Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight of Odesza are in a creative sprint. With the recent release of In Return (Deluxe Edition), the duo continues to usher in the rise of EDM with their unique blend of dreamy, genre-bending electronic music. Currently on a world tour – which is sold out in nine countries spanning three continents – Georgie caught up with Mills and Knight to talk about what it’s like in the eye of the Odesza whirlwind.
Odesza formed in 2013 in Seattle when Mills and Knight were attending college, taking their name from Caribou’s classic anthem, “Odessa”. The duo began their career playing tiny shows to tough crowds who were more into indie-folk than electronic music. An outlier on the Seattle music scene, Odesza remained inspired by their city.
Longing for summer is something that we do a lot of in Seattle – that’s why we have these bright sounds on our album
“Longing for summer is something that we do a lot of in Seattle – that’s why we have these bright sounds on our album,” explains Mills. “The weather is constantly overcast and drizzling, so when we get these brief moments of light, that feeling is something we try to capture in our music. We are constantly grasping for these moments.”
Odesza’s music has a unique duality of being both exotic and accessible. The duo have become experts in blending genres together and, from the chaos of their creation, something new and familiar emerges.
“Our music is kind of a melting pot for all the things we’re listening to at the time, and we try to blend all these different pieces together,” explains Mills. “I think that’s what our art is – a collage. It’s a lot of overlaying colours that wash together to become something beautiful, and that’s something that we always aim for.”
“We work with the balance of harmony and melody but use non-classical instrumentation,” describes Knight. “So our music tends to have a pop feel to it but it doesn’t sound like pop.”
“Pop gets a bad rap sometimes but it’s something that people are familiar with,” adds Mills. “It’s a familiar structure in the verse and the chorus. We try to sneak in genres like weird experimental or eclectic electronic music into a more pop structure so people don’t realize they might like something that’s a bit stranger than usual.”
Odesza’s debut album, Summer’s Gone, was released on Counter Records in 2013. It was sonically warm and atmospheric, and well received by critics – but it failed to gain momentum. On their second effort, In Return, the duo worked to streamline their multi-layered textures to produce a more refined sound.
“Our first album was kind of like our hobby,” explains Knight, “We weren’t overthinking it at all. On In Return, we took more time to get the production down. We wanted to make the album cleaner and more precise.”
In an effort to push past their comfort zone, Odesza worked with a number of up and comers on their second album, including London artist Py and Seattle native Jenni Potts. The deluxe edition of In Return also features a collaboration with Swedish group Little Dragon on the sultry and soulful track, “Light”.
“You can try to get a super megastar on a track but it could still end up sounding like shit. It’s pretty much trial and error,” says Knight. “Not every studio session is going to be fruitful, so you’ve got to take your time with it and try not to force anything.”
While on their world tour, the duo use their down time to connect with and to scope out other artists for their own label, Foreign Family Collective – a curated collective of visual artists and musicians.
“It was a label Clay and I started when we first met. That was the first thing we wanted to do – even before forming our band,” explains Mills. “We tried to put together a label of music we liked because we knew a lot of people, either online or in person, who needed a push. While we’ve been touring we’ve been slowly building a team. We wanted to make sure we were doing this right.”
As for the future, Odesza plans to expand Foreign Family Collective into other art forms – and they have their sights set high.
“We’ve got music in the works, but music is just the beginning,” says Knight. “We’re doing singles now but we plan on releasing LPs and EPs later. We would also like to jump into visual art and any other type of art form we’re into checking out. Really, in terms of where we want to go, the sky’s the limit.”
A few years ago, Danielle McTaggart was ready to throw in the towel on her music career. Now she and her husband, Drew, make up the powerhouse duo known as Dear Rouge and have two full-length albums and a Juno to their name. Known for their hook-driven tracks—and being “the nicest couple in Canadian music”—Dear Rouge just dropped their sophomore LP, Phases. The record recounts a season of emotional extremes for the couple, including winning the 2016 Juno for Breakthrough Group of the Year, and losing a loved one. We caught up with Danielle over the phone to talk about finding joy in music again, and the personal and public significance of Phases. G—On your website, you describe your style as “sinewy, hook-driven indie rock”. Where did that particular style evolve from? DM—I was always very into hook-y music with beautiful melodies. I grew up listening to The Carpenters and they have beautiful melodic parts, but I also always loved harder music and really rock-driven music. Bands like Metric or Yeah Yeah Yeahs or St. Vincent were hugely motivating for me, and I loved that these frontwomen were powerhouses. They’re very confident and trying to push the boundaries while
What do you get when you combine the start of a worldwide tour and the release of a highly-anticipated album on the same day? Ask Lord Huron’s founder and frontman, Ben Schneider, and he’ll say a pretty damn exciting journey ahead. The band’s third album, Vide Noir, released April 20, is already receiving accolades for its raw, lyrical storytelling from songs like “Wait by the River” and “When the Night is Over”. To engage fans at a deeper level, the band plans on creating immersive experiences that elevate the album’s narratives. Lord Huron’s tour includes a stop at Toronto’s Sony Centre on July 25, and at Osheaga in Montreal on August 4. Schneider spoke to us about his love of storytelling, Raymond Chandler influences, and what it was like working with Flaming Lips’ producer David Fridmann. G—You grew up in Michigan. Is that where your interest in music began? BS—There was always music on at our house, and I remember imagining the people the songs were about. The storytelling of songs is what’s always captured me most. As time went on, I was able to convince my parents to let me play bass in the orchestra, which led to me
Morgan Saint was born into a creative life. Upon growing up in Mattituck, NY with a family of musicians on her mother’s side and parents who worked in interior design, Saint graduated from Parsons School of Design in Manhattan, where she has lived for the past six years. With a major in illustration and a focus on photography and graphic design, Saint has executed a clear vision of her musical artistry. In 2017, at the age of 23, Saint released her debut EP, 17 Hero, on Epic Records. She is a storyteller at heart, combining all of her talents to reveal her narrative as truthfully as possible, one vignette at a time, as seen in all three of the EP’s videos, “Glass House”, “You”, and “Just Friends”. She co-produced each glossy, beautifully choreographed, and high-definition clip with Nathan Crooker, but the lyrics are all hers. They come from personal places yet are vague enough to be relatable. Her electronic pop is lo-fi, but you’ll most likely find yourself snapping your fingers to it. As Saint prepared for a sold-out show supporting Missio in Austin, Texas, Georgie connected with her to discuss coming into her own as a songwriter and