ODESZA Interview: One of the Leading Production Duos of Early 2015 Speaks to Green Label
“Playing shows in Seattle are always better,” says Odesza’s Clayton Knight. You can hear the jubilation in Clayton’s voice every time he mentions his city. It’s easy to see why he would prefer the Emerald City over anywhere else. For him and fellow bandmate Harrison Mills, Seattle is where everything began for them.
Growing up, the two beatmakers marveled at the idea of one day joining forces and performing center stage at their town’s biggest music festival, Sasquatch. In 2012, they injected a dose of nostalgia onto the genre when they released their debut project Summer’s Gone. Rather than throw a price tag on their project, Odesza released their EP for free. Critics like Stereofox and Earmilk lauded the duo for not only their altruism, but for also their near-flawless execution on Summer’s Gone.
This year, they will be headlining some of the biggest festivals on the music circuit. They've been tapped to make appearances at Coachella, Governor's Ball, Lighting in a Bottle, and of more notably, Sasquatch, as headliners. This time around, they'll be bringing more goodies. In 2014, fans were delighted to see the growth in their sophomore release In Return. In addition to producing more scintillating, dance-worthy beats, they added several vocalists to help create even more potent cuts. Tracks like "Say My Name", "White Lies", and "All We Need", proved to be indomitable records, which further solidified their genius.
We sat down with Clayton Knight to speak about the group's upcoming festivals, hopes of working with Kendrick Lamar, the success of In Return, and more.
Congrats on just booking the Sasquatch Festival! You guys have a boat load of festivals coming out including Coachella and Governor's ball. Talk about the excitement behind landing another festival, especially with this one being in your hometown of Seattle.
ODESZA: Yeah, man! We're busy. Sasquatch is a total honor to play. We played that actually two years ago, but basically at this dance tent that they had at the festival. What they do in the afternoon is that they have comedians play. And then, the music starts around like one or two in the afternoon. We were like the very first act our first year that we went there. Now we get to close the tent down, which should be nice. It's a nice change.
You guys released In Return back in September. Looking back now, nearly six months from its initial release, would you have made any changes towards the project? Or are you completely content with the end result?
ODESZA: Oh, man. I don't think I'm ever perfectly content, unfortunately. (Laughs) You know, you always listen to it and you want to go back and change things. I could have probably worked on that single product for like ten years. But, I think overall it came out pretty solid. There's definitely some things I would have gone back and changed. But I really liked the final product.
Experimentation is very big for you guys. On that project, you guys added vocalists, more notably Zyra. Is that something you guys plan to follow that same formula moving forward, or was that just a one-time thing?
ODESZA: I think we'll have some featured vocalists on the next one. I'm not sure if we'll push it as hard as we did. Almost half of the album contained featured vocalists. So we may back off for a little bit and focus on a couple of tracks that we really enjoy and really want someone to sing on. We're kind of in a writing stage right now and I'm pretty excited about how some of the stuff is coming out. It's coming out pretty unique and definitely different sounding from everything else that we've done. That's kind of the goal.
You guys mentioned back in August about wanting to collaborate with Kendrick Lamar. Last week, on Twitter, you guys tweeted, "Who's the most influential in rap right now?" Are you guys looking to collaborate with rappers in the near future, including Kendrick still?
ODESZA: Oh, I would be very down to work Kendrick specifically, of course. But yeah, it would be a nice change. We're always trying to push ourselves and we're down to work with any rappers specifically. I think it would be a really fun project and something cool to do. It would definitely be a new change. I think there's a pretty good chance that may happen.
Not too long ago, you guys remixed Sia's "Big Girls Don't Cry." What made you guys decide to remix that record specifically?
ODESZA: Well that one, we really wanted to do "Chandelier" by Sia. That was the first track that came out and the first track they pushed really hard. Unfortunately, it has run its course. So they offered us this whole new record with Sia. So we jumped right on it and kind of pursued it. We tried to take it a very different route and make it really weird. (Laughs) I think it turned out alright.
If you had to compare the liveliness of the crowds in Europe to those of the U.S., which do you prefer and why?
ODESZA: The US is our home. Playing shows in Seattle are always better. But, it was nice to see people out there that know our music. We're definitely glad to be getting stages over there. The response isn't quite as large as the ones we get over here. But, we would love to go back.
Image: Tonje Thileson