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.”
Named for the Toronto area they grew up in, The Beaches are a far cry from a placid day on the lake. Led by singer/bassist Jordan Miller—with her sister and guitarist Kylie Miller, guitarist/keyboardist Leandra Earl and drummer Eliza Enman-McDaniel—the Canadian four-piece burst out of Toronto with their 2018 debut, Late Show, and have since built up an aura of dissident swagger. Taking home this year’s Juno for Breakthrough Group of the Year, the all-fem rock quartet is bringing grunge, gloss, and 70s glamour to a predominantly male genre. Georgie caught up with Leandra to talk about the band’s latest music video, taking charge of their music, and three simple ways to keep women in the industry. G—Did you grow up together in Toronto? LE—Yeah, I met the girls in high school. Jordan and Kylie are sisters, so they’ve known each other a bit longer, but they grew up with Eliza in Toronto’s Beaches area. G—What kind of music were you listening to at that time? LE—We grew up listening to all of the music our parents listened to. That definitely influenced us while writing our debut album since we drew from a lot of the 70’s music that our
Tyler Shaw is going through a renaissance. After exploding onto the scene and the charts in 2012 with his hit single “Kiss Goodnight” and a wildly successful debut album that followed, it’s hard to imagine what the Canadian pop singer could possibly need to reinvent. But after two years of writing and exploring, Shaw has taken the reigns on developing a new album and a new sound that’s better in tune with his growth as an artist. Just before the release of his new single “With You”, Georgie caught up with Shaw over the phone to talk about his upcoming album, mental health, and the feelings he’s harnessed into a musical renewal. G— What were some of the biggest differences for you between making the upcoming album and making Yesterday? TS—Yesterday was more so “I’m a new artist, I don’t really know what I want to do. This sounds cool on my voice, so does this.” With this album on the other hand, I know what I want. I know what melodies I want to go to and what I want to talk about. [Yesterday] came out in 2015, and ever since then, I mean, you go through life experiences
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