photo by @KBucklandPhoto
Interview by Stephanie Rosa
Chances are that if you are in the festival scene, you are very familiar with these headliners. Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight are the two musicians that joined forces in a Seattle college to create what we know today as ODESZA. Their mystical and emotional songs took the electronic scene by storm as they paved the way to invent an entirely fresh sound. The duo has been riding on the incredible highs of their EP My Friends Never Die and their LP, In Return. Harrison and Clayton became masters of their own songs as they remixed well respected artists, brought in a live drum line, and threw in heavy bass to close out their masterpiece of a live performance.
Fans took to social media for the longest time begging for new originals and on September 8, the two delivered on their promise that new music would arrive. 16 tracks were released on A Moment Apart and the album received nothing but the highest of praises from endless media outlets. Now, ODESZA prepares to embark on their newest tour and they have teased on Facebook that this would be an all new tour, something different from their In Return performance. In this exciting interview, ODESZA spoke with Festival Squad about the newest tour and what the fans can expect. They discussed inspiration, connecting with their fans, and brand new, unreleased music.
Read below to get all the details of this tour and what the two are bringing to Lost Lake Music Festival this weekend in Arizona!
The visual and the stage production of your In Return tour was unreal. How are you guys building on that and changing that visual performance for your A Moment Apart Tour, and for Lost Lake, the biggest festival on this tour?
Clayton: Since we’ve wrapped up the album we’ve been working on the new show which will be premiering in San Diego and we will be performing at Lost Lake as well. We have a whole bunch of new production; and we have a whole bunch of new music off the album that we haven’t released. Basically things we’ve built for the live show. It’s a total revamp and we’re really excited to show you guys what we’ve been working on for so long.
Any more details that you can share on the new show?
Harrison: We have a bunch of new production, we revamp a lot of our older songs and basically remixed them to be completely new songs, and we’re playing a lot of songs we’ve never played out before from the album, a new production, a couple of surprises, we basically revamped the whole show from the ground up in a lot of ways.
What is your favorite song off the new album and why?
Clayton: You’re going to make us choose, huh? [Laughs]
Or some of your favorites?
Harrison: I think we both have different ones, but I would say that mine is “Thin Floors, Tall Ceilings”.
Clayton: Its hard to choose, Thin Floors is definitely one of my favorites, but I think the Leon Bridges feature, Across The Room, is one of my favorites. It was one of my favorites to make and work on and it just kind of came together so nicely.
How does it feel to be closing out Lost Lake and is there anything that you do differently when you’re the very last act of the festival on the last day?
Clayton: Yea, definitely, theres a certain expectation to perform a great show. We kind of treat every show, especially when we’re touring, like we’re closing out on a big main stage. But for this one in particular, theres a bunch of new surprises currently lined up, I don’t want to give too much away but we definitely spent a lot of time working on it and we’re really excited for it. But yea, its definitely got a lot of moving pieces and it should be quite the show.
I heard that you studied a lot of film soundtracks and scores when producing A Moment Apart. Can you speak on that sort of cinematic element to this album and your music in general and how that contributed to the final product?
Harrison: Sure. Yes, we have been fans of film scores for a really long time. Personally a few that I really like are Philip Glass, Ennio Morricone, Bill Harney Harnson, they’re all people that I think have influenced us in some way. We kind of grew up.. well, I don’t’ know if Clay is really a big film buff.. .but I know that he likes a lot of film composers and I think it was something that we always sought out to do at some point and I think when we were coming back after touring, it was just something we fell back on, something that we love. And we always go back to things that we really love and try to find why we made music in the first place when we start working on a big project. We try to clear the pallet and go back to the things we love. And that was something we kind of got hooked on and something that we wanted to try so we felt like it was a good time to get in that field.
Clayton: I mean, its kind of the A Moment Apart idea of adding all these orchestral elements with electronic elements. Its been an idea of ours for a long time. Only recently we’ve had the time and means to put it all together. Yeah, the project and the ideas been kind of with us from the beginning of ODESZA. We’re happy we kind of got it out and we think it came together really nicely.
How has your inspiration changed from when you guys first started (when you met in college) versus now that you’ve seen the success and are headlining festivals? What inspires you at this point in your career?
Harrison: That’s a really good question. I think its always kind of evolving. When we first met it was really just the beginning of SoundCloud, and I think we were so excited about this totally new sound that was emerging. Whereas now I just think its us kind of being more internal and trying to develop the sound we’ve created and trying expand on it and evolve with it and really grow. And I think we take a lot of newer modern music that we really love but we always kind of go back to the classics and its trying to find that balance between not completely alienating your audience and people that have grown to love the things you’ve made but also pushing yourself to try to do something really new.
Clay: Adding on to that, I think we’ve always been inspired by the ability of music production and how you can take organic elements and kind of produce them and use production techniques to make them into something new. So the times we hear an album that really do that well that’s usually a pretty inspiring sound to hear. We try to go back to those albums that we fell in love with first and that we really got fired up to make music from the beginning when we go into the writing mode.
What is it like for you to headline a brand new music festival where nobody really knows what to expect?
Harrison: That’s a tough one. We always treat our album and our shows completely differently, and we’ve always felt like its such a different setting. Its not as intimate and you want it to be this really big theatrical production, at least for us. So we spend a lot of time thinking about building these moments throughout our set that are kind of placemarkers on where we want people to be. Hopefully a journey through different styles and sounds. We work really hard to make it this big epic performance and hopefully people are along for the ride with us. But you never really know what to expect until you’re feeding off the energy of the crowd around you.
Clayton: For first year festivals, again, you don’t know what you’re going to get but the best thing we can do is focus on our show and making it the best thing we can from our end. So that’s kind of what we’ve been doing the past couple of months is really trying to dial in our show in really get it all together.
This may be the first music festival for a lot of people of this size for people who can’t make it to festivals like Bonnaroo. What is the best kind of advice you could give someone if this is their first music festival? Whats something that you learned when you went to your first festival?
Harrison: I think going with a really open mind and trying to see people that you don’t know. I’ve discovered some of my favorite bands through just happen stance walking in at a random moment. Just try to explore and keep an open mind and don’t just try to see people you know.
Clayton: Take care of yourself! Drink a lot of water as well.
You touched on a complete revamping of your visual show production, I am curious, who is your favorite visual artist to work with on this album? I know you did a lot of different things with the music videos, the album work, and I’m wondering if that’s also brought into the new live show?
Harrison: I think we worked on a lot of different mediums, so a lot of the album stuff that we did, some shoots with this photographer named Tim Vicente who we had never worked with before. He was really fun to work with. We basically did all of our singles covers and a lot of our stuff for our album all in one shoot and just did a 12 hour long power through a million different settings and styles. And that was really fun for us and really interesting. As far as music videos go, we just released the Leon Bridges music video with worked with Ian Shwartz whos fantastic director and we shot everything on film. And that was also something that was new for us. I would definitely say the Leon Bridges video was a really fun new thing for us to try.
I know that you talked about some of the things that you’re doing to revamp this new tour but I’d like to touch on some of these awesome No.Sleep sets that you guys have. Do you have any sets that are coming up in the future or any new music that you’re already working on?
Clayton: Yea, actually we have quite a bit of new music that we’re working on. The stuff that started during the writing process of A Moment Apart that just didn’t quite make the cut that we’re really excited to work on and go back to, but there’s also a bunch of new material in the live set that we’ve been building in the past couple of months just to perform live which we’re really excited to share with you guys. And maybe down the line we’ll release some of that, you just never know. Yea, a whole bunch of new material that’s on the horizon here that we’re pretty stoked about.
When I mentioned that we were having this call my friend told me that the song “Its Only” changed her life and really helped her deal with a really difficult relationship. How does it feel when people tell you that your music has inspired them and affected their life?
Harrison: Oh, wow. Tell your friend thank you. I think that’s the number one thing that you can ask for as a musician is connection and that’s why we do it. That’s a beautiful thing. A lot of times we threw ourselves into music when we felt alone, and you feel akin to the world when you feel connected. So thank you, that’s definitely why we do this.
Clayton: The more and more we perform and the more we see the music connecting with the audience… it’s a pretty moving and humbling experience. Its really quite like nothing else. We’re just really honored and humbled to be apart of it.
Don’t miss ODESZA on their A Moment Apart tour! You can see them at the dates below or grab tickets to their theatrical performance at Lost Lake HERE.
A Moment Apart Listen Here:
Contributors to this interview include: Daily Wildcat, Jetset Mag, Time News Publication, Arizona Foothills Magazine and Phoenix Magazine