Last week I finally had the chance to sit down with Odesza to get in this interview that’s been a year in the making. I tried to catch them right before their tour with Pretty Lights, because I knew the following year was going to be huge for them. It wasn’t until they finally came back to LA in the midst of an enormous sold out tour that we could chat about their past, present, and future. ODESZA a huge inspiration to many artists currently in the scene and very deservedly so. They’re amongst the select few individuals setting the bar for electronic music as far as production and live shows. Catch the details after the jump!
C+A+D: Nice to finally meet you guys! You just had two sold out shows in SF before you got down here…what made you want to start there rather than back at home in Seattle?
ODESZA (Harrison): Yeah man it’s good to be back in LA. We just had played at home so we wanted to give it some time before we played there again. It’s always good to be in Seattle of course.
C+A+D: That makes sense. Showing some other cities love. So you guys started pursuing this full time after you graduated college, right?
ODESZA (Harrison): Well, it all started off as more of a hobby, but after we got together it snowballed into what it is now.
C+A+D: That’s a pretty ideal way of starting a career haha. What did you guys major in while you were in school?
ODESZA (Harrison): Clay was a physics major, and I was focused on graphic design.
C+A+D: Do you think that played into your chosen path and influenced ODESZA?
ODESZA (Harrison): I’d say so. Clay is pretty technical, which is something I’m not very particular about. It comes in handy when we get into mixing down our tracks.
C+A+D: You both went to the same school, so at what point did you just say “fuck it all! We’re going to make our dreams come true and move forward with this.”
ODESZA (Harrison): (Laughs) It was more like, we had three months to go find jobs. I was going to join a design firm, and Clay was going to go to grad school. But we just kept getting opportunities to do things. We just went with it.
ODESZA (Clay): Yeah I mean even when I graduated I still was planning on going to grad school.
C+A+D: Were you guys playing shows around that time as well?
ODESZA (Clay): We had just started. We played a small show in our college town. Not that long after we had been asked to go on tour with Emancipator, and we thought “Yeeeeeeeaaaaah.. maybe we should put things on hold.”
C+A+D: Damn. That’s crazy that you guys got picked up for so many tours so quick. The Emancipator tour, then Pretty lights, then Bonobo. These are the godfathers of the realm of music you guys are pretty much headed!
ODESZA: Yeah (they reflect) …it’s really crazy.
C+A+D: How did those tours come about?
ODESZA (Harrison): Well Pretty Lights had asked us to do a remix for him, and he liked it so much that he requested we toured with him. Naturally…we obliged.
C+A+D: So going into the past a bit here…you guys had been producing on your own as separate entities Beaches Beaches and Catacomb Kid. At what point did you decide to work together, and what was the catalyst?
ODESZA (Harrison): Well when we met in college we didn’t know anyone else who was making the kind of music we wanted to make. Our college was about an hour and a half north of Seattle, and everyone was making indie rock and folk music. We were the only ones we knew trying to make electronic music. So when we met it was like “OH! We do the same thing. We should jam” (Laughs) So when we started jamming it went so well, so we continued moving forward together.
C+A+D: So you guys met through making music?
ODESZA (Clay): Pretty much! We had a mutual friend who introduced us. But we made most of that first album like the day we met.
C+A+D: Yeah you guys make music so fast. It probably helped that you had the solo projects to get through the bullshit starting stages. Do you plan on ever making music with the solo projects? Not sure if you were trying to pull a TNGHT now that ODESZA is doing so well.
ODESZA (Clay): Yeah man it’s pretty far on the back burner. We just want to make sure we give 100% on things. Our timeline is so busy, and we’re together so much that it just makes sense to move forward together.
C+A+D: So who are the artists coming up that you see a lot of promise in?
ODESZA (Clay): Well the people we tour with (laughs). I know it’s a cop out but we like to grab those people before they get too big for us! Hayden James, Ambassadeurs, Big wild.
ODESZA (Harrison): Except Hayden James’ visa didn’t come through so he’s not going to be here tonight :(
ODESZA (Harrison): Yeah it sucks..but we got Big Wild to fill in and he’s always fun to play shows with.
C+A+D: Speaking of shows…they’re one of my favorite things ever. Especially festivals. What was it like playing your home base festival at Sasquatch?
ODESZA (Harrison): To this day it’s still the best show we’ve ever played. We opened for Toro y Moi and Disclosure, and we were no bodies. So it was just a mind blowing experience..
ODESZA (Clay): Yeah it started raining like 30 minutes before our set so the dance tent was PACKED.
C+A+D: Sounds like the dream situation…Ok, as far as your production side goes, how was switching from Logic to Ableton? And what do you feel to be the pros and cons for those as DAWs
ODESZA (Harrison): Well we use Ableton mainly for our live shows. We like to do vocal glitching in it sometimes. In general we use Logic for the finalizing of our tracks.
ODESZA (Clay): Yeah the laying out, mixing, and mastering process is all done in Logic. You can do a lot of detail work, like microediting is really easy in Ableton. Oh and pitch shifting! But yeah they both have their strengths.
C+A+D: How much time would you say you spend designing your sounds? And do you prefer software synths or analog synths?
ODESZA (Harrison): We do our best to replicate analog synths. Being on the road most of the time makes it hard to have a lot of gear with you.
ODESZA (Clay): Plus the technology is so good now that if you use the right effects you can get pretty damn close.
C+A+D: Before ‘In Return’ you guys used to release music for free. Did you guys have to charge for this album because of the additional guests and lack of samples?
ODESZA (Harrison): Yeah, pretty much. With everything we’ve done, we made a point to try something different to just expand. Usually we’d start with a sample and build everything around that sample. Whereas this time, we built our own original production then sent it off to a vocalist. Then once they do something we go off what they do and rework the entire song off of that. So it was a very new process for us.
ODESZA (Clay): Sometimes we would send them these shitty loops that are just so corny just to get an idea going.
ODESZA (Harrison): (Laughs) Yeah sometimes they wouldn’t even get back to us like “What the fuck is this??” But mainly we just want to set a tone.
ODESZA (Clay): We would get like 20 minutes of content from them, respond back with a specific piece that we like, and just build on that. It’s just a long back and forth process until you get something that you’re comfortable with.
C+A+D: Did you guys ever work with one of the singers? Like be in the studio and bounce ideas off each other to make the song?
ODESZA (Clay): Yeah sometimes we’d have the opportunity to get in the studio with someone, but most of the work is done over email. We just scour artist and singers over soundcloud that we’d want to work with. A lot of times they’re in the UK or something, and it would just be expensive to get together when we didn’t have to.
C+A+D: But yeah, I’m just so excited for you guys and the new album. ‘In Return’ seems like everything you’ve done so far has built up to this sound, and I can’t wait to see the opportunities it presents.
ODESZA (Harrison): Thanks so much…that means more than you know. Can’t wait to get on stage, but let’s grab a beer for now haha.