Odesza On Growing As Artists And Reaching "Higher Ground"
Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight of the electronic production duo Odesza have been putting out music together since their self-released debut album, Summer's Gone, blew on to the scene in 2012.
Odesza gained early praise for their unshackled beats and cinematic melodies, a style energetic dancers and vibing shoegazers alike could bite into musically, and their SoundCloud plays quickly topped 1 million in the year following their indie LP's first release.
The album quickly grabbed the attention of underground heads and Odesza's live set won over discerning festival attendees eager to hear how the nascent future bass scene would evolve. Summer's Gone struck a nerve as fans of the then-highly striated progressive/big-room and U.S. dubstep (read: bro-step) crowds began to intermingle and seek out new sounds built more around genre fusion and sonic experimentation, and less around the purity of a single dance music form.
They soon found a home with the venerable U.K. record label Ninja Tune, former launching pad for the careers of Daedelus and Floating Points, and current home to names like Bonobo, Amon Tobin, and Machinedrum. With support from Ninja Tune, Odesza's critically acclaimed 2014 album, In Return, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart and spawned RAC's GRAMMY-nominated remix of "Say My Name," a track from the album.
All during this time, Mills and Knight kept their ears open and scoured sites like SoundCloud to seek out young, on-the-cusp vocalists in order to build collaborative relationships.
"A lot of younger artists are hungrier, and more willing to try new things," Mills explains.
As they began writing their third album, the forthcoming A Moment Apart, Odesza opened up the process even more.
"We really wanted to try new things and collaborate in a new way. It was a lot of actually going into the studio, vibing it out with the song, and trying to find a new route together," says Mills. Knight is quick to echo the sentiment, adding, "It was more collaborative this time, as opposed to In Return, where it felt like there was more space between us and the other artists."
On the subject of trying new things, we posed a hypothetical to the pair: Given their penchant for grand scale production and sweeping cinematic melodies, what type of live show would they dream of putting together if they were given a near-limitless budget?
"So … we're floating above everyone …," Mills begins, "No, actually Kanye kinda already did that (laughs)." More seriously, he explains, "We really love cinematic music, and it would be great to bring a full choir, a full drumline — bigger than we've had before — a string section, a horn section. Everything together would be a pretty epic performance. Hans Zimmer-style."
"I don't know how you'd pull it off though. [It's] hard to mix like 80 artists on a stage," Knight laughs.
The duo also shared the story behind the newest single from A Moment Apart, the nostalgic mid-tempo groover "Higher Ground," which they wrote while on a creative retreat at Lake Chelan, just outside of Seattle, Wash.
"We got this email from a fan, which was Naomi Wild, and she sent this a cappella, like an older demo of the track," Mills reveals. "We were about to leave and go get dinner, but we were so inspired by her vocal that we wrote pretty much the whole song right there. It really felt like it wrote itself, which is a rare moment."
A Moment Apart is due out this week, on Sept. 8, and you can still catch Mills and Knight on their 2017 A Moment Apart Tour, which is currently wrapping up its European dates before heading back stateside with plans to hit all areas of the U.S. and Canada between late October and mid-December.