to worry about.

Odesza: Well, we’ll see, we’ll see. I hope you’re right haha.

HG: Thanks again for doing this interview for the Hearing Gold blog guys!

Odesza: Thanks, you guys gonna be here tonight, right?

HG: Oh yeah, definitely.

Odesza: Cool, should be fun.

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