- Words by James Carroll
- Photography by Petra Eujane
ODESZA have returned with what will be their defining record to date A Moment Apart, we sit down with the duo to talk big-name collaborations, organic instrumentation and the lingering influence of Seattle.
When we meet Clayton Knight and Harrison Mills of ODESZA in the Ninja Tune headquarters of south London, they are friendly, humble and clearly very excited about their new release. A sprawling visual and collaborative project that sees them pushing themselves to the limits of their capabilities, it’s set to be the most defining record of their career to date. We talk about their hometown of Seattle, their love of music and how they made this incredible piece of work.
Do you think that as an artist you have a responsibility to your listener to offer something positive rather than offer something negative?
HM: That’s a really interesting question. I think this is the first record where we’ve ever delved into melancholy sounds. We are more known for this sunshiny positive kind of atmosphere, and it sounds so corny, and I haven’t found a better way to say this, but I think there is a beauty in the sadness, in the darkness. However you want to say it.
Why do you think that is?
HM: I think people feel connected through feeling alone. A lot of people feel similarly, and I think when you feel that from a song you feel like someone else felt like that or maybe the person who wrote it felt this way, and I feel like I’m connecting to.
Do you get to meet a lot of your fans?
CK: Yeah we try to do a lot of meets and greet opportunities if we can. And that’s actually been a really good experience. You can see the feedback via social media but we just did an album signing in Seattle and people would come and tell you ‘your music saved my life’ and that kind of stuff.
HM: It’s a pretty hard thing to deal with too. That’s not enough time to have a real conversation when it comes to something that serious so you try to linger after so you can talk to as many people.
ODESZA - Across The Room (feat. Leon Bridges)
So how did the Ninja Tune connection come about?
HM: We were opening for Bonobo, and they had been talking to us and there is a guy who works here called Adrian Kemp. And he wrote this amazing critique of our music, and it felt right. You could tell that he’d taken the time to listen really and he told us what he thought worked and what didn’t. And that was what we wanted. We wanted someone who was passionate about what we were making. It was constructive criticism.
Tell me about the live show.
CK: We’ve got a brass section and a guitar player. And a percussion element with us too. We spend a lot of time on the live show. The album is one thing and that’s great but a huge section of our fanbase enjoys us for our live performance, and we try to make that a very special thing.
HM: Like 60 percent of the music is new versions of the songs.
CK: We have visuals that are custom made by this guy Luke who is a good friend of ours. And then all the lighting. We spend probably way too much time getting all that lined up. So it should be a visual audio experience. We work hard on it.
HM: As soon as we go ‘Ah it will be fine.’ That’s when it’s not going to be fine.